The distinction between 'warm-ups' and 'starters' is that the initial focus of 'warm-ups' may have nothing to do with the event or experience being reviewed, but 'starters' are for starting the reviewing process itself.
Most of the exercises described on the warm-ups page can be turned into 'starters'. The exercises described below go straight into the process of telling the story of the experience. Some of the exercises are game-like but they all involve processing (or in some way re-visiting) the experience that is to be reviewed.
This method demonstrates that no single person has a complete picture of the event. One person sits in the storyteller's chair and starts giving a detailed account of what happened. If any listener thinks the storyteller has omitted any detail, they change places with the storyteller and continue until challenged - and so on. If at any point you want to speed things up, you can (if this facilitator's privilege is claimed in advance) jump ahead in time and continue from a new starting point.
The same as the memory game only backwards. Start with the end of the story. Useful advice is to use the phrase 'and before that ...' to replace 'and then ...'. Challenges for omissions are encouraged as in the memory game. Why use this variation? Greater novelty, interest and fun? It can be useful for investigating causes (challenges for omissions can help to track down multiple causes). It's easier to control the time i.e. stopping people before they get back to the start is easier than stopping people before they get to the end.
'IT'S HAPPENING AS I SPEAK'
This way of telling the story brings the experience back to life. Each person in turn sits in the storyteller's chair to tell part of the story of a group activity from their own point of view in the present tense. Ensure that the story is shared out so that everyone may contribute. For example, for a group of six people each person tells no more than one-sixth of the whole story. Alternatively, to keep things moving, place a one sentence or one minute maximum on any single contribution, but encourage people to return to the chair to pick up the story at a later stage.
(RE-LIVING THE ACTIVITY)
SAME AND DIFFERENT
This story-telling method emphasises the individually different experiences within a group activity. Following a group activity, one person tells the story of their experience for about one minute. Listeners note down three points that were similar to their own experience, and three points that were different. The next person tells their story based on the three different points which they noted, while listeners record six points as before. Either complete the round, or stop the round and ask each remaining person to read out the items on their 'different' lists.
See 'Like, Unlike' for a variation of this exercise.
FINDING THE BONES
This summarising method helps to identify the essence of a story. In pairs (after a demonstration), one person gives a one or two minute account of the activity, emphasising their feelings and experiences to one or two listeners. The listener(s) then help the speaker to reduce the story to a few sentences, then to one sentence, then to a phrase (or three words), then to one word. The sentence, phrase and word are recorded by the listener and given to the speaker. In new pairs, and in a new role (speakers are now listeners and vice versa) the exercise is repeated. End with three 'rounds': single words, then phrases, then sentences.
(For more examples of 'rounds' and for more about 'rounds' visit the page.)
(THE ESSENCE OF THE STORY)
DRESSING THE SKELETON
This creative reviewing method assists the transfer of learning. As a follow up to 'FINDING THE BONES', each person sums up their story in ten 'feeling' words (or short phrases) and writes them down in the order in which these feelings happened. All papers are put into a hat. The reviewer pulls out one paper and records the list on a poster for all to see. The group now brainstorm all of the different situations which might fit this skeleton story. The 'owner' of the list is now presented with the poster and the process is repeated for each other list (either in the whole group or in sub groups). Amongst the brainstormed ideas might be some good ideas for applying what was learned in new situations.
(ASSISTING TRANSFER OF LEARNING)
This exercise is a means of training learners in the kind of questioning skills that help to bring out interesting stories. You are effectively training learners to be facilitators of each other's learning.
(DEVELOPING QUESTIONING SKILLS)
Note: The aim is not to come up with a standard blueprint - because working through a standard list of questions is a recipe for lifeless and unresponsive interviews. By focusing on questioning skills there is less pressure on the story-teller's ability to tell the story because the responsibility for getting the story out and re-telling it is that of the interviewers.
- Announce: 'For this exercise we will assume that story-telling is difficult. To demonstrate the technique, imagine you are all reporters, and I have a story to tell - but I am intimidated by all this attention from the media, so I simply respond to your questions and add very few embellishments'.
Make a note of all questions asked (ideally someone does this for you).
Display these questions after the 'journalists' have finished asking their questions.
Ask everyone to comment on the kinds of questions asked and the sequence in which they were asked - so that some attention is given to questioning skills.
Learners then take it in turns to be interviewed - in the whole group or in small groups.
By the end of this exercise, learners should have sharpened up their questioning, interviewing and facilitation skills. You can now choose whether to focus on these skills, or turn your (and their) attention to the nature of the stories that have been told as a result of this process.