I have always liked the "seed poem" device that this introductory activity uses. I learned it from Emily Schnee in a course we co-taught at the old ILGWU Worker-Family Education Program. We did it as a writing activity. I don't know where she got it. This activity answers several needs at once: it is a good speaking, listening, writing activity; it is creative and uses the whole body; it combines pair and whole group work; it works across levels; it is a good way to begin identifying generative themes. The concept is simple enough, make a list of things about which you have strong feelings: love, hate, need, fear, hope and also what you have to offer, then share it with the other participants.
- Explain and motivate: to get to know more about each other we will do paired interviews and then introduce our partners to the class.
- Form pairs (cross-level is good, if the class is multi-level)
- The joker preps the seed poem by pantomiming the six feelings used: love, hate, have, need, fear, hope. (Important to pantomime this, as prep for the rest of the activity.) As people call out each word, write it on the board. Then show how to make the interview questions:
[name of interviewee] loves _____________________________.
[s/he] hates ______________________________.
[s/he] has ______________________________.
[s/he] needs ______________________________.
[s/he] fears ______________________________.
[s/he] hopes ______________________________.
- Taking turns, people interview their partners, writing their answers on a piece of paper.
- When people are done, joker announces the next step: you will introduce your partner. Then, explain that the introduction has to be done by pantomime -- no words, only gestures. The other students will call out words, trying to guess the feelings and the objects. "Kimiko loves...hugs! Solidarity! Peace? Sweaters?"
- Scribe take notes -- watch for items that are special in some way, strong emotions, confusing feelings. etc. At end, applaud people's work and their willingness to perform. Then have a short discussion, asking people what they notice about the interviews: what do we have in common? What are our common concerns? Where are we different? Is there something interesting here, some guiding thread to follow, some treasure? (very hard question, but okay to leave it out there, hard, unanswered)
Watch for: don't let the pantomime drag, if people get stuck, let them skip to the next one and then come back. Or let them use one word...
Note: one interesting thing about this activity is that in it people struggle with one of the basic problems of language learning -- the inability to say what you want to say -- and have to find creative solutions, alternative expressions to convey meaning.
- Explain and motivate: to get to know more about each other we will draw pictures together on a large sheet of paper and then use them to introduce ourselves to the group.
- Form groups of three to six (cross-level is good, if the class is multi-level) Each group sits at a table large enough to hold a big sheet of paper on which they each can draw. Each group gets several markers in different, easy to see, colors.
- Joker preps the seed poem by writing the six questions on the board: What do you love? Hate? Have? Need? Fear? Hope?
- In the groups, people draw their answers to the six questions. The joker should model easy drawing so people don't get hung up on technique.
- When time is up the joker asks one person to choose a picture and ask the person who drew it what it means. That person then chooses the next person, and so on.
Follow up: if it works, the activity should give the participants good leads for planning the next session: digging into the themes.