I spent July traveling around South Africa, Swaziland, and Ghana with 11 other volunteer educators as part of EdTech Summit Africa 2016 (@edTechSummitsA). We led 10 summits in 30 days, and the ensuing road-trip was full of memories and experiences I hope to cherish for a while. Besides leading my own 90-minute workshop about using GoogleSites to curate a professional portfolio and gather curricular projects/materials, I assisted in the other volunteers’ workshops covering a variety of topics: Incorporating project based learning, using Multimedia resources, designing games in Scratch, creating inquiry-based lessons, and more.
I witnessed many great moments while observing the other presenters deliver their workshops, including two memorable icebreakers via Thandekile Ngema
(@tandingema) and Claudia Stanfield (@ClaudiaStany) described below:
- Tandi’s workshop about creating remedial lessons for language activities began with participants writing down on a small slip of paper a challenge that they struggle with when trying to meet the needs of their learners. These slips of paper are then rolled into a balloon, the balloon were inflated, and then everyone stood and formed a circle and tossed their balloons at each other for a fun and unexpected activity. When time was up, each participant had someone else’s balloon. The balloons were popped revealing the slip of paper with someone else’s struggle. At that point, participants put aside the slip of paper and had time to explore a variety of literacy apps installed on tablets provided by the Breteau Foundation. After about 20 minutes, each person in the room took a turn reading the challenge on the slip of paper in front of them launching a full discussion about how to solve that challenge (employing strategies newly available to them via the apps they’d just explored). An alternative might have been to immediately begin conversing about the slips of paper after popping the balloons, but Tandi timed it intentionally so teachers had time to explore the apps and consider how they may create remedial lessons with the apps. It was a very photogenic activity!
I ❤️ @tandingema‘s activity: Write down a challenge, insert in balloon, trade balloons, pop, solve problems. #ETSA16 pic.twitter.com/yr8XrFhbHN
— Karen Blumberg (@KarenBlumberg) July 23, 2016
So fun to witness @tande_kile’s icebreaker at @edtechsummitafrica! On a slip of paper, write something you struggle with as a teacher. Roll it and place it in a balloon. Everyone blows up their balloon and the group tosses them around. Whichever one you catch has a new problem that you will help solve. #edchat @edtechsummitafrica #ETSA16 #Mpumalanga
- Claudia began each of her workshops with two different beach balls. One ball had “serious pedagogical questions” written on each different section in permanent marker to launch discussions amongst participants, and the other ball had short cryptic messages like kids would send in text messages to save time. Claudia tossed one or both balls into the crowd, and when a teacher caught a ball, they had to read aloud whatever was written on the section where their finger was pointing. This elicited equally amount of discussion and laughter.
.@Claudiastany begins her multimedia workshop asking attendees to decipher SMS acronyms! #ETSA16 #edchat #edtech pic.twitter.com/On6Abovua9
— Karen Blumberg (@KarenBlumberg) July 12, 2016
Besides the workshops above, I’m reposting below two things that caught my eye last week (for my own benefit as well as for any possible readers of this post):
- I was lucky enough to attend two Unprofessional Development workshops earlier this year led by the inimitable Christina Jenkins (@jenksbyjenks) and Emily Pilloton of Project H Design. Christina and Emily gathered and shared a”cookbook” of conversation starters, project ideas, topics to explore, and a slew of amazing icebreaker activities. Here’s a recent tweet @theUnPD shared about their speed-dating activity:
Looking for a back-to-school icebreaker for faculty or students? We love speed dating! https://t.co/1mSwI5lULQ (photo: @KarenBlumberg)
— The UnPD. (@theUnPD) August 26, 2016
- I saw a timely post on LinkedIn from the super connected, collaborative, generous, brilliant, and ever helpful Shelly Terrell (@ShellTerrell) about back-to-school icebreakers for teachers. Shelly included a link to a post of her own great icebreakers, both analog and digital. Here’s one of the slideshows from the post:
Shelly also links to 16 Websites for Back to School Icebreakers via the American TESOL Institute. Heads up that the site is chock full of additional links to explore for icebreaker activities. A quick glance yielded the following gem from this blog:
During the new teachers’ workshop, one of my colleagues did something that I found really intersting: we drew our hands on a piece of paper and wrote five informations about ourselves inside the drawing. Then, the papers were mixed on the floor, and we had to get a hand that wasn’t ours and find the owner, by asking him about the informations written. It was really dynamic and it doesn’t put the student in the spotlight, which makes them more comfortable to speak.