When doing a workshop or class, the limit of planned lecture time before moving to an activity or form of engaged learning is roughly ten minutes – much beyond that and people’s attention spans just aren’t there. One of the ways to get the class moving and increase their engagement is to do a Four Corners or a Human Graph activity. Both of these activities get your students up, out of their chairs, and moving around the classroom. They can even be used to help with knowledge retention.
Four Corners: Clear Multiple Choice Questions
For this physical movement activity, each of the four corners of the room you are in represent an answer to a question. People will physically move to the corner of the room for the answer they choose. As an example, take the question, “Which personality type are you? Sanguine, melancholic, choleric, or phlegmatic?” Each corner would stand for one of the personality types. You would then ask the students in your class to move to the corner which represents the answer to the question. After they are done shuffling, ask one person from each corner to explain their choice or how they feel about their selection.
Four corners lends itself to asking, "Which of the following statements is true?" and then listing three misleading yet believable options with one corner being the correct point or fact you want to emphasize. This activity works well with any A, B, C, or D questions you present in a study guide or test. If you do a closing or pop quiz for a class this way, it emphasizes making sure people learn the answers rather than focusing on being graded. People often remember things faster and retain them longer when they have associated them with physical movement (see Total Physical Response on the web).
Human Graph: A Question of Degrees Between Two Extremes
This activity asks participants to plot themselves on a scale between two options thus creating a human graph. For example, if you ask, “Are you more of an open book or a closed book?” You would then follow with, “The wall on this side of the room means completely open and the wall on the other side of the room means completely closed.” People then plot themselves between the two walls depending on the degree to which they are open or closed. You then ask each person closest to each wall and the person in middle of the group why they have chosen their position.
Remember: This is a question of degrees between two answers not a choice between two black and white answers. For black and white answers you would use a variation of the four corners activity above.
I regularly use the human graph as a way to assess future volunteers' comfort level with actually being the volunteer they have been trained to be. At the end of each How to be a Tutor Training, I do a human graph asking, “What is your current comfort level with becoming a tutor? One wall is total comfort and the other wall is abject fear. Plot yourselves.”
As you incorporate these two activities more, you will see greater ways to use them to help you gauge your classes knowledge on what is being taught and also to help them retain more information as a result. Plus, these activities are just plain fun.
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