Tuesday, January 14, 2014

SLLO in Action: Flaky Communication

At the beginning of each semester with a new team of students, I have one activity in particular that I LOVE to incorporate.  Partly, this is because I don’t have as many kinesthetic activities as I do the “think about it and talk to your neighbor” ones, so I like to optimize the few that involve actually DOING.  But also, I just love how the students respond to this one.  It’s called Snowflake, and it’s a great exercise in processing the importance of clear and specific communication when working with others.

Supplies Needed:

1 square sheet of paper for each participant (can be any size, but use fewer folds in a smaller sheet)

Activity Directions:

Give each participant a blank sheet of paper, and instruct them to close their eyes and be silent.  Not talking is very important for this activity, so stress to them that they just need to listen and follow directions…no speaking.

Their instructions are:

  1. Fold the paper in half; (This first time will be your greatest risk of someone blurting out “hot dog or hamburger”, thus causing people to start wondering about how their neighbor is folding it…you can anticipate this with another reminder of silence and to keep their eyes shut)
  2. Hold the folded half toward the front of the room and tear off the left-hand corner;
  3. Now fold the paper in half again, and tear a section out of the center;
  4. Now tear a small piece off of the right hand corner;
  5. Fold in half again, and tear a small piece off of the right hand corner.
  6. Now instruct everyone to open their eyes, unfold their papers, and hold up their snowflakes


Everyone heard the same instructions, but just like real snowflakes, no two are exactly the same. Why did this happen? 

What steps could have been taken to make this turn out differently?

Can you think of a time of another time where this has happened?  (You said one thing or set of instructions that you thought was clear, but the person heard and did something different)

Process with the group how this is a reflection of communication, how two people can hear the same thing and interpret it differently, what would have been helpful for the listeners (the ability to ask questions and get feedback, the ability to have a visual idea of what was expected, etc), and how this can be applied to their group.

No comments:

Post a Comment