Tip # 419: Markers, Stickers and a Long Table: A “Just-in-Time” Learning Activity

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”  Edward De Bono

The Jordan travelogue will definitely continue, but I thought you might appreciate a description of a short serendipitous learning activity.

It can be a real nightmare for a trainer when participants complete learning activities much more quickly than anticipated. I found myself in that predicament this week when I was facilitating a workshop on “Managing Your Stress and Time Before They Manage You!” Two activities that were each supposed to take an hour were completed in one hour. There was an entire hour calling for additional content.

For the last exercise, the participants had paired up to take turns discussing how they had handled a very stressful situation earlier in their lives. When they came back from their break, they were then to discuss the keys to their success with other pairs at their tables.

My original plan was to conclude this activity by having each table report out their composite keys to successfully handling stress. However, I knew from feedback about the Creativity workshop they had attended the previous day that the participants really enjoyed creating projects.

Luckily, we were in a room that had a very long table at the front. It occurred to me that we could deepen their learning and make the report out activity much more interesting if, rather than verbally reporting their keys to successful stress management, the groups drew them on flip chart paper.

During the break, I laid out five pieces of flip chart paper on the table in a way that the groups would have sufficient room to work. I had three boxes of Mr. Sketch Scented Markers, which made it possible for me to place a nice variety of colors next to each piece of paper.

When the participants returned to the room, I gave them 10 minutes to discuss the pairs’ results and 20 minutes to draw a picture that depicted their table’s ideas.

You should have heard the energy and enthusiasm in the room as they met with their tables to discuss their results and then to plan what their drawing would be- and who would draw it. The participants in one or two groups took turns drawing on the paper and then labeling what they had drawn. Some groups volunteered someone to do the drawing and then stood around that person to offer additional ideas.

The drawings they came up with were wonderfully creative and insightful. The representatives from each table who described their table’s drawing also had a lot of fun giving their reports to frequent applause.

The drawings were so good, in fact, that I was able to use them for an additional activity. It just so happens that I had also brought along a package of happy face stickers

I took the five pictures and hung them on the walls to create a gallery walk. Then the participants were instructed to take the stickers and place them next to the stress handling strategies on each drawing that would be most practical and useful to them in the future.

When they completed the gallery walk, I asked the participants to write down on an action plan the stress handling strategies they had selected.

It was serendipity that the table was long enough for the five groups to spread out and that I had the markers and stickers with me. This ended up being a wonderful accelerated learning activity that built on what they already knew and added to it in a highly interactive, creative and colorful manner.

In the future, I plan to bring stickers, index cards, envelopes, and markers so that I have materials to create additional learning activities when necessary. I also definitely plan to incorporate this learning activity into future workshops.

May your learning be sweet.



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