By Stephanie Guinosso, MPH | September 28, 2015
Program Manager, ETR
Here’s an activity I like to use to energize the room early in a learning event. It’s useful for getting to know your participants and for allowing them to get to know one another. It can also be used as a brain “warm-up.” It primes participants to discuss questions about the material that will be covered.
Title: Four Corners
- To assess the experience of the participants.
- To energize participants with movement and interaction.
- To allow participants to get to know one another.
- To prime participants to engage with the learning material.
Best Used: This activity works best with medium-sized groups (20–30 participants) in a space that allows everyone to stand up and move across the room at once.
- Power Point slides or flipchart paper and markers (see Preparation steps below)
- Bell or chime
- Develop two or three questions to ask participants for which you can provide four possible answers. For example, to get to know the professional roles of participants, you could ask, “What is your role within your organization?” Answers could include: (1) Teacher, (2) Administrator, (3) Student, or (4) Other.
- Prepare a PowerPoint slide or flipchart paper for each question. Put four boxes on the slide/flipchart and write the possible answers for the question in the boxes, like this:
What is your role within your organization?
- Describe the purpose of the activity (to get to know one another).
- Provide the following instructions:
- I will pose a question to the group and then show a slide (or flipchart) with four possible responses.
- The four boxes represent the four corners of the room. (Orient participants to the four corners.)
- After I ask the question, I’d like you to stand up and move to the corner of the room that best matches your response.
- Once you’re in the appropriate corner, introduce yourself to someone you don’t know.
- Present the first question. Instruct participants to move to the appropriate corner of the room.
- Ring the bell after 1 minute to get attention.
- Repeat with a new question. Do this with several questions to get participants moving around the room and meeting new people.
The following variations can be used with this activity:
- Once participants have moved to a corner of the room and introduced themselves to a partner, ask them to spend 2 minutes discussing a specific topic. For example:
- What questions do you have about what we’ll be learning today?
- Share one thing you hope to gain from this learning event.
- Describe how this learning event can help you with a situation you are facing at work.
If time allows, ask for one or two volunteers from each corner to share their responses.
- Use images in the four corners to engage participants with the learning material. For example, as a warm-up activity in a learning event about youth resiliency, I showed a slide with four different images. Each suggested strength or the ability to overcome obstacles.
I asked participants to choose the image they felt best illustrated the concept of resiliency. Once participants were in their corners, I asked them to discuss with their partner why they selected the image they did. This brief activity primed their brains for learning about resiliency for the remainder of the event!
How have you used the four corners activity? Or how do you plan to use it in the future? Please share your ideas in the comments below!
Stephanie Guinosso, MPH, provides training and technical assistance to teen pregnancy prevention providers across the country. She holds a PhD and MPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She can be reached at email@example.com.