- The workshop introduction
The ice-breaker activity for this workshop is based on the name game: 10 minutes.
The participants stand in a circle and each person says their name. One is chosen to be in the middle and is given the newspaper roll. They attempt to tap the head of a circle member before that member yells out another players name. If the players yells out a name in time the tapper goes to that player, and so on and so on. They will learn names quite quickly with this.
- Group planning
Divide the workshop participants into two large groups and then subdivide each of these in smaller groups. Be sure that there are equal numbers of small groups.
- Key- elements in workshop planning
Know your participants
Set right tone
Evaluate and revise
- Workshop methods
Small group work
Using case studies
Using the media
Taking part in activities
Build on what the participants already know
Encourage the participants to learn by doing
- Key facilitation skills
- Think, Pair, Share techniques.
Think - individually
Pair - partner
Share - everyone
Seven Steps to Planning a Workshop
Open the workshop with something that motivates participants and gets them excited about it. The opening can also provide a rationale for why learning for a sustainable environment is important to participants and how the workshop will be useful to them. This is the time to make introductions, conduct a relevant ice-breaker activity, read a motivational quotation or story, or use a special demonstration or gimmick to get the attention of the participants and draw them into the workshop. If this is not the first session, you can use part of this time to describe how the new session fits into the overall framework of the workshop. After that, you might want to ask a question or two to help participants focus on the topic .
Room arrangement is important. You need to set up your workshop space to facilitate learning and interaction. If you have designed small group activities throughout the workshop, you might want four or five participants seated at each table, which is angled so everyone can easily see the front of the room. If you have a large group and don't plan to use smaller discussion sessions, try arranging the chairs in semicircular rows, with a middle aisle and space on all sides. Posters, maps and other visual aids should be used to help enliven the room. Your goal is to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable, where you can walk around and interact with participants, and where everyone can see everyone else.
The core of the workshop is having participants engage in an activity that provides them with an opportunity to "experience" a situation relevant to the goals of the session. In turn, this "experience" becomes the data-producing event that participants analyse as they complete the learning experiential cycle. Common experiences involve role plays, case studies and small group activities, as well as practicing new skills and taking field trips.
Before a workshop begins, it is important for you to present the purpose of the activity to the participants. Make sure workshop goals and objectives are written clearly on a flip chart or overhead transparency so that all participants can see them. Clearly state what information and skills you want the participants to gain by the end of the workshop. This is also the time to discuss how you used information from the participants' responses to questions about their experiences with/or learning for the topic, to develop the workshop goals and objectives and to design the workshop. You might want to build some options into the agenda so that participants can help design their own schedule based on the needs they wish to fulfil.
Give participants an opportunity to ask questions about the goals or objectives, add ideas, or raise concerns. You can also conduct an expectations activity: ask participants to list their expectations on a flip chart and then explain how some or most of these will be met during the course of the workshop. Display their expectations on the wall and refer to them at the end of the workshop.
After participants take part in an activity, allow them time to share their individual reactions. This helps them begin the process of analysing and understanding the experience. As facilitator, you need to guide this process by asking three or four processing questions related to the group task. Typical processing questions include: "What happened in this experience?" "What did you find difficult about the experience?" "What worked well?" "What would you change?"
Generalising is one of the most important parts of a workshop. By trying to identify key generalisations about the experience, participants can see how the activity relates to themselves. Questions such as "What insights did you get from this experience?" or "What was the most important lesson from the session and why?" can help participants begin to think about how the experience relates to their everyday work and lives. When generalising, participants can learn by listening to others and may even change their attitudes as a result of doing so. Generalising questions nudge participants to broader levels of analysis: instead of reviewing and commenting on specifics, they are asked to address an overall perspective, insight, or attitude.
Using the insights and conclusions gained from the previous steps, the participants identify and share how they plan to apply or otherwise incorporate these new insights into their work and their lives. This is a critical step in adult education programs because it gives participants the time needed to incorporate the new information into their context in meaningful ways. Questions such as "Now what?" and "How can I use what I learned?" can help participants begin the application process.
The workshop should end with you, the facilitator, briefly summarising the key workshop events , linking these to the goals and original expectations. It is important for participants to feel that you accomplished what you set out to do, that their expectations were met, and that there is closure. You can also use this step to close one session and make a link to the next one.
Using Interactive Lectures
Lectures are useful for communicating information quickly and efficiently to a large group. However, lectures are successful because the material is unclear, the presenter is boring or unprepared, the talk is too long, there are no audio-visuals, or the conditions do not encourage learning (uncomfortable room temperature, uncomfortable chairs, unreadable overhead transparencies). Lectures tend to be teacher-centred and are not very effective ways of preparing workshop participants to actually use the knowledge they gain. Nevertheless we should not ignore lectures totally; a short, interactive lecture can be a very effective workshop experience. Here are some tips for conducting an interactive lecture.
KISS: Keep It Short and Sweet
Keep your lectures short (less than 15 minutes) to maintain a high level of interest. Select three to five key points that are most important and use your talk to explain and illustrate them. These key points could be given on your handout, with spaces left between them for participants to make notes as they see fit.
Ask Probing Questions
Throughout your interactive lecture, ask workshop participants probing questions that anticipate issues raised in your talk so as to encourage them to think about specific ideas raised in your presentation. You might also introduce one or more short group activities to encourage interaction. Do not read a prepared "speech" or "paper", but rather talk about the topic in your own words so as to let your enthusiasm for the topic show through. By these means workshop participants will be more engaged.
Outline Main Ideas
Make sure that the important points of your lecture presentation are kept in focus. Make an outline of your lecture presentation so you are better able to emphasise your main ideas; once again this outline might be distributed to participants to enhance their note making capacity.
Set Time Limits
Give the groups a set amount of time to complete the allotted tasks. Write the time on a flip chart or overhead transparency. Each group is expected to manage its time effectively in order to complete the task. Do not give groups too much time - they could become bored and distracted; it is easier to extend the time than to shorten it.
Logistics of Choosing Groups
You might want to make small group activities to break the routine or combine participants who have not yet worked together. You can use name-tag codes, counting off, alphabetical ordering, pre-arranged table groups or picking numbers or colours out of a hat. Do not waste time with complicated procedures for getting people in groups.
You should assign roles to workshop participants who can help facilitate small group discussions and reports. For example, you might ask each group to assign:
- a group leader (to keep the discussion moving and involve everyone);
- a group reporter (to present the group's findings or ideas to the larger group);
- a group secretary or recorder (to keep notes on the group discussion or to create flip charts);
- a timekeeper (to ensure that the group covers all aspects of the task and finishes on time);
Monitoring Small Groups
As the participants work, it is important for you to move from group to group and be available for questions from the participants. The groups might need clarification of the task, or they might get side-tracked and need your help to pull them back to the task. Be on the look-out for participants who are either dominating their groups or not taking part. It is also important to periodically let the groups know how much time they have left.
Playing Your Part in Role Plays
Role plays offer workshop participants an opportunity to build confidence, learn new information, practice new skills, or improve ability to work with others. To make role plays effective, it is important to plan them carefully, make participants feel comfortable, and be clear about why you are using role playing.
Role plays should have specific goals; be relevant, realistic and interesting, and should be fairly short (10 - 15 minutes), open-ended (not scripted) and simple. In addition, they should contain a dilemma and include clear roles and character descriptions. Try to assign roles that represent different views or create some type of compelling interaction that will help participants learn.
Set the Climate: Get the participants interested in the role play and what's about to happen. Try to link it to previous sessions; schedule it to occur after participants have had time to become comfortable with one another.
Share the Purpose: Clarify the goals of the role play. Give some insights into what participants might learn.
Provide an Overview of the Situation: Explain the role play to the group, giving descriptions of characters and situation, and any important background information.
Hand out Role Descriptions: Pass out copies of the overall scenario and the individual roles. Keep the character descriptions short and simple. Have the participants pair up to discuss how they will prepare for the roles.
Ask for Volunteers: Solicit volunteers to play each role. Also explain that if people feel uncomfortable during any part of the session, they can say "freeze" and the group can help support them and give them ideas about how to proceed. It's important to make role playing as non-threatening as possible.
Use Observers: Give observers a task so they are engaged during the role play and have a common focus. Write the task on the flip chart and link it to the purpose of the role play.
Coach Role Players: Help the players with the roles if necessary. Give them time to prepare and feel comfortable. You might want to have them rehearse in another room.
Set the Stage: When the role players come into the room, explain where they should sit. Introduce them as the characters they are playing.
Stop the Role Play: The role play should not last more than 10 minutes. You might want to aim for five to six minutes of actual role playing time and about 15 minutes of debriefing. Briefly turn the floor over to the observer who will lead a discussion about what just happened.
Making Case Studies: Telling Stories
Case studies, stories or scenarios can help workshop participants improve their problem-solving skills and increase their understanding of complex issues
Good case studies involve real, relevant, and interesting situations that have plenty of scope for interpretation and debate. Such case studies enable workshop participants to discuss workable solutions, to listen to different perspectives and to improve their critical thinking skills.
Case studies can either include a solution or withhold it to promote discussion. They are often written, but could also be presented in video format or orally by workshop participants.
There are many ways to use case studies in your workshop. In some sessions, a complicated case is the focus of a workshop. In other instances, a series of cases may be one part of a workshop.
If the case study is long, you might want to assign it as outside reading or use small pieces of it throughout the workshop; if the case study is short, you can ask participants to read it during the workshop. Whatever the format, the case study should fit participants' experience levels and interests.
Small Group Processing of Case Study
It is suggested that you process case studies using small groups, so that you can encourage more discussion and interaction among participants. Make sure to give each small group a specific task and give enough time for individuals to read and think about the case study before they move into discussion groups.
Before starting the discussion, remember to ask if there are any questions about the case study.
Questions for Engaging Case Studies
Case studies that present an unresolved situation raise questions that can be used to stimulate discussions in small groups, lead a large discussion, or guide participants as they read:
What seems to be the underlying issues?
How do the different characters define the issues?
What would you do in this situation?
What questions do you need to ask before you can determine what you would do?
What are the likely outcomes of these different actions?
Which outcome would be best ?
Give participants time to reflect on the case study and the associated discussions and then to make generalisations that go beyond the case presented. For example, ask participants for any insights they have gained from the particular problem presented, or for preliminary conclusions they have drawn from their discussions.
Encourage participants to think about how to apply what they learned from the case study to their lives and work as teacher educators.
Using Pictures and Other Media
Workshop facilitators use audio-visual aids to enhance their workshops and the different learning styles of workshop participants. Slides, videos and films can bring environmental concepts to life. Handouts, overheads or flip charts can be used to emphasise a point by drawing attention to it and thereby enabling participants to focus on the topic. Your choice of medium will depend on many things - room design, workshop format, topic, amount of time available, time of day, and personal preference. Here are a few things to think about when making your choices.
Write large enough so that letters can be read at the back of a room. A flip chart has several advantages: pieces of paper can be saved and hung on the walls as "visuals" and the papers can be prepared before the workshop, and saved from one workshop to the next. Use several colours, and keep the amount of text per page to a minimum.
For workshops with a large number of participants, "overhead transparencies" have the advantages of the image being larger and the facilitator faces the group while writing. Transparencies can also be prepared in advance. Keep the text to a minimum and use large letters.
Module Review Worksheet
1 Number and name of the module.
2 Purpose/focus of the module.
3 List the range of teaching and learning strategies used within the module.
4 Describe where this module could be used, perhaps with adaptations, within teacher education.
5 How could this module be adapted to suit other groups?
6 Are additional resources or information required for this module? Where/how could these be obtained?
7 Create an interesting poster on this module to share your ideas with other groups.
Six Steps to Planning and Facilitating a Workshop
1. Build Support
To be successful you need to build support for your workshop. This means getting approval, resources and/or help from colleagues, administrators, financial supporters, and other key player for your workshop. Explain to them how your workshop will enhance and complement the mission of their institution, this is an important first step. It is also important to discuss with these key players where they might like to be involved in planning, implementing, and evaluating your workshop.
2. Know Your Audience
You need to know your target audience and how they feel about taking part in a workshop you are designing. To know this you really need to ask them. Documenting participants' experiences of the topic before the workshop will help you develop a more effective and successful program. Make sure to ask participants about their expectations, needs and interests as well as prior knowledge and skills on the topics you hope to cover. Then use the information to develop your workshop goals and objectives.
3. Engage the Participants
There are many ways to design effective workshops. However, in all workshops it is best to engage participants in thought-provoking activities and discussions directly relevant to their work and lives. It doesn't take long for participants to tune you in if they can make the connection between the workshop and their own experiences. Incorporate the experiential learning cycle into all your workshop sessions to ensure high interest, relevance, and engagement. Also remember to model effective adult education strategies that involve participants and show them how they can use the same techniques in their own teacher education work.
4. Evaluate and Revise
Before starting each workshop, think about how it will be evaluated. Use this evaluation to revise and improve your workshop. Try some of the many different ways of conducting workshop evaluations, from paper to pencil evaluations to small group discussions. Make sure you evaluate and revise your workshop accordingly.
5. Be Prepared
Designing and implementing a workshop takes a lot of preparation. After you have decided what to do, make sure that everything - from handouts to equipment - is ready so the workshop runs smoothly and learning can occur. Participants should have clear expectations for your workshop and how it fits into larger Education efforts.
6. Set the Right Tone: Expectations and Follow-up
When a group of teacher educators files into a room to take part in a workshop each participant brings certain expectations, fears and experiences. As the workshop facilitator, you need to build on their knowledge and background to create a welcoming climate. Remember that workshop participants are likely to have different learning styles as well as a desire to take part in activities that will generate positive feedback and peer respect. By using your facilitation skills and attending to participants' learning you can build an atmosphere of trust and help your participants get the most out of the experience. You also need to plan opportunities for ongoing support arising from your workshop.