Focus Your Locus: Activities That Focus the Power of Individuals and Groups

ISBN: 978-1-885473-89-9
SIZE: 6 x 9
PRICE $24.95

It is our goal to provide opportunities for you to learn, relearn, or rethink some active and reflective activities that can be relevant for all types of counselors, teachers, and experiential educators. These activities illustrate the power of the focused individual and of the collective mind.

What can we do as teachers, as group leaders and facilitators to help refocus our groups and harness the necessary energy to keep the momentum moving through the experiential learning cycle? Understanding the energy within us is important. Being able to harness and focus the collective power of the group can bring groups back to previous levels of performance and then move them far beyond.

Focus enables people to more clearly access their thoughts. Access to one’s thoughts helps individuals to evaluate previous thoughts and experiences and create new ideas. New ideas create energy. Energy stimulates awareness, which can influence where one’s locus of control resides. Awareness can fuel courage, potentially allowing one to become more individually responsible. Courage leads to an enhanced ability to make new conscious choices, which, when made within groups, lead to mutual accountability. These new choices lead to new opportunities for learning and growth. New learning and experiences provide opportunities for new thoughts, and the cycle begins anew, with focus enabling people to access their thoughts more clearly.


“This book is engaging, easy-to-read, and full of new and refreshing ideas. The Focus theme throughout the book is well developed in a logical and organized fashion and is backed up with lots of examples, theories, and pertinent activities. Those willing to delve more deeply into the psychological and philosophical aspects of facilitation will appreciate and enjoy Mike and Justin’s considerable knowledge of their subject.”
–Nicki Hall, Board of directors, High Five Learning Center, VT

“A common vision and a feeling of belonging to an organization are the major attributes leading to genuine school improvement and thus student achievement. To this end, time understanding the theory and implementing the practical as described in Focus Your Locus is well worth the time of any educator or school administrator.”
–Taran Gruber, Vice Principal, Oliver Ellsworth Elementary, Windsor, CT

“Facilitating a group is a journey that must be taken one initiative at a time… and each step of the journey is captured in this book.”
–Anthony Gronski, YMCA Camp Director

“I would recommend this book to anyone who works with groups that need to better focus their collective and individual efforts. It describes several theories of focus and influence and has a good selection of hands-on activities to make it come to life.”
–Sam Sikes, DoingWorks

“I’ve been an elementary and junior high teacher for 36 years. Though this book might be targeted at adventure program folks, it’s important for classroom teachers, as well. It is filled with many concrete ideas to help a classroom group of children become more fully engaged. As a classroom teacher and former adventure course instructor, I know how we are all crunched for time. Using these techniques will enable the students to learn how to focus and thus become more fully involved in the learning process from the beginning of class on through.”
–Doug Cramphin, Teacher, History Department Head, Renbrook School, West Hartford, CT, Ropes Course Instructor for 30 years

Excerpt from the Book

An Excerpt form Chapter 2: Come on, Energy! (Common Energy)

We have all had those groups. You know, the ones that just seem to never get it. The day starts off and someone is dragging the rest of the group down. That person’s attitude and energy affects everyone and by the end of the day, even though you’ve delivered a decent program, lesson plan, or session, and even though the group has had some fun and some good learning moments, everyone, including you, is completely drained. This is because of the exchanges of energy that have occurred throughout the day. Now of course there are many different levels to what could be affecting this outcome (some of these concepts and theories are discussed in the other chapters of this book), but take into consideration the impact energy has on us all. We are dealing with people in, at times, very contrived situations that seem to bring up all kinds of interpersonal dynamics. Even though the activities and problem-solving initiatives themselves have no real importance or relevance to our lives, the dynamics that present themselves do hold great importance. It is critical that we help group members understand the impact they are having on one another and how to connect these realizations to the rest of their lives. If they are acting a certain way during a silly, contrived activity, chances are this is how they behave, on some level, most of the time. Plato said, “You can learn more about a person in one hour of play than in a year of conversation.” When we play, we are transported back to the child within, back to where our core values reside. Our true selves come out. Our job, as facilitators of learning, is to help people make connections to the other parts of their lives, giving these experiences meaning.

We can use these learning opportunities to help people reflect on their actions, words, and intentions and how they affect the rest of the group. Using proper sequencing and participant-directed processing methods, we can help them discover these realizations for themselves, allowing the group and individuals to have that “aha” moment—allowing somebody to be the hundredth monkey that day.

Before we turn to discussing other concepts, let’s look at some activities that can bring up discussions about energy and how it affects the group process. These activities can act as energizers, as they are designed to get the group going, energized, and focused back on the same point.

As our groups arrive and we have that “perfect” plan in mind for their day, it is important to have a few activities in your back pocket to pull out in case you need to adjust your sequencing. We have found that starting off with icebreakers to get everyone loose and laughing, followed by some quick energizer activities really helps us gauge where the group is in its level of playfulness and energy. This helps us determine whether or not we stick to our original plan or shift a bit, allowing group members to take a different path. There have to be literally hundreds of energizer activities; however, we’d like to mention a few with which we have had great success.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Genesis of Hocus Pocus, Focus Your Locus
Chapter 2: Come on, Energy! (Common Energy)
Activity: Energy Ball
Activity: Ah! So! Zoo!
Activity: Whoosh, Wham, Whoa, Wow!
Activity: Zip-Zap
Chapter 3: Evolution of Group Focus|Looking Back in Front of Us
Chapter 4: The Mirror Neuron Party
Chapter 5: Individual Focus|Nothingness is Good
Activity: Washer Pendulum
Chapter 6: Group Focus|That’s Ubuntu!
Activity: Pringles® Stomp
Activity: Laughing Symphony
Activity: Bull Ring
Chapter 7: Leading Versus Facilitating|A Slice of Humble Pie
Chapter 8: The Collective Power of the Focused Group|Lighter Than Air
Activity: Levitation
Chapter 9: Accessing Our Thoughts|The Usefulness of Focus
Chapter 10: Attention Getters|Can You Hear Me Now?
Chapter 11: More Locus-Focusing Fun
Activity: A Single Drop of Water
Activity: The Clock
Activity: The Clock (Webbing Adaptation)
Activity: Deeply Rooted
Activity: Helium Stick
Activity: Instant Replay
Activity: King Frog
Activity: Micro-Macro Wave Stretch
Activity: One Duck
Activity: Photo Finish
Activity: Pipeline
Activity: Positive Isometrics
Activity: Run, Shout, Knock Yourself Out
Activity: Snoopy vs. The Red Baron
Activity: Webbing Yurt Circle
Activity: Write Together
Activity: Yurt Circle
Focus Your Locus Conclusion

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