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  • Firefly News Flash, May 2011, The Firefly Group
    using relationships of size and space to emphasize certain information Prezi presentations have a lot of similarity to mind maps so they are a nice fit for people who think visually Save your Prezi for a live presentation record it as an e learning course invite people to join you for an interactive session on line or share it on your website Soon you ll be a convert too To spark your creativity here are several Prezis I created Click the right pointing arrow below each Prezi to load the presentation Then click More to choose full screen mode Navigate by clicking the arrows Firefly News Flash A recap of the major points of this newsletter Save it for later if you have not yet read the whole issue for May Firefly News Flash May 2011 on Prezi 99 Word Stories Ideas of how and why you should Say It Quick Notice how presentation can emphasize different elements This Prezi is all text but so are 99 Word Stories 99 Word Stories on Prezi Umatter A review of a training for Youth Suicide Prevention Created for the Center for Health and Learning Umatter You Can Help on Prezi You can also browse the Prezi library for inspiration and information When you do please what you find http prezi com Ideas Hogworts Theory of Learning In the Harry Potter series of books and movies I believe the professors at Hogworts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry do a poor job of teaching Typically they demonstrate a spell then expect their students to replicate it The teachers never give any real instruction There are no hints about how to pronounce a spell or wave a wand Harry and his friends are left to blunder through their classes defending themselves from dangerous creatures while creating comic relief for the rest of us The Hogworts Theory of Learning is not all fiction When my daughter entered high school her Social Studies teacher insisted his students use PowerPoint for their first group presentation But students were never given any instruction in how to use this tool without endangering everyone in the class In the end my daughter waved a laser pointer at pages and pages of text that she had dumped straight into a few slides Whenever you dump something whether its rocks socks or information you end up with a mess Someone needs to sort categorize and put everything in its place That s what learning is sorting making linkages and finding just the right place for new information among everything one already knows Instead of dumping set the scene for success A friend wanted help designing a day long workshop For one section the client insisted that project evaluators be given time to present their findings But my friend was concerned that people would get bored during 90 minutes of data presentation We began to talk about why this evaluation data was important What did people need to know Why did we think they

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  • Firefly News Flash, April 2011, The Firefly Group
    praise and criticism begin with broad general praise Keep criticism brief and specific with clear follow up and then give lengthy and detailed positive remarks Personality There are four basic personality types extrovert introvert critic and sidekick People with similar personalities trust each other more think their group is more intelligent and even buy more from each other Teams and Team Building Teams are created by establishing a sense of shared identification and a sense of interdependence Build identification by highlighting or establishing similar characteristics Build interdependence by emphasizing cooperation and recognizing all team members contributions Emotion All emotions can be boiled down to happy versus sad valence and excited versus calm arousal Happy people work better think better drive better and make other people happier Emotions are contagious surround yourself with people who have the emotions you wish to have Alternatively match your emotions to those around you if you want to fit in Persuasion Persuasiveness depends upon the degree that people see you as both an expert someone worth listening to and trustworthy should you be listened to Trustworthiness is usually more persuasive than expertise Increase your trustworthiness by reciprocating whenever possible Perhaps you see nothing new in these insights about human interaction Of course people with similar personalities will get along better with each other But Nass has learned to measure our reactions to highly complex interactions with a degree of objectivity that has eluded psychologists and social scientists until now The truth about computers is that they can reveal insights about how our own minds work By using them to administer tasks that evoke emotion team work or praise and criticism Nass has revealed the binary elements that make human relationships click Read the book for the cleverly entertaining experimental strategies Nass employed to learn about these relationships But you ll come away with gems of insight into how to be more effective in your own social interactions And when you do please let me know what you ve learned The Man Who Lied to His Laptop By Clifford Nass Penguin Group 2010 ISBN 978 1 61723 001 1 Ideas Teaching About Being Human At first it surprised me that someone would use a machine to help improve human relationships I am by nature skeptical when we use technology as a conduit to improve our interactions with other people Words deliver a message but a text or a tweet misses most of the emotions which are revealed by tone cadence context gestures expressions and pheromones Plus with a technological interface you can always switch off unplug or ignore when your interpersonal skills are lacking or a conflict ramps up a notch In the 99 Word Story this month Joan found that disconnecting her technology cleared the system and paved the way for a fresh start Similarly the work of Nass clarifies some of our most complex human interactions making it easier to travel the road toward successful relationships The irony is that he comes to these

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  • Firefly News Flash, March 2011, The Firefly Group
    mention winning a pie eating contest But how necessary is such a skill for most everyday tasks Turns out it may be more important than at first glance Since each hand is controlled by its opposite hemisphere you have to develop both sides of your brain to use your hands with equal dexterity So stacking cups quickly with fluid precision and coordination beefs up brain cells on both sides of the corpus callosum Stacking plastic cups and learning to do it well builds a well rounded brain Would regular practice in an ambidextrous activity increase brain capacity and flexibility for other activities What effect might it have on problem solving creativity or possibility thinking Though I don t have scientific research to back it up it seems logical that the neuronal connections necessary to produce fluid hand coordination would also contribute to a natural flow of mental coordination for other activities From a metaphorical point of view Speed Stacking is about moving to a rhythm that generates a natural flow It is brain and body coordinated for a common purpose where all elements contribute in harmony to a greater goal Whether we re talking about brain hand coordination teamwork or positive relationships at home when we resist that natural flow the cups fall down accumulate in the sink and cause consternation Activities Quick Stack By David Gouthro David Gouthro is the principle force behind The Consulting Edge Movers Shakers Inc where he provides innovative facilitation and training that s fun and effective Here he describes several ways to use Speed Stacking as a teaching tool Try some of them with your group then let your fellow readers know what happened Here are four different ways to use the concepts imbedded in the sport of Speed Stacking Each has begins with the principle or central concept to be learned and follows with just enough detail to be dangerous The importance of using the correct tools After demonstrating how to stack one of the competition stacks for example the 3 3 3 stack which is described on the Speed Stacking website provide groups with different cups to attempt the same competitive stack For example provide one group with regular plastic cups another with Dixie cups a third with relish cups and a fourth with unbreakable polycarbonate cups Tell the groups that there s going to be a timed competition and that they have 5 minutes to practice It soon becomes obvious that in order to accomplish the task the use of the correct tool is a tremendous advantage You will note that the speed stacking cups are custom designed for this challenge as described above From here enter into a conversation to explore the extent to which employees have the tools at work to perform at their best Different ways to teach Different ways to learn Separate the group into three One group is provided with written instructions regarding how to do the 3 3 3 stack correctly A second group is

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  • Firefly News Flash, February 2011, The Firefly Group
    von Oech s collection of creativity tools and books which includes the A Whack on the Side of the Head Ball of Whacks and the X Ball to name just a few items Like the Ball of Whacks and the X Ball the Y Ball is a set of 30 magnetized pieces that can be used to construct an endless array of figures shapes and designs It comes with a 96 page book with designs to copy activities to stretch your creativity and explanations that describe how the Y Ball was created But the Y Ball is plenty of fun by itself without being the stimulus for your next brilliant idea Pick it up any time you have an idle moment and have some fun I keep mine on the living room coffee table where it provides relief from inane TV commercials My desk is another obvious place except I would probably find myself distracted by the Y Ball s engaging possibilities Perhaps a warning is in order for this creativity toy If you can put it down be careful where you leave it because you ll soon find yourself drawn back by its magnetic possibilities Ideas Exploration and Chance Playing with the Y Ball is a constant exercise in creativity Once in your hands you ll find yourself participating in two important aspect of the creative process exploration and chance Because the pieces can snick together in so many ways you often end up making something you didn t expect Garb two pieces and match them up just to see how many different ways they can stick to each other Think you ve got that figured out Add another piece and see how the connections and dynamics change as the magnetic polls attract and repel in unexpected ways Make a series of shapes from four pieces How will these clones connect Soon you ve invented a surprising new object or perhaps you are looking at a previous creation from an unexpected angle Whatever happens eureka The Y Ball invites exploration If your intention is to recreate a specific shape you may easily become distracted from your goal Connect several pieces and you might discover they didn t match up the way you expected But the shape they snapped into is still intriguing and suggests a different idea you d like to try Pursue that new avenue and you ll likely find you have turned down a previously unseen alley with unexpected possibilities Chance encounters and linkages have helped you invent something you didn t realize was possible Again eureka The Y Ball demonstrates how free unstructured play can be a form of exploration and how chance can produce outstanding results when enough pieces are at hand and ready to be connected The 99 Word Story for this month emphasizes this link between exploration and chance Exploring new cultures we collect pieces of information that lead to chance discoveries back in the familiar territory of home When you discover ways

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  • Firefly News Flash, January 2011, The Firefly Group
    most conducive to innovation He backs that description up with extensive historical examples An innovation ripe environment Provides open access to ideas Encourages ideas to be recombined in novel ways Uses large malleable networks to share information Allows time for a hunch to develop and become connected to other concepts Tolerates ambiguity and a bit of chaos to foster serendipity Welcomes errors which lead to further experimentation Takes concepts from one field and applies them to another Creates a framework or set of standards that can become the foundation for further innovation Johnson also challenges the common notion that the competitive marketplace is the best environment for new ideas Because competition typically has to do with developing ideas that are marketable a market driven innovation may be shrouded in secrecy by patents and copyrights While these laws do protect the intellectual property of the inventor they set up barriers that prevent further innovation by limiting the free exchange of ideas that can produce synergy Profit is sometimes a motivation for innovation says Johnson but it is not the biggest source of new ideas A university research environment is typically more conducive to paradigm shifting innovations The book includes an informative Chronology of Key Innovations 1400 2000 which provides helpful perspective for people who like my mother are dazzled by innovation Whether you want to shift a paradigm or energize your own creative process you ll find ideas inspiration and historical examples in Where Good Ideas Come From 2010 Steven Johnson Riverhead Books ISBN 978 1 59448 771 2 Ideas Creating Innovative Flow The 99 Word story this month suggests that whether what we are doing at work is wasteful or productive depends upon our definition of what work is There is a lot that could be happening around the expected work tasks that actually makes a huge contribution to the real work that eventually gets done The same could be said for creativity it s not an activity that fits a simple definition Contrary to the popular myth of the wild eyed inventor working solo in a lab good ideas that characterize lasting innovations occur most often in situations where many ideas are shared people are encouraged to pursue hunches that produce mistakes as well as successes and there is space for serendipity One concept that Johnson talks about in his book Where Good Ideas Come From is the importance of liquid networks Anyone connected to the Internet knows the value of networks for transmitting and sharing information But a network protected by a firewall is also insulated from the outside influences that could be the genesis of a new idea A fluid network that allows for the overlap and collision of ideas is more likely to produce novelty Johnson makes the analogy of water changing from a solid to a gas to explain liquid networks Ice is too rigid for any change to happen Steam is too volatile for any changes to be contained and have a lasting effect

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  • The Firefly News Flash for December 2010, The Firefly Group
    nine cubes and make a story or deal the dice and let people roll one on their turn to advance the story If you are teaching announce a theme related to the training topic and challenge people to tell a story that fits Roll the cubes and create a story about how your team solved a problem or marketed a particular product Take them to your next coaching session and ask your protégé to tell a story about how to address a burning issue Keep a few cubes in your pocket and roll a story to inspire your next project The uses for these cubes and the stories they evoke are endless especially when you realize the tiny pictures can be used both at face value and metaphorically The images are flexible enough to be enjoyed by a variety of ages abilities and cultural backgrounds Once you hold them in your hand you ll want to tell a story too Rory s Story Cubes by Gamewright http www gamewright com gwintro html Ideas When Randomness Rules Stories can be an economical way to share information convey an idea enhance memory rehearse new concepts and have fun Several other issues of this newsletter have been devoted to the value stories can add to learning and creativity In addition the 99 Word story that begins each month s entry is an example of how stories can set the stage by providing a grounded context Rory s Story Cubes offer an interesting twist to the value of stories By introducing a random roll of the dice players have an added challenge for their creative muscles They ve got to somehow make connections between improbable concepts The result can be more inventive surprising relevant The effect of chance is a key ingredient for any

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  • Firefly News Flash November 2010, The Firefly Group
    my work as a practitioner I am especially excited now about the new research on the brain and learning and how that information validates some of these ideas about experiential education first put forward so many years ago FFN What is your favorite activity as a facilitator JS I really think beginnings and endings are very important I like to have a great activity to start off a group from the moment people enter the room and then an activity at the end of a program to tie it all together Oftentimes I use the same activity for both purposes To start a group I place an assortment of objects or postcards quotes or pin back buttons for people to choose from as they enter the room Depending on the goals of the program I might ask group members to choose a postcard that represents their goal or an object from my mini metaphors or a my toolbox collection that represents a strength they bring to the group The pin back buttons and quotes are great for starting this kind of reflective conversation At the end of a program it can be interesting to come back to the introductory activity to see how the group has progressed or how individual perspectives or goals have changed I like these object and image based activities for many reasons Often people find it easier to share when they can attach their thoughts to an object or image The reflection can become more metaphorically rich than with conversation alone This method is participant centered by putting more control upon the learner for interpreting their experience feelings or goals rather than the leader directing and possibly inserting their own interpretation or agenda This opens up a spontaneity of experience and possibly a deeper connection to the experience and relation to real life Recent research on the brain and learning suggests that when people can attach thoughts or key concepts to a metaphoric image they may retain it longer FFN Describe one of your favorite ways to lead a discussion or debrief an activity JS After the group has completed a lesson or problem solving task I place a whole set of the postcards charms or a number of objects out in front of the group I then ask them to choose one postcard or one object together that best represents what they achieved as a group Sometimes halfway through a program I will ask them to come to agreement on three cards or objects that represent where they started as a group where they have gone so far and where they hope to go next This method builds consensus Participants are drawn into the task of choosing and are often unaware they are processing Often group members share profound insights about the group experience as they discuss their choices to the group FFN How does an experiential approach to education fit in with public schools where the emphasis has become more and more on achieving

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  • Firefly News Flash, October 2010, The Firefly Group
    add your own XX Printing Print on a T Shirt XX History Experiment with different designs but still find that one you really liked 10 minutes ago XX Extras 101 Ways to use Word Clouds XX Read a brief review of several other word cloud generators here http 21centuryedtech wordpress com 2010 02 28 waiting for wordle free word cloud options to use now Ideas Open Space Thinking As the 99 Word Story this month suggests we can easily become carried away with talk Our words as they spill from our mouths take on a life of their own with results we may not have intended One way to address this might be to use fewer of them Though it can be difficult to do that in real time when emotions and urgency are also strong factors writing is a different story If you examine this word cloud created in Tagxedo from Too Much Talk the 99 Word Story selection above you ll notice most of the words have the same weight This reflects the careful attention to word usage needed to write in just 99 words If you aren t using many words you tend be choosy Tools like Wordle and Tagxedo make it easy to analyze the impact of written words Visual representations of text can show frequency of words used and reveal the underlying emphasis of the text Create a word cloud of a news article or a speech and with a quick visual scan you get the gist of its overall theme Or if you re stuck without a muse look at your writing in a completely different way Here s a new perspective with new inspiration from the previous three paragraphs The repetition of vocabulary actually makes the graphic more appealing It s interesting to consider how words take up space Spoken they can fill an awkward silence or crowd out the thoughts of a careful thinker Written they can cover the page leaving only a slim margin while metaphorically they might also fill the mind As a cloud words and the spaces around them contribute to one harmonious design For me it s a helpful reminder to use my own words in a way that opens more space for the words and ideas of others When that happens I usually learn something too If these ideas have opened some space for your thoughts I hope you ll what you ve learned Activities Making Words Work Play with word clouds yourself and you will probably invent more than one way to apply them in your own setting After seeing word clouds from the last issue of the Firefly News Flash Jennifer van Stelle shared how she uses them for evaluation She writes Here s a word cloud I made last year showing students favorite activities in UCSF s three week experiential summer program for high school juniors interested in exploring careers in science and health care As you can see students most favorite activities were

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