Activity: Take A Stand

Take A Stand is an icebreaker that lasts five to twenty minutes. It can be used with any group size, and in order to facilitate it you’ll need a list of topics and signs (see below)
TAKE A STAND DIRECTIONS

Facilitator Notes
This icebreaker works in more ways than one. Not only do you get your group thinking and taking a stand on topics that participants will have the chance to defend, but you get your group physically moving. You’ll need to prepare in advance—and the variations of this group ice breaker are only narrowed by your imagination.

Before You Arrive…
  • Bring topics to the session. Take A Stand is most effective if the topics about which you ask participants to take a stand are related to your session. These topics will let you move into related discussions and content at the appropriate time.
  • The topics you choose will help participants think about the topic of the session while getting comfortable talking with the other participants.
  • Take A Stand can also work well with groups who know each other and with strangers.
  • There are no right or wrong answers—just different opinions and feelings about the topic.
  • Select topics that are controversial without being divisively controversial. Topics focused on schools, education, youth may help you accomplish your purpose. Remember: you want participants opening up to each other, not closing down.

Steps

Step 1: Prior to the arrival of participants, turn your session room into a continuum. Do this by hanging a sign on each end of the room.

·         One sign should say: Totally Agree – 100%.

·         The sign on the other end of the room should say: Completely Disagree – 0%.

·         At the midpoint in the room, hang a third sign that says: Neutral or Undecided – 50%.

This provides your participants with guidance about where to stand when they take a stand in the group ice breaker.

Step 2: As participants arrive, ask them to take a seat as they normally would for your session.


Step 3: When everyone is seated, explain the following: 

o   You will present the group with a series of topics, statements, or conundrums.

o   Group members are to react to the presented statement by signifying the degree of their agreement or disagreement with the statement by taking a stand physically somewhere along the continuum. Point out the different locations where you hung the signs.

o   Once all participants have physically moved to the location that best represents their point of view, suggest that participants share their rationale with the people standing near them. Do that with each statement.

Step 4: When you’ve read through all the topics, lead an overall debrief of the exercise by drawing out the thoughts of various participants about why they took the stand they took.

After you’ve done the first part, ask the group whether anyone or anything in the room influenced the stand that they took took.

Sample Topics for the Take a Stand

Here are ideas for common group ice breaker topics.

Schools

  • My students would think less of me if I showed them I didn’t know or understand a topic in class.
  • School leaders like principals and school board members would be suspicious if I started engaging students in all classroom decision-making.
  • Students who ingratiate themselves with adults in schools receive extra privileges, favored treatment, and maybe, better grades.
Community Building

  • How important is developing community norms or guidelines to a project’s success?
  • How key is the role of nonprofits to your community’s success?

Youth Involvement
  •  Adults care more about enforcing policies than being youth advocates.
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

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