Image Mediated Dialogue

Contributor: Sandra Sinfield @Danceswithcloud

Idea: Collect a range of ‘rich pictures’ – use to seed thinking and discussion – and to model qualitative research methods. In class: Choose one picture that for you represents [a successful educationalist] – write a description of your picture; write why for you it answers the questions, then discuss in pairs or small groups. Each person presents their picture and why it answers the question – others discuss. Plenary – key points that arose…

Practitioner comments: “It helps to unblock thinking – it scaffolds analytical and critical writing as you move from description to analysis of the picture. It unleashes thoughts – it promotes positive discussion – it models qualitative research…”

Credits: “Dave Griffiths introduced me to this idea as a way of getting people to think.”

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End of project quilt

Contributor: Sandra Sinfield @Danceswithcloud

Idea: At the end of an innovative project or course – or perhaps when a ‘placement’ period ends and you want to bring a cohort back together – produce a friendship quilt. Each person in the group has to produce one panel of the quilt that represents their thoughts/learning/reflections – the pieces are put together and a stunning visual memory of the endeavour is created. Alternatives can include a quilt documentary – where each person is videoed displaying an image or object that represents their story – speaking to it for 30 seconds. The latter is more do-able – the quilt is more memorable.

Practitioner comments: “End of projects reports or reflections can be very performative – something to just do – to get out of the way and move on. It can be a regurgitative and perfunctory act. The production of one meaningful panel takes thought – creativity – time. The final piece is a communal act that stands testimony to that community.”

Credits: “As always with visual practice – I was heavily influenced by Pauline Ridley – and she was the one who made the LearnHigher quilt happen – see: www.learnhigher.ac.uk/about-learnhigher

Reflective Object

Contributor: Sandra Sinfield @Danceswithcloud

Idea: At the end of a project – ask participants to bring in an object that represents what that project or endeavour has meant to them. Each person speaks to their own object – explaining why it has meaning for them. A beautiful example, from many, was one of our students displaying her glasses as a reflection on her experience of peer mentoring. She explained that without them she could see nothing – and that her peer mentors had sat with her – had patiently explained things and helped her – and that without them she would have remained blind in her studies.

Practitioner’s comments: “The use of the object breaks the perfunctory and performative nature of many ‘reflective’ tasks. Hopefully people are intrigued – and really want to think about the experience – and find just that one object that could speak for them.”

Credits “Sandra Abegglen not I asked for reflections in this way – and it was a very powerful and moving experience.”

Create a Gallery

Contributor: Eleanor Hannan @EHannan14

Idea: Ask your class to write down ideas they have already on a topic. Put these on the wall as a ‘gallery’. Take 5 minutes to browse the gallery and note down interesting ideas. Then, discuss in pairs the ideas they found interesting with the aim of developing them further.

Practitioners comments: “I tried this in a ideas generating workshop, and it created a lot of discussion. You can also try creating some simple frames from coloured paper to make it feel special!”

Reimagine your goals

Contributor: Eleanor Hannan @EHannan14

Idea: Get students to imagine a goal that they have relating to their career or the course they on. Ask them to write down 3 different ways they might reach that goal. One way should be fanciful (remove a few obvious barriers like money), one should be completely unreal (magic/different laws of physics/mythical universe), and one should be realistic. Give students a chance to share their plans with their peers.