The Wetfoot Blog

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mark's Activity of the Month

Happy New Year Everyone!

Since this is the time of year when I am out attending conferences and trainings myself, I wanted to put in a quick plug for attending and presenting at conferences as a way of growing personally and professionally in this field. You have a lot of choices—Association for Experiential Education, Association for Challenge Course Technology, Professional Ropes Course Association, Wilderness Education Association, etc.

I have my own personal biases for various reasons; however The Association for Experiential Education was where I got my start and did some of my first conference presentations. I would suggest that you attend AND present. Either way you chose, I am convinced that there is no substitute for preparing for and initiating a conference presentation for your peers.

In many ways the process of choosing a focus and approach, developing the process, presenting and then connecting with peers afterward for feedback were some of the foundations of my entire career. Do it! You will not regret it. Feel free to contact me if you have questions also. I don’t recommend doing this alone.

On the subject of conferences, one of my very favorites is coming up in Chicago at Northeastern Illinois University on Feb. 5-6. The T.E.A.M conference celebrated 20 years last year. Dan Creely and his crew down there have done so much for this field and the conference has a unique spirit and community that needs to be experienced directly to be understood. Find out more at: www.neiu.edu/~team

Activity of the month: “Tiny Teach”

Purpose: “Tiny Teach,” or any of the variations listed below, is a great ice breaker activity, usually used when a group first comes together. However, as you will see, this is an activity that could be used around a camp fire on trail or any time there is down time. In that case, participants would be challenged to find new skills to teach each time. However you choose to use it, this is a great activity for allowing a group to:
o Get to know one another better
o To bring out the diversity of skills and abilities contained in the group
o To allow focused and playful interaction between members

• Foundation: Every person has some unique ability (or abilities), talent, skill or obscure piece of knowledge that tells others something about who they are. This activity allows everyone to share that talent with another, learn something new themselves and have an opportunity to share what they have learned with others. The activity is also adaptable - as any good activity is.
• Set-Up: Have everyone get a partner. Instructions are that each member of the partnership will have a few minutes to teach the other person some skill or talent - give examples. It needs to be fast and easy to learn in just a few minutes, but you will have a chance to share that new skill with others. Give the first partner a few minutes to teach and when you can see most everyone is nearing the end of that process, announce the switch to the other partner.

Follow-Up: What you do after each partner has shared and learned a skill depends on the group and your focus? Sometimes I will bring all of the partnerships back into a circle and ask if anyone wants to teach the rest of the group their newly learned skill. Sometimes I will have two partnerships form and have this process take place within the group of four. This can continue into a larger group as well, with another option being to have a group of four or eight choose one of the new skills they have seen and choose one to teach everyone. This is a really fun process (note: I do usually give instruction that EVERYONE in the group needs to be involved in the teaching and, at times, I may require some other things that need to be included in the presentation).

Happy playing,
Mark

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