Combining Group Building, Problem-Solving and Academic Review

This fall our author Jen Stanchfield has been contributing a series of posts on engaging participants from the start of a program, building community, and enhancing reflective practice. She is currently working on a new book The Inspired Educator which explores the connection between experiential education and brain-based learning and offers activities and approaches to combine group building, problem-solving and academic review. She has been sharing some of these activities on her Inspired Educator Blog.

Here are a few of our favorite posts:

Group Building, Problem-Solving and Academic Review: Zoom and other Sequencing Challenges

The teachers, corporate trainers, high school advisors and other educators I work with are constantly trying to create a balance of learning in their classes and groups. The challenge is to stretch their time to include building group relationships, facilitating reflection, and promoting important life skills such as communication, problem solving, empathy and understanding different perspectives along with the requirements of covering academic or training curriculum content.

Layers of the Atmosphere Line Up and Other Sequence Challenges:

Experiential Learning and EngagementOver the past few months I have been sharing ideas for making the most of your time and combining academic or training content review with team-building and social-emotional learning. This week I am offering my take on the popular team-building activity “Zoom” with variations that connect this great communication, problem solving and group building activity with academics and curricular content review including “Layers of the Atmosphere Line Up” and a “Historical Time Line Shuffle” among others… To read more click here

Another Brain-Friendly Strategy for Blending Community Building, Academic Review and Social-Emotional Learning: Charades Race

This time of year many of us are returning to the classroom or kicking off training programs. We often start by facilitating community/team building activities with groups to build positive rapport and buy in as they start the semester, training or course. As the program or school year progresses the pressure to reinforce and assess academic content increases and sometimes the focus on group work, social skills development and team-building goals gets moved to the “back burner”. I encourage educators to think of blending together academic, social-emotional, and group building/school climate goals throughout their whole curriculum or program.

Active Academic Review

Interactive approaches to practicing, recalling, reviewing and discussing academic material increase engagement. According to new research on the brain and learning using a variety of teaching and review methods that involve multiple senses helps learners retain and recall information by promoting multiple “learning pathways” for storing and accessing information (Willis, 2006, 2011).

In past articles I have offered some of my favorite group building, communication and problem-solving activities that double as “brain-friendly” interactive approaches to review and reinforce academic content. They also make great formative assessments to check learners understanding of content.
These include “Have You Ever” Upcycled as “Anyone Who”, Handshake Mingle and Play Dough Pictionary. Another of my favorites is “Charades Race”.

“Charades Race” is just as it sounds. It is a team relay race involving participants in small teams taking turns as actors to help their teammates understand a list of words or concepts. Because this version of charades is played as a relay race with multiple groups simultaneously playing many find it less intimidating than traditional charades. There is no one person in the “spotlight” by themselves in front of the whole group and everyone has a choice about whether they want to be an actor…to read more click here.



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