The recent book I'm diving into is, Social and Emotional Learning in Action: Experiential Activities to Positively Impact School Climate, by Tara Flippo. Early on in the book I came across the activity Commonalities - one of those activities that's been around for a while and still super-useable, super-engaging (Quicksilver, Rohnke 1995).
Still in the "what-activities-can-I-do-online" mode, Commonalities can be a good one. Here's how I intend to use the activity online with groups of 10 to 25 participants (pretty much the same way I use it face-to-face):
- Tell everyone they will be going into 'breakout rooms' for about 2 minutes with a few others (groups of 3 to 4) to discover things they all have in common - everyone in the group has done or likes, for example. (While face-to-face, they just get together in groups and go off somewhere to talk.)
- During the exploration, someone in the group will keep notes (make a list) of the things they have in common with each other.
- After 2 minutes, everyone is brought back into the main room.
- The facilitator then asks for people to share, verbally, something his/her group has in common that is interesting or not-so-common. After something is shared, the facilitator can ask for anyone in the 'Gallery' (main room) to raise a hand if they too have that in common with the group that just shared. (Building awareness of others like you.) Take about 1 to 2 minutes for this exchange.
- After this verbal sharing, send everyone back into their breakout rooms and continue the process - same thing. Discover more things they have in common with each other. Add these commonalities to the list.
- After two minutes, bring them back to the main room to share interesting and/or unique commonalities.
- Then again. After some verbal sharing, send them back to discover even more commonalities they share - another 2 minutes.
- Bring them back to the main room to share out these new findings.
- And so on....
When face-to-face, I've done this up to 6 'discovery-and-share' rounds. And, I'm pretty sure I'll shoot for 6 rounds online as well (the more rounds, the deeper the exploration). You might be thinking, "Are you kidding! There's no way a group will want to do this that many times!" Exactly! Getting to REALLY know others is hard work. And, what does it take to really get to know someone?
I've found that after we start discussing the 'point' of the exercise (so to speak - 'exercise' being hard work as well), people start loosening up, realizing that, in fact, it is hard work getting to know each other. If the work can be done, with the appropriate mindset, it can actually be a fun experience. The kind of work you put into something is equal to the kind of reward!
For me, this process has always been a wonderful deep dive into getting to know each other!!
Let us know if you try it out and if you make any useful adjustments. Leave a Comment below.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.