Neuroscientists tell us that novelty is the number one way to grab the brain's attention and cause neurons to fire up. So why start your session with the same old approach? You've been in dozens of sessions that begin with introductions, background, history - Yawn. Instead, think of the opening as an activator. The purpose is to activate attention, curiosity and prior knowledge so that your audience will be ready to listen and learn.
Here's an example:
With all of the negative tweeting going on lately, I decided it was time to jump in and turn things around. This week, I embedded a photo contest into a multi-day training I was running. On the morning of the first day, I announced that a prize would be awarded the next day to one lucky winner. All that was required was to take and tweet a photo that represented something positive about our course content. Anyone who submitted would have their name put into a bowl and one name would be chosen as the winner. No photographic talent required!
Over the Christmas holidays I spent some time binge watching television shows on Netflix and YouTube. One of the things that happens when you binge watch is that it is easy to see recurring themes or patterns in the show. Without the week-long time lag, repetitions are so much more obvious.
One of the shows I binged on was The Tonight Show. I think Jimmy Fallon is so likeable and very funny – easy to watch without worry. One of the patterns I noticed while watching is that The Tonight Show writers have reinvented several old game shows and tweaked them to fit their needs. The contestants and the viewers always seem to enjoy the games so much, even if things don’t go smoothly. This inspired me to try one of my own for a training class.
I chose the old game show “Password,” originally on television in the 1960s, but with several revivals in later decades. In the game, there are two teams, two members each, who attempt to convey a mystery word to each other using only single word clues. The team to guess correctly first is the winner of the round.
This is a great game for content review, especially for a class that has multiple sessions over several weeks. The challenge is tweaking it to fit a group with more than four contestants. Here’s how to make it work.
I had a group of 60 play this with me last week and it worked very well. While we didn’t bother declaring a “winner,” the hint of competition increased motivation and engagement. And having everyone stand up to play provided some movement and increased blood flow to the brain. All in all, this game had lots of benefits and very little prep work. Definitely one I will use again!
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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