Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Moving Company Simulation

What if English Language Arts students were a Moving Company and they worked for an artsy, fartsty English teacher who requested design for eight different communication environments: coffee house, board room, talking circle, performance, movie theatre, rows, workshop, and debate? What if she valued initiative and creativity, challenging the moving company to create a communication environment she hadn't even thought of before?

The CEO of the moving company, wearing a safety vest, explains the challenge to the new recruits. Explains that the English teacher believes environment influences -- maybe even dictates --communication. A round table says, "Talk to each other." Two tables, opposite one another, say, "Let's debate."

One set of recruits has an impromptu meeting at the boardroom table to discuss ways they could better communicate and be more efficient. One recruit leaves the room frustrated. When he returns, his team meets in the talking circle to debrief some frustration and problem solve for the next challenge. One unit faces failure in their campfire design, but they still believe in it, and if there was just more time, they know it has potential.

They sketch diagrams into their Moving Company orientation package, time each setup from the coffee house base design, and describe the dynamics of each set up.

By the end of a couple hours, creativity and initiative abound. There's three new communication environments: a boat, a star and a campout. Modern art sculpture has been added to the coffee house. Feet meet in the talking circle. Performance has gone to new heights on a cat walk. Leaders have been born. Roles of planner, engineer, and lifter have been celebrated. New voices have been heard.

The English teacher makes a surprise visit to the job sight. She couldn't be happier. She can't wait to  take the plans into her classroom. Her students will certainly benefit from the diversity in the communication set ups.


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