Building groups

This was something I tried last week in my Negotiating Politics class, to start getting people (inter)active.  Since several of the activities later in the module require the class to break into smaller units, I randomly allocated people into four groups.

Group one then moved into the centre of the room (actually, the playing field) and were told to decide on a name for their group and a group coordinator.  Group two then took their place and were asked to do the same, but without speaking anything that was recognisably English: much grunts and pointing ensued).  Group three were not allowed to make any sound, or to point: once their remembered the existence of pen and paper, they were fine.

Group four were told to do the same as group one, but to also pick new group coordinators for the other three groups.  Finally, I randomly picked someone from the classlist to pick a new coordinator for group four.

As I asked the students afterwards, why do this?  Firstly, it broke the ice for the groups and highlighted the practice of the module, namely active and student-led.  Secondly, it started to let them see that negotiation is dependent upon various factors: communication, power, trust, preparation, and so on.  These are all themes in my module that I will be returning to in later weeks, but the sooner I can direct my students’ attention towards these, the better.  Of course, the whole exercise is endlessly changeable, but I find it a very useful primer.