Dwayne Hodgson

A Portfolio

The work and adventures of Dwayne Hodgson,
+ Learning Designer & Facilitator at learningcycle.ca
+ Storyteller & Photographer @ thataway.ca

Filtering by Tag: Learning Tasks

Warm-Ups: Part 3: 4 Final Examples


Okay, one more warm-up stretch before we get down to work! Reach waaaaayy down to the ground.....

In Part 1, I outlined some reflections on the purpose of warm-ups and some guidelines for designing and facilitating effective warm-ups.

In Part 2, I provided 4 examples of warm-ups that I've used in my learning design and facilitation work, and a few of readers added in some of their own insights (thanks, Jane, Jeanette, Jay, Jenny & Bren! (what's with all the J's, by the way?).  

In this final instalment, I'm going to share 4 more examples of warm-ups that I've used to get a group of learners up to speed at the start of a workshop, or in one case, my wedding....

5) Question Continuum

Even when you have only a very short workshop time slot (e.g. at a conference), it is still important to do a quick warm-up. During one 2-hour workshop that I facilitated on project planning and monitoring systems, I was unable to conduct a pre-workshop LNRA, so I built it into the warm-up as follows:

1. In pairs, share a question that you have about today's workshop. Write it in 5-7 words with a Sharpie marker on a post-it in BIG letters so that all can see it. 

2. Post your question on the chart at the front of the room along the continuum that describes your experience with this topic, from: Brand New to Very Familiar. We'll review all. 

NB: This exercise very quickly allowed me to see their "top of mind" questions and discern their perceived comfort level with the topic. The relative complexity of the questions also served as a check vs. people over-rating their experience. I then was able to weave those questions and answers into the remainder of the 2-hour workshop

6) Timelines

This is a more focused variation on the river of life warm-up and helps to illustrate what events or circumstances brought people to this event. 

1. On the 50 cm strip of paper provided, draw a timeline of up to 3 significant events that you led up to you attending this workshop today. Include personal or work-related events or situations. Use words, symbols, pictures, numbers and colour. 

2. Post your timelines on the wall so that they all converge at the circle labelled "Today's Workshop". 

3. As a group, review the time lines and look for common themes and outliers. 

NB: This can provide a quick snapshot of why people are there, and to acknowledge that their learning about this topic probably started a long time ago. You can also adapt this as a synthesis task by asking them to project their timeline into the future after the workshop, naming the expected changes (Transfer and Impact) that they'd like to see in the future. 

7) Mileage Count

Sometimes I like to acknowledge the effort that people made to attend a workshop or meeting, especially in international events. In a few cases, I've invited people to introduce themselves, where they are from and to estimate how many hours and/or kilometres they travelled to get here. I then kept a tally of all the estimates and asked the participants to guess the total distance travelled.

NB: This warm-up also has the side effect of reminding the participants of the cost of gathering together. A subtle reminder to make the most of this unique gathering of people. 

8) The Name Tag Game

Believe it or not, we actually used this warm-up at our wedding.  (Yes, I am a facilitation geek).

The 120 guests that we invited were all from various circles -- school, church, hometowns, relatives -- so I figured a quick introductory warm-up might help them to be more comfortable.

At the end of the receiving line, each guest received a name tag with three of 20 symbols (e.g. a star, a circle, an X, etc.). The symbols described characteristics that they had in common with other guests:  wears glasses, rides a bike, is an architect, a natural blonde, is Dutch, etc. We even had a category called "Should Meet Rob S." that we assigned to people who might be eligible dates or employers for my housemate, Rob. We printed a list of these categories in the wedding program.

After the service, the guests were invited to mingle outside the church, find people with a similar symbol and then use the key in the program to identify what they might have in common. 

It was great fun to watch all of the cyclists (including Trish's 90-year-old Opa) chatting, or a huddle of people finding out what they had in common. And I like to think that our guests found made new friends (although I never did hear if Rob got a date or a job out of this).

Please Share Some of Your Examples

What warm-ups have you used effectively in your training or facilitation practice?  Please post them in the comments section below. 

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