Web the Group’s Words

This planning technique is a group version of mind mapping; I use this system of visual note taking all the time to capture memories and ideas. Tony Buzan developed mind mapping in Britain a number of years ago; it’s used a lot more in Europe, but a good friend of mine used it in graduate school for everything from  notetaking to planning for her thesis.

Word Webbing, described on page 20 in the “Planning and Reflection” book from HIGH/SCOPE, gives the whole group a chance to participate in a giant mind map. The group has a giant sheet of butcher paper and markers. Begin the web or map by putting the central idea or activity in the center as a picture or a word in a frame. As the group brainstorms ideas, write broad categories, and then more specific item in branches off the central idea. As you go, connect the ideas that are related. When done, you have a picture of their discussion and can see how items are connected.

Connect Service to Life

Processing the experience is a core component of an effective service learning experience. You can process in a group or have group members create journals or portfolios. The questions here can be used for any of those methods; choose the ones that will help your group members internalize their service learning experience. This first group of questions will help reflect on what happened?

  • Look back on today. What struck you most strongly?
  • What happened?
  • What images stand out in your mind? What sights, sounds and smells?
  • What experiences and conversations do you especially remember?
  • What is it about these images that make you remember them?
  • Who did you meet and work with during the day?
  • Who did you relate to most easily? Who did you find it hardest to talk to?
  • Why?
  • What did you learn about the people you met? How are they like you?
  • How are they different?
  • What needs did your service try to meet? Did it succeed? Why or why not?
  • What information or skills did you learn today?
  • How did you apply what you knew before to this project?

What does it mean?

  • What was happening in your heart? What did you feel? Were you upset?
  • Were you surprised? Confused? Content? What touched you most deeply?
  • Why?
  • What did you find frustrating? What did you find most hopeful?
  • What would it be like to trade places with the people you worked with?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • What do you like about what you learned? What would you like to change?
  • How did the experience change or challenge your convictions and beliefs?

Now what?

  • How were justice and injustice present in the situations you faced today?
  • Did you learn anything new about what causes suffering?
  • What did you learn about how you can make things better?
  • How are you part of the problem? How are you part of the solution?
  • What did you learn today that will help you in your future service work?
  • What needs to change in the world to make things better?
  • What needs to change in you?
  • What hopes and expectations do you have for those you served? For yourself?
  • How did the service experience affect how you would like to live?
  • How did it affect what type of job or career you might choose?

Adapted from An Asset Builder’s Guide to Service Learning, A Search Institute Publication, 2000, page 96

Discussion Topics

Okay, I put it out there–What are some good discussion topics for middle school girls? Here is the first response I got on Facebook–
–music, clothes, dance, friendship and who’s cute-circa 1970’s
–music, clothes, dance, friendship and who’s cute -using cellphones, social networking, text, -circa 2009

Here are some more–

  • Media portrayal of girls/women
  • Cliques
  • Movies
  • Books
  • School
  • TV shows
  • Pets
  • Scars
  • Why you have your name
  • Grooming, cleanliness and makeup
  • How to pick out a good fitting bra and dressing for your body type