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  • Writer's pictureSumbella

Contrast in Workshop Facilitation

[#Facilitation + "Contrast"] Sometimes I worry about including simpler tasks like word-matches or other ‘lower order thinking’ activities on the Bloom's Taxonomy scale in workshops. I often fret that it isn’t going to be welcomed or enjoyed, or that it will be too easy. And that I'll see eyes rolling. Yikes.

But in today’s session at #WoodlemBritishSchool in #Ajman, I was delighted to find my fears are unfounded.

I think it’s because of the order of the activities we did, and because of an important word: #contrast.

For example, the session went like this:

1: Group plenary (focus: board) LOT (Lower Order Thinking activity)

2: Pair work (focus: paper / pen / physical circulation around the room) HOT (Higher Order Thinking activity)

3: Group review (focus: paper) HOT

4: Solo work (focus: paper) LOT

The solo activity in number 4 was the one I was hesitant about. It had participants quietly complete a ‘match the line to the relevant answer’ activity on their own sheet of paper. The answers were fairly straightforward.

I observed to see how it would be received.

And guess what?

As they filled it in, when we shared the answers, we had smiles, chuckles, thumbs up and ‘woohoos’ at the end as they waved their paper around.

Now that I reflect, I think it worked because of 'contrast'.

On the plane to Jordan this past weekend, I finished reading the #2HourWorkshopBlueprint by Leanne Hughes in one flight sitting. In the book, 'contrast' is a concept she talks about in facilitation. She’d already opened my mind to this a couple of years ago too and was reminded of it again.

Her book, coupled with my experience today, reminds me contrast doesn't have to be so vast - it can be simple differences:

Sitting, standing.

Solo, pair.

PPT, no PPT.

Cameras on, cameras off.

Chatting, silence.


Today, I liked placing a fairly easy breezy, solo task for participants to do at the end of this session. It was a chance for teachers to do their own thing, quietly, with full control over the paper. Kind of relaxing, even.

And it was so cool to see this unfold in a joyful way.

Who knew the fun a little matching worksheet could bring?

A big thanks to #WoodlemBritishSchool for welcoming us today. Congrats on your opening!

A special thanks to my colleague Anup Singh Khichi for the stellar support as always.

Still reading?

📸About the photos:

1 & 2: Spot the seating arrangement difference?!

3: Traffic lights. But why post this? If you look closely, you’ll see a countdown timer along with the lights. This is my nod of #Ajman appreciation - in this Emirate, one of the seven in the UAE, most of the traffic lights have a helpful countdown. Love it!

4: Mandatory karak/hot milk tea we had at the end of the session. This is a kind of bliss, too. Many folks of the UAE - you'll know. ;)

5: Street view of Ajman. Less high rise buildings, less Starbucks, more desert. :)

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