Another Idea to Get Them Moving and Keep Them Engaged: “Anyone Who”

This is a follow up on a popular post from last fall that offered ways to actively engage learners in the classroom, boardroom, training or group counseling setting.

Research on the brain and learning emphasizes the importance of breaking up lecture and direct instruction with activities that involve learners socially, emotionally and physically as well as intellectually. Getting learners away from their desks and moving helps them engage more readily and retain lessons longer (Willis, 2010, Sousa, 2006, Medina, 2008).

Here is another favorite activity I have been using to “break up” lecture sessions and get participants moving, reviewing and reflecting:

Many group facilitators and educators use the well known “get to know you” game Have You Ever? as a way to build rapport and an understanding of commonalities in group team-building sessions. This game is known by many names and has many variations. I first learned it from Karl Rohnke (Quicksilver by Karl Rohnke and Steve Butler, 1995).

Have you Ever? is very popular and used in a variety of settings because it is fun, interactive and easy to play. Participants tend to “buy into it” because there is choice and control built into the game (i.e. participants can choose whether they move when a question is asked).

  • In the original “commonalities” or “get-to-know you” version of the game, the facilitator provides a spot marker for every person in a circle on the floor.
  • Traditionally one person stands in middle (though I now use a different colored spot marker on the perimeter instead of the middle spot-see below).
  • They ask a question such as “Have you ever climbed a tree?”
  • Then anyone who has climbed a tree leaves their spot and tries to find a new one.
  • Someone new ends up on the “question asking spot” and asks another question of the group sharing something about themselves and looking for commonalities with other group members.
  • To add greater depth to the sharing, I invite the person who landed on the “hot spot” or “question asking spot” to share a little about the experience they thought of when they moved, for example they could share about when and why they climbed that tree. I find most participants enjoy this and it adds interest and a deeper sharing around the commonalities and unique experiences group members have to share. You can increase involvement in this activity when you acknowledge that participants who are more introverted can sometimes find this game fear-inducing. When some people are put on the spot to come up with a question they can experience enough of a stress overload to actually decrease cognitive engagement (Willis, 2010- Perry, 2009).
  • I add more opportunity for choice & control within the game by providing a buzzword such as “Bananas” that group members in the middle can use if they can’t think of a question to ask.  When this buzzword is used everyone has to move.
  • Or, as my colleague Michelle Cummings once suggested, don’t have a middle spot at all. Instead provide a “blank spot” or alternative color spot for the question asking spot.I have come to prefer this version of the game because it increases comfort, buy in, and the question asker can see the whole group and no one has his or her back to half of the group circle.

Lately I have been re-purposing this activity for reflection and academic review
. With some variations, Have You Ever? works as a kinesthetic way to review academic material in the classroom, assess a group’s knowledge around a subject, pre-teach, or jumpstart a group discussion. I have used it effectively in the classroom, training programs and team-building sessions as an active way to engage a group in dialogue and reflection.

To re-purpose the Have You Ever? game into an academic review or reflection activity:

  • Change the question from Have You Ever? to Anyone Who…
  • In this version the person on the “questioning” spot asks a review or reflection question about the experience or topic at hand.
  • For processing or reflection group members pose reflective statements about an experience such as: “Anyone who had fun today” “Anyone who tried something new” “Anyone who stepped up as a leader “ etc.
  • For academic review you can prepare relevant questions on an index card such as: “Anyone who can name one thing the earth’s atmosphere does for us”, “Anyone who knows the difference between a metaphor and a simile” “Anyone who knows what happened at the Alamo” etc.
  • There are a number of ways to share the questions and answers in the game. The person who ends up on the questioning spot could share the answer when they arrive there, or they could ask for input from others who moved.
  • I have participants design the rules of the game in a way that works best for their group.

Anyone Who can be a great way to start a dialogue about reactions to a reading assignment or to review material right after a lecture or direct instruction. This can be a method for assessing knowledge of a subject within a group, or as a technique to introduce a subject prior to a lesson or group experience.

Whether you are a classroom teacher, college professor, corporate trainer or counselor you will find that incorporating movement into your lessons and discussions can increase engagement and help learners better retain and synthesize information from your lessons. Activities that were originally created as ice-breakers can be easily re-purposed for review and reflection. Hopefully this variation will inspire you to think of ways in which some of your own favorite activities could be re-invented as active review methods.

Variations on the “Have You Ever” activity are referenced in many publications; I first ran across it in Karl Rohnke and Steve Butler’s Quicksilver, 1995 Project Adventure/ Kendall Hunt Publishing.

Patrick Torrey contributed a reflective variation of a similar game “All My Neighbors Who” in the 2005 book A Teachable Moment-Cain, Cummings & Stanchfield.

Resources on the Brain and Learning:
Medina, John. (2008). Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Ratey, John. (2008). Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. New York: Little Brown and Company.

Sousa, David. (2006). How the Brain Learns. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Willis, Judy. (2006). Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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