Outdoor Ed

OUTDOOR ED: Communication

As part of Outdoor Ed we delve into personal skills, working with others and leadership… so ‘communication’ is something we explore and debrief quite a bit. A pretty ‘dry’ topic to ‘lecture’ about teachers typically go for a ‘games’ approach – using team games or initiatives to stress the importance of communication.

Problem I find is students banter the word ‘communication’ around like they know what it means. Let me explain.

So we’ve just played a game, watched a video on someone leading a group or talked about real life examples such as sporting teams or community groups students are apart of…. And I’ll ask something along the lines of “so what skills are needed to make this ‘situation’ work well?” And I’ll be met with the following: “Team work! Communication! Leadership!”

All great words. And technically what I was after. But wanting more I say “There is a lot to communication. Explain what you mean”. And thats when it gets a little quiet.

So its followed with further questioning such as….

  • Sending message: Clear instructions? Voice projection? Use of words? Body language? Non-verbal cues?
  • Recieving message: Did people look like they were listening? Did people understand what was said? Did people clarify their understanding? Were messages misinterpreted?

The latest activity I have used (for relatively cohesive team having spent a Semester, including expedition, together) was to put together an instruction sheet of six random games. All games required no equipment and could be done inside a classroom within 50minutes. The main ‘team game’ I used I knew the group had done previously at a school retreat so they were familiar with how it should be done but still needed to make it work amongst them.

My brief was basically “I challenge you to complete these six activities within the 50minutes of class time. I’m leaving it completey up to you. I’ll be here to clarify instructions if you need.”  Then I sat back and watched, whilst taking notes on everything the group did. My notes included things like who read instructions, who asked questions, who demonstrated things, who talked off topid or mucked around etc.

In the next class we debriefed the session. We started with a general discussion – what happened? was it a success? what worked well? what could have been done better?. Which quickly led to ‘communication!’ being yelled out. When asked “explain that to me” students got a bit stuck. So the notes I had taken were handed out for students to read. Specific examples of good and not-so-good communication were then recognised and discussed.

Games I used for this session:

  • Team Name (A = 1, Z = 26. Create a word that adds up to exactly 100)
  • Soundless wave (Like a mexican wave but a different action per person. And each person to hold that action until new wave passes by them)
  • Have you done this? (Everyone to share something ‘unique’ about them. Can not be ‘true’ for anyone else in the group, has to be unique just to them.)
  • Everybody up
  • Gimme a leg to stand on
  • Brainteasers as back up if finish early

Other communication games and activities:


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