Topic Mediated Dialogue

Contributor: Sandra Sinfield @Danceswithcloud

Idea: When starting dialogue/discussion between students/participants, set up a structure for engagement – and the building of trust, using TMD. With TMD you give people about three contentious statements about the topic – and ask them to talk about those statements in as free and uncensored way as possible, for a set amount of time (7-20 mins). At the end of that time – you can draw thoughts back from the whole group in a plenary. Why it works: by prompting the discussion you might be shaking people out of performative answers or silence. (We often get people to draw a representation of their partner after the discussion based on the conversation – and to use that to introduce their partner to the class.)

Practitioner comments: “The use of prompts helps to get people started in a meaningful conversation whilst otherwise they might be silent – or might just bang on about their own position – without straying from a comfort zone or really engaging their thought processes. NB: also models a qualitative research method alternative to a questionnaire.”

Credits: “I first encountered this idea listening to a programme on Community Development on Radio4. I cannot remember who did this – but it seemed a great strategy for teaching situations also. Have since seen articles by Palus & Drath on ‘putting something in between’…”


Create a game and play it!

Contributor: Chrissi Nerantzi @chrissinerantzi

Idea: Create a game and play it! This is an idea based on learning through making and play as a collaborative process. Individuals can work in small groups of 4 or in pairs to turn their questions into a board or card-game, or any other type of game. They can use an existing game as an inspiration and modify it or start from scratch. Such an activity could be used for recap, when checking understanding of a specific theory or thinking about a specific process. There will be many more applications. Be clear from the beginning what the purpose is and communicate this to the participants.

We are all poets and don’t know it!

Contributor: Chrissi Nerantzi @chrissinerantzi

Idea: We are all poets and don’t know it! Words don’t come easy… not always and not to all. Can they come easier through creating a poem with others as a response to a theory, a concept or an event, a situation, that might create a lot of attention, for good or bad? Could poetry help us develop criticality and creativity around a topic and idea etc. while creating community at the same time? Remember, poems don’t need to be written in lines… they can become pictures.

Music Workshop

Contributor: Sandra Sinfield @Danceswithcloud

Idea: Bring in simple music instruments; castanets, maracas, triangles, yogurt pots with seeds, watercooler containers; conga drums… Talk through the ‘language’ of music: rhythm/volume/speed… how this communicates feelings/ideas… Play a bit of music relevant to your group – discuss how it conveys its meanings. Get people into groups – choose and instrument each – choose a picture from a range offered – ask them to compose to the picture. Choose a participant to help you agree criteria for marking. Groups play – discuss – are ‘marked’. Discuss. De-brief.

Practitioner comments: “This is useful for enjoyment – to seed thinking about composing writing – for building self-efficacy – for developing the ability to think about effective communication – to lead in to presentations. I have used with education students – would love to use with staff on our PGCert/MA.”

Credits: “My colleague Dave Griffiths developed this for Leadership courses – but I asked him to run one for my education students – and it was amazing!”

Develop subject and transferable skills

Contributor: Nieky van Veggel @Nieky_WUC, Biosciences.

Idea: In order to encourage development of both subject-related and transferable skills in their curriculum, this assessment asks the students in groups to analyse a new animal feed in the laboratory. Then they are required to design a package and a commercial advertising video for this product. The product design and video were presented by students, after which they were questioned on their work. With some out-of-the-box thinking, this idea could easily be adapted to other disciplines by choosing discipline-specific products.

Practitioner comments: “Students enjoyed the opportunity to be creative and demonstrate their understanding through product design. Some students went as far as to role-play their commercial video or create a 3D model a feed package.”

Credits: Tracey Coop (@TraceyCoop1) and Rosa Verwijs