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Communication: Classroom Activities

Written Communication Activity


Purpose: Development of writing and collaborative skills.

Divide the group into teams of two people. Each team has one piece of paper and two pencils. When the leader starts the clock (a two minute time limit is suggested), the teammates are to write a single letter between them, each of them adding only one word at a time. They are to write as quickly as possible, not going back to re-read anything but the last word added.

No attention should be paid to grammar or spelling. Punctuation should be added only as it is needed for the sense of the letter. There is no need to complete the letter. The team should focus on writing one letter to anyone they wish, in any format that emerges. After the two minute period, each letter is read aloud to the group.

An interesting sequence of events emerges when this game is played more than once. At first the letters tend to be nonsensical. This "scribble stage" should not be discouraged; besides, the abstract sense of the ridiculous can be very entertaining. As the game is played more often, the letters will become more cohesive.

Verbal Communication Activity



To tap Into intuitive communication skills, verbal dexterity, to increase the ability to speak in front of a group with confidence.

A chair or stool is placed in front of the assembled group. The leader then points to a player and asks him to "Tell me about the time"-that some absurd or fantastic thing happened to him.

"Tell me about the time you sold rat poison on the moon," "Tell me about the time you financed Gary Hart's presidential campaign," etc.

The chosen player has a count of 5 to get from his seat to a position standing behind the chair (he's not allowed to touch, lean against, or sit in it) and to begin telling everyone the story of the time he did whatever the leader has asked about. He keeps talking, expanding on the story until he is released by the leader.

Shyer players may be asked additional questions by the leader to draw them out and to keep the story moving along.

Nonverbal Communication Activity


This is a version of the improv game called Silent Take. Use this activity towards the end of the quarter when the students know each other well. It is a little complicated to explain, but here is how it works:

  • Break the students into small groups (2-3 students per group is ideal). You will need an even number of groups — for example, a class of 20 is perfect because it breaks into 10 groups of 2. If you have an odd number of students, someone will have to go twice or you will have to jump in.
  • HALF of the groups get a slip of paper that describes a simple scene that can be acted out by 2-3 people, like a hypnotist relaxing a patient or chefs taping a cooking show. The other half of the groups do not get a scene.
  • Each group who got a scene will come to the front and briefly act it out. The catch is they MAY NOT USE WORDS when acting out the scene. I do encourage them to use gibberish (like blah, blahs) to give the other group some paralinguistic clues. This group never tells any of the other groups what they are doing.
  • After the group with the scene finishes, one of the other groups (those who did not get a scene) comes up and copies the actions from the prior group but ADD THE WORDS. They have to make their best guess of what the first group was doing.
  • After each set of scenes, ask what clues the second group relied on in order to guess the activity and ascertain whether they got it correct.

This takes some time (appx. 20 minutes with 20 students), but the students have a lot of fun with it and even those who are not exactly right will often be very close. It does a great job of illustrating how much information we get from nonverbal clues.

Note: YouTube has many examples of improv groups performing this activity (without the gibberish). Search for “Silent Take” if you want to see one.