By Annika Shore, MPH | April 16, 2015
Professional Development Consultant, ETR
This upbeat activity has some of the best elements for any training—movement, music and conversation. It engages brains, energizes participants and helps them personalize the learning.
Title: Drop Us a Line!
- Introduce participants to new people in a fun and personal way.
- Debrief a learning activity, or process the activity’s relevance to participants.
- Energize participants and help them personalize material.
- Use movement and metaphor to engage adult learners’ brains.
- As an opening activity to facilitate introductions
- As a process check midway through the training
- Postcards. You need one for each participant. These can be postcards from anywhere—the trainer’s hometown, international locales, or the location of the training itself. It doesn’t matter, just have fun with it!
- Music. For this activity you can choose music that matches the locale of the postcards you selected (e.g. with postcards from France, you could choose French café music), or anything upbeat and energizing that gets people moving.
- Write the name of each participant on a postcard so that all participants have a postcard “addressed” to them personally.
- Write a question or two on each postcard. You can write the same question on all of the postcards or use different questions.
If you are using this activity at the beginning of the training as a way to introduce participants to one another, choose introductory questions. For example:
- “What is your name and how long have you been working in this field?”
- “What’s the most interesting thing about the work you do?”
- “If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?”
If you are using this activity to process a learning activity, develop debriefing questions that are relevant for your activity. For example:
- “What are you learning from our current activity?”
- “How can you apply your learning to your everyday work?”
- “What challenges do you foresee when you use this new skill in your work back home? What are some ways you could begin to overcome those challenges?”
- Create pair sets from your postcards. These pairs will do the activity together.
- Before the training day begins or during a break, hide the postcards under participants’ chairs or place them in their training packets or binders. Give each participant the postcard addressed to his or her pair partner.
- When it’s time to begin the activity, tell participants that it’s now time to drop each other a line!
- Ask participants to find the postcard in their packets or hidden under their chairs and see to whom it's addressed.
- Tell participants that when the music begins they should “deliver” the postcard to the person it’s addressed to. That person will also have a postcard for them. When they find their partner, they exchange the postcards and share their answers to the question(s).
- Start the music!
- After participants have conversed with their postcard partners, turn off the music and have them return to their seats. Debrief with the large group. Ask questions such as “What’s something you learned from your partner that you hadn’t thought of or didn’t know before?” “What are some of the new things people are learning in this training?” “What are some constructive plans people have to address challenges when they put these new skills to work?”
We always love to hear about how these activities go. Be sure to let us know about any of the ways you adapt this exercise and how it works for you in your trainings.
Annika Shore, MPH, is a member of ETR’s Professional Development team and in that role provides support on all aspects of ETR’s professional learning services. She has over 10 years of experience working with young people and adults providing sexual health education; HIV, STD and pregnancy prevention services; and youth development programming. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.