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Using Activities to Teach

We learn best by doing. When students are actively involved, they wake up, rise up and speak up. That’s when the learning takes place. Educators, advisors and sponsors don’t always have the time for extended experiential activities. However, if facilitated properly, even with quick events they can have great impact.

The best teaching activities are:

■ Engaging. The activity should interest and challenge students. It should require enough participation to generate meaningful discussion afterwards. Many simple games and puzzles have lessons you can extrapolate during the debriefing.
■ Fun. Students want to have fun. Take them through an experience they’ll enjoy. Then guide them through the activity to make sure their experience is rich enough to learn from once debriefed.
■ Unusual. Deviate from business as usual. Give them something that will be a highlight of their day, something they’ll want to talk about. This gets their attention, and keeps them thinking.
■ Repeatable. In many cases if the activity or game is repeatable, they’ll play it again on their own with friends or family. This will reinforce the lessons associated with the experience.
■ Reflection. This is critical. The entire purpose of the activity is to give them a shared experience to discuss. It’s during the debriefing that the learning actually takes place. Do not rush the discussion. Note your observations during the experience and draw on them for discussion.

For effective techniques for facilitating discussion, read the article: Activity Wrap-Up: How to do the Debrief.

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