In-class exercise for group communication

I like this as an ice-breaker exercise for groups that are assigned to work together on an upcoming assignment. There are several variations of it online, some developed for younger students. It takes 15-20 minutes but serves well to get the group members talking and working together.

Each group is given a made-up word. They are to treat that word as if it is a newly discovered animal and prepare a brief presentation about it to share with the class:

  • What does it look like (size, teeth, fur, scales, nose, claws, color, tail, etc)? Have someone create a drawing to share.

  • Is it a mammal, reptile, amphibian, fish, marsupial?
  • What does it eat? What eats it?
  • What kind of habitat does it live in?
  • What sound does it make?
  • What survival characteristics does it have?

Each group then shows their picture and shares their animal descriptions. I then point out that while doing this each group most likely laughed together, built on each other’s ideas and used a lot of brainstorming. This is the exact approach that they want to have in their upcoming group meetings.

I’m particularly amazed how this project encourages the participation of normally quiet students. It would be followed by a group meeting to discuss the assignment.


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About teachingpublicspeaking

I believe public speaking can go from most dreaded class to favorite class. I'm a former public speaking college instructor who spent years seeking out activities, assignments and examples to make the class interactive as well as educational -- they are collected here. I welcome suggestions for additions.

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