Project title: Games Laboratory for Youth Workers
Project Number: 2017-2-PL01-KA105-039251
Project dates: 18-27 of March 2018
Hosting and applicant organization: Instytut Wschodnich Inicjatyw, Krakow, Poland
Trainer’s team was presented from Estonia, NGO Youth Club Active organization: Darja Djatsenko and Georgi Kaljakin. Project main coordinator – Marzena Ples from Polish organization IWI.
Countries and partner organizations: NGO Youth Club Active (Estonia), Mladinski center Zagorje ob Savi (Slovenia), RE.TE. Ong (Italy), Kultúrne centrum AKTIVITY, o.z. (Slovakia), Be International (Czech Republic), Asociacion DESES-3 (Spain), NECI (Greece), L’Orma (Italy), Kurybos ir inovaciju laboratorija (Lithuania).
Main aims and objectives:
– To involve youth workers to the recognition of the method “game” in non-formal education and become a part of the process of “learning by playing”
– To test in action different types of games and understand the content (structure) of this instrument (start of the game, main process and evaluation of the game)
– To involve participants to be a part of self-assessment process through playing and with help of YouthPass competences (use this certificate as an instrument).
Through sharing different attitudes and competences connected with “learning by playing” in international environment, participants gained different perspectives and improve the quality of youth work and activities provided to young people.
Now that the whole group was complete, and everyone reached the place safe and sound, we could start with getting to know each other. Mr George has introduced the 5-finger method, and the participants proceeded to share such things with each other as names, jobs, education, hobbies, as well as random peculiar facts.
We discussed to the rules of the venue and of the project.
After the break we learned of the aims of this project and how those correspond with Erasmus+ priorities, then moving on to presentation about E+ programme in general.
We then shared our expectations on an interactive goal map, which we can adjust throughout the week to show whether and how these expectations are met, and a contribution box was introduced for us to share our initiative and suggestions.
After lunch, an intense team building was in progress: first, we were passing the oranges from one box to another (best result: 45 seconds!), then, to roll the tennis ball on the piece of linen full of holes, from 1 to 24, making sure the ball doesn’t fall off the linen. Finally, the tangram game took place, where three teams were to create three single-coloured squares from differently shaped pieces.
The last session was devoted to the team formation theory, including the stages of formation, roles in a team, as well as the levels of team. We then proceeded to the reflection sessions in small group, both personal and group, the latter being based on the ‘Hand’ method.
The main activity of our first evening together was presenting our organizations and of course, delicious food we brought from our countries.
The main activities started! With an interactive way of travelling from country to country, we got familiar with typical (or not so) games in each participant country, and the catches were as follows:
• Estonia: carry the potato (role played by a mandarin) in a spoon, in teams
• Lithuania: tear a peg off the partner without releasing the hands, in pairs
• Slovakia: hand clapping game, in pairs
• Czech Republic: ‘story writing’ game, whole group
• Slovenia: running around the circle catching ‘the chicken’, whole group
• Italy: get the flag and bring it safely to your team, in teams
• Spain + Greece: blindfolded, recognise your partner
The experience provoked a lengthy discussion about similarities of games across the countries.
We then learned a bit about the history of games and then proceeded to sharing opinions about roles and importance of games with aid of statements, such as ‘there is no point in playing if you always win’, ‘games as a method in NFL will not fit all target groups’, ‘practice is more important than theory’, ‘NFL can only be used on base of formal education’. Before the heated debates started, we were reminded that in NFL there is no right or wrong, rather sharing the opinions, and that it is OK to change opinions at any time.
We then proceeded to figuring out the difference between formal, non-formal and informal learning, and found out of three important aspects of NFL: skills, knowledge, attitude.
After the lunch break we were divided into two groups by having our personal elements taken from us, and in the formed small groups we were to present the theoretical aspects about the game, such as its functions, possibilities and results. We then dived into theory about selecting the right game, leading it properly, providing clear and short instructions, and importance of safety, length, appropriate time and place, as well as knowing the right time to finish it. We learned of elements of three stages of the game (preparation, main process, conclusion), and were given a brief outline of game classification. Then, forming yet new groups, we started preparing the games to fit the function of each of all these classifications, and today we shall start playing those undoubtedly peculiar games!
Having started the day with wishing each other something nice.
And then the games started! We were to present the examples of different games according to the classification we received.
First, we had creativity developing games. In the example game the participants, in two teams, had to draw or show some sentence (the action decided by a coin flip), and whichever team guessed more charades or drawings correctly, would win. This game spurred a lengthy discussion on the cases, when changing the rules or not sticking to them would be appropriate. Overall, we were told that in this category the use of competition should not be present, rather focusing on involving the whole team in creating something, like poster or puzzle or whatnot.
The second category was sport game with focus on physical education. In the game we had to carry our team members into the central square, without touching them with hands, and every time using a different method of transporting.
Third category was informational games, which have a focus on developing cognitive abilities and logic. The example game was, again, the charades in teams, where the winning team was to take over a member of another team. The discussion, which followed, emphasized the importance of voluntary participation and a need to choose age-appropriate game.
Next category: psychological training, intellectual development. In small teams we had a task to ‘escape the prison’ (thus the name ‘Prison Break’) by memorizing the numbers and solving the riddle. The game received positive feedback, and the importance of titles was emphasized.
Our fifth game fell into the category of psychological games aimed at connection. In pairs, the participants touched fingers of their partners and had to draw a given letter or word with hands. This game surely relieved the pressure that might have been present after the competitive games before. The suggestions for this category were to avoid competition, to not use such games in organization period, to provide the relaxing atmosphere and to have a proper reflection afterwards.
Sixth category was organizational game, which comprises all possible team-builders, ice-breakers, meeting the territory and other participants, solving the team problems, finding leaders and overall role distributions in the game, and all such. The game involved all participants as one team, and they had to turn over the blanket on which they stood, so that nobody would step off the blanket in the meanwhile. The team managed it successfully, and the group spirit was up. The comments and suggestions included: no spoiling the team-building process, thus moderate flexibility in rules is allowed, and keeping in mind the main aim of such games, which is improving the within-team cooperation.
Seventh category: job/career-oriented games. The proposed game was a job interview task in two teams, interviewers and interviewees, and while conducting the interviews to avoid the use of letter S. The main suggestion was to make sure there is some cooperation and thought provoking in such games.
The final category were board and simulation games.
After the lunch break we created teams we then brainstormed the psychological portraits of 5 age categories , to present those, and to learn what characteristics are appropriate for games targeted at each age group.
And after that we played a simulation game based on the novel of John Wyndham, ‘The day of Triffids’. We were blindfolded in the darkness, and we had to regain our sight before the aliens win over. Sadly, we did not win the game. The reflection on this game raised many important points like trust-destroying factors, (not) listening to others’ suggestions, working individually vs in the team, and many more.
In the evening, Marzena invited us to participate in a simulation game now under development. Those who took part in it, please let us know how it went!
Was full of walking and exploring and having each their own kind of fun and visiting Exit-room in Krakow
We arrived at the sports hall and summoned up our energy by shouting good morning. And then our active and energetic part of the day started: first, we played a catcher game in teams, where one team had to catch the members of the opponent team ‘on the field’. Then we played with pegs in two variations. Then we played ball games, rope games.By then, everyone was pretty exhausted, and we proceeded to the parachute activity.
The very final game was to play yet another version of volleyball, this time with towels and a balloon with water. We surely deserved a nutritious lunch after such actions!
And after the lengthy break we had an expansion in the group: Agnieszka the leader of the hosting organization, with the youngest member, Martina the EVS volunteer from Croatia, and Wojtek – the developer of board games and expert on LARP and role-play games. We could ask him many questions regarding the board games and received a fair share of suggestions from him.
It was definitely something unusual, with all these trust games and initiative from participants.
And then the floor went to Paja. She introduced us to the some team-builders and energizers. Additional techniques to add to this exercise were later discussed, in a cosy reflection after these exercises.
Later we moved on to trust games led by Darja. First, in a circle we massaged our partners on each side, saying warm wishes and expressing warmth non-verbally. Then we moved on to the Corridor task. The next exercise was the Rubber Room. The final task was Flying, when the group was to lift one person up to the ceiling. Indeed, a lot of trust was needed, and hopefully it was enhanced even further, within the group!
Then we had the fairy tale therapy session called ‘Meeting yourself, getting to know yourself’.
After lunch break, we moved on to the video games. But not before playing a Train game as an energizer. To salt it up, we tried it blindly in the end.
And then the theoretic session on game commenced. We watched a video on brief history of games (many of us got extremely nostalgic), then discussed whether non-video game classification would apply to video games and learned what different classifications exist in the world of VG, including age ratings. We also watched the video on history of gaming, having seen many consoles, from ancient to modern. Further, we learned some information on mobile games: different ratings on different platforms, evolution of graphics, classification according to number of players, how the games can be distributed/obtained, and what the bestselling games are.
Then some brave participants played games on George’s mobile phone, and further we played many games among ourselves with use of our phones or tablets. Hopefully everyone had heaps of fun!
The reflection was based on the method ‘Backpack’, after briefly hearing of the method ‘Smiles’.
This was The Big Day. We had to work together to create a programme for an event Let’s Play Erasmus! to commence in local Jewish Community Centre for the local youth.
The morning started in a very peculiar way: keeping up with tradition of wishing each other good morning and some line dances.
It was our last theory session, on importance of reflection. In Non-formal Learning reflection is is needed to recognize the learning process. We discussed the differences between reflection and evaluation, then moved on to learning about the importance of reflection, the people who discovered this method, its main aim. As we are on an Erasmus+ training course, we connected reflection with skills-knowledge-attitude principle, too. Then we learned the classification of reflection: emotional (the one with focus on feelings, emotions, soul – and its methods of pictures, sand therapy, Dixit cards etc) and intellectual (focusing more on specific things, and for methods please refer to our reflection booklet). It was emphasized that both types of reflection are not necessarily needed for a given learning process, one more appropriate for the context of the process can be sufficient. We also learned about types of reflection: individual and group, then linking individual reflection to E+, YouthPass certificate and eight key competences. We found out why exactly these competences are chosen: because there is no limit in developing self in this area. Then in small groups we discussed and presented in simple words what each of these competences means.
On the event:
We arrived at the community centre, to meet those brave youngsters who decided to join us for the games night. Not too many were those, thus giving an opportunity to some members of our project group to join in as an audience, too.
After a brief explanation who we are, we opened this event with an introduction about Erasmus+ and its opportunities. Then a couple of energizers were in order: first, we all did a shamanic dance/ritual, to raise the good energy. Then, to introduce ourselves to each other, a small name game (say your name, show a move – the whole group repeats) had happened, and then the participants were split into groups of four with the Atom and Molecule method and got even more energized in their small groups: the Train game took place, where the groups pretended to be trains and followed the orders of the instructor: upon hearing ‘1’, first and second person in the train chain had to change, when ‘2’ was ordered, first and last were to change, and upon the command of ‘3’ the train was to change directions. Then the trains became blind, and the assistants led the groups to the places of stations of our Chinese Market.
There were three stations, which gave the teams specific tasks, and upon completion the teams would receive a small hint (a piece of the puzzle). The teams had 15 minutes for each station before moving on to the next one, one station per team at a time.
The first station, with an intellectual task, involved the participants into a quiz with European Union and Erasmus+ related questions, and to answer each question, the participants had to do a small jog around chairs. The second station was more physical/logical – the teams had to untie a ‘Human Knot’ (grabbing hands in a circle blindly) in four levels of difficulty: eyes open and possible to talk, eyes open but silent, eyes closed but can talk, and no see no speak. If teams managed all four levels quickly, Jungle Speed was in order. The third station was based on the creativity: the teams had to guess EU countries – one member was drawing something related to that country, be it its shape, stereotype, common dish or drink, a landmark or whatnot, depending on one’s creativity and imagination.
In the end, all hints were received, and a nice message about E+ programme appeared in a result of solving the final puzzle; however, to put it all together, all three teams had to cooperate and work together.
Then the reflection session was in order. It was more an intellectual reflection rather than emotional: with aid of ‘Hand’ method, the participants shared with us what they liked about the event, what was important for them, what they did not like, what activity suited their personality the most, and what would they change about this event. We received many kind words (with the most common negative feedback being ‘event too short’ or ‘should be more events like this’). And on a cheerful note we proceeded to even less formal part of the day, all full of good vibes and energy.
What a day full of emotions and reflection it was! But even the closing day was not a reason to break our tradition of wishing each other a good morning. First we raised our energy with raising hands and saying ‘good morning’ from whispering up to shouting loud. Then we greeted each other with different body parts: heads, elbows, knees, spine, and butt. After a couple of inspirational quotes were read to us, we moved on to reflecting on our emotions and roles in the yesterday’s event and preparation to it, with help of Dixit cards.
The next step was to think what we can implement ‘back in real life’ when we come back to our countries. Thus, we gathered in our national/organization teams to brainstorm which activities we can implement as dissemination of this project, later to share to the whole group to get suggestions and comments.
After that, the trainers talked about good examples of dissemination and overall E+ projects, focusing on three different Key Actions. An important point to draw from this session is that the best way to start writing E+ projects is developing a youth exchange, for it’s easier and more possible to deliver. Tips for writing a successful YE were mentioned: first, make sure it is visible in the application form that all participants are involved; second, pay attention at the learning outcomes (focus on small steps, don’t try to change the world immediately); and third – provide the names of organizations (and participants, if possible).
A YouthPass session was in order, and we started with watching a short informative video about it. It is the tool provided for the self-reflection, it’s recognized by organizations, it aids the systematic reflection of the life-learning process, also enhancing recognition of NFL and IFL.
After lunch the reflection and evaluation took place: on several different stations we were to use the Pizza method to express our (dis)satisfaction with different aspects of the project, Stickers to give a more detailed feedback on three-coloured chart (what we liked, what we were not yet too sure of, and suggestions for improvement), Goal map to update our goal arrows, and Survey to do the formal evaluation. Then the cute emotional part took place: first, we gave out the diplomas to our peers, whose name we drew on the very first day, and then, with help of wonderful dolls, we told our peers our thanks and warm wishes.
During the dinner we received our YouthPasses, page 1, and the rest is a history.