Go Wildcats

hsm.jpgAs part of the residential last weekend we went Ice Skating at the Swindon Link Centre. Amusingly for the teens and I, the hockey team based there (and hence the logo’s around the place) were, ‘The Wildcats!’ This was great ….. and helped us get our heads in the game!
BTW, anyone seen HSM 3 yet?
The trilogy is complete 🙂

Engaging teens in discussion

teenchatoutsidegroup.jpgJacob and Brian over at Re-thinking Youth Ministry have posted a list of 10 ways they use to enable discussion with teenagers. They are:
1) The Continuum
2) Hypotheticals
3) Graffiti wall
4) Fishbowl
5) Vote
7) Images
8) Talk Partners
9) Role Play
10) Talk Tokens

If you want the fuller explantations then click through to their post, or I have included them in the extended entry on ‘continue reading.’
I use lots of the above strategies but thought I’d try and throw some additional thoughts, ideas and suggestions into the mix!
11) Build Trust: Remember you can’t instantly have deep discussion. Use a ‘Throw and Tell Ball‘ or the like, start with discussions that are low key and non threatening but demonstrate you are interested and listening. Know if you are working with teens there will be off-the-wall mad questions … and how you handle these is a test of whether discussion really is safe or not. (see also the Bosworth Googly)
12) Stick it notes: I’m a big fan of stick-it-notes and find that teenagers are very happy to scribble individually or in groups on stick it notes. The notes mean that young people who don’t like speaking out in a group feel more comfortable and/or there can be a degree of anonymity. You can also divide up a response really easily by say people sticking their responses/questions/thoughts to either the ‘Agree’ or ‘Disagree’ sides of something.
13) The neutralised Question: How might ‘someone in your class’ at school or ‘someone in church’ answer that.
14) Making Stuff: Asking for a creative response, give out pipe-cleaners or plasticine and invite teens to make something that represents how they feel about the given issue!
15) Their questions driving the discussion: Build trust, introduce the topic and ask them to write the questions that will form the discussion (let them do this anonymously …. oh and you may want to encourage them to write ‘open’ questions not ‘closed’)
16) Overturn Fear of getting it wrong: You have to work hard at creating the idea that discussion is cool, that you are not using questions to arrive at the ‘right’ answer. That the discussion is genuinely important in and of itself.
17) You don’t have all the answers: When teens know that you don’t have all the answers and there are questions you are wrestling with it can be really freeing
18) Environment: Think about the environment in which you are discussing. If it feels like school they’ll respond acordingly. Work hard too at taking out the power dynamics (eg not sitting higher than the group, being part of the group not removed from it etc)
19). The debate: Randomly divide the teenagers up into, for example, ‘support’ and ‘Oppose’ groups on a particular issue. They have to argue their position regardless of their personal conviction on the issue. This can be quite liberating and lead to a great discussion of the issue without anyone feeling vulnerable about their own position or thoughts.
Please add your thoughts/ideas via the comments!

Continue reading “Engaging teens in discussion”

Crocodilian Legalese

Life is mad busy today so no time for the usual *cough* finely honed blog entry, I will however grab the opportunity to write up a true story that makes me laugh.
A friend of mine works in the justice system and was present in court one day when this particular case was being heard. The man bringing the case had chosen to represent himself (as it were) rather than using a lawyer, and thus made an opening speech outlining the case. In closing he grandly said, “Those are the allegations your honour, and I am (brief pause while he searched for a term with suitable legal gravitas) … the allegat-or!

Now that’s what I call a Youth weekend

silbury walk.jpg
I got back last night from speaking on an uber-fab weekend away with a top top bunch of young people. I hope you’ll forgive a bit of a show-n-tell post, BUT I’m writing it up in case there is ‘stuff’ you can appropriate and use!
Venue: Legge House near Swindon. Great venue, semi-out in the sticks but also close to Swindon for Ice Skating, Swimming, bowling etc (or a Train museum??!!). The venue itself had a good meeting room, a games room, a couple of lounges. The kitchen was large, the dorms were as you’d expect and the leaders block upstairs was REALLY REALLY nice!
Activities: The team had put a whole bunch of stuff together but there’s a few things that may translate really well. There was a whole treasure hunt/photo challenge based around Avebury and Silbury Hill (if you are going to Legge House and want a copy, shout) which led to points for the teams. Later that evening the team used their points in an auction for ingredients for a Ready-steady-cook dessert challenge. This proved hilarious and the auction really added a great dimension to the challenge.
spag tower.jpgOther quirky challenges over the weekend included who could build the highest tower from spaghetti (uncooked obviously) and marshmallows. We also had a Wii projecting onto the big screen and some hilarious races using Mario and Sonic Olympics.

Spiritual Programme:
We explored a whole bunch of stuff but the highlight for me was a late night quiet service. The vicar of the church was a top bloke and lent me the church keys, I’d set up candles and a circle of cushions and put an amplifier and speakers in place ready.
I explained to the teens what we were trying to do (putting a service together from scratch that was creative, participative and experiential) and gave them the challenge of making it happen. I divided the service into 6 sections: Gathering, Confession, Worship, Word, Prayer and Sending and the teens selected the group they would belong to. Needless to say, they really rose to the challenge and forty minutes later we walked over to the church ready to worship and explore together. I’m not going to write up the service itself but it was an extrordinary time and I was really moved/blessed by being part of it. Fab!
Making me laugh: Due to the current configuration of my moustache/beard I became known as “Walrus” which somehow became the “Walrus of Love” but due to the slightly weird sounding aspect of that (and me being the preacher) I became the ‘Walrus of Christian Love”
At lunch time on our mammoth walk I broke open the emergecy pack of plasticine (I have a lot of junk in my rucksack) and someone made a Walrus, thus the Purple Walrus of Christian Love became the mascot of the weekend!
the purple walrus of christian love.jpg

Youtube to Powerpoint

media convert.jpg
OK, here is the most idiot proof way yet of using Youtube videos in Powerpoint presentations! Click here, type in the URL of the Youtube vid’ and select mpg as the file type to convert to. When it’s finished, click ‘save to file’ and it will be on your desktop. Fab!
It will play in Windows media player
or you can insert it into a Powerpoint slide by ‘insert’ then ‘movies and sounds’ then ‘movies from file’ and click on the clip on desktop or wherever you’ve moved it to.

Further tip:

As the clips cannot be shown full size* I tend to put a picture of a TV on the slide and then insert the video clip into the screen, for example:
powerpoijnt tv snap.jpg

This info is info for PC, I know that someone with a Mac will point out something like, hey the Mac runs an app’ that re-configures peoples eyesight for full screen viewing!

Mad Game

We had a mad session at my CYM small group yesterday and I thought the ice breaker was worth sharing (thanks Kerry). This is what we experienced:
The leader placed a whole bunch of things on the table. In this case: a spatula, a small tub of jelly, a ruler, a scarf, a Yorkie bar, a spoon, a newspaper, some Chewitts, string, straws and rubber bands.
We were divided into two teams. The teams took it in turn to choose and collect objects from the list above (without knowing the purpose). Once all the objects had gone we were given the object of the game which was:
You have five minutes to design a fun game that uses every single one of your objects. You must then run the game!
The team I was in had the newspaper, rubber bands, chewitts, scarf, ruler and spatula.
We came up with a game whereby a blindfolded goalkeeper held a container (made from the newspaper) and a ‘striker’ had to attempt to flick rubber bands into the container. This was made more difficult by two defenders, equipped with the ruler and the spatula respectively, who attempted to ‘bat’ the rubber bands away from the goal.
A Chewitt was awarded to the striker for each goal or to a defender for each succesful parry!
mad game straw challenge.jpgThe other team had the string, straws, Yorkie, jelly and spoon. They elected to tie the two competitors hands behind their backs (thus using the string) and challenge them to arrange the straws into a neat square and then eat the jelly using only their mouths/faces. The reward for success being the Yorkie bar!
I commend the game (with objects of your own mad inspiration) to blogdom, have fun!

Change is afoot

times they are.jpgThere’s a lot of stuff going on at the moment in the world of youth (and children’s) work with big changes afoot.
ISA registration: Should go live 12 months from now, EVERYONE who works with young people will need to be registered with the Independent Safeguarding authority. (Note that the are now using the language of vetting and barring which they had dropped for a while). The webpage is here.
Passport Registration Scheme: Currently only a proposal but a serious one nevertheless. The idea is that there would be a document/record detailing your experience, training and qualifications. This is the kind of idea, this is the current response of the NCVYS (national council of voluntary youth services) and a forum for your response.

The Integrated Qualifications Framework (IQF)
“The IQF will be a set of approved qualifications that allows progression, continuing professional development and mobility across the children and young people’s workforce”
This is part of a whole bunch of work from the work of the CWDA (Childrens (including youth) workforce development agency) that wants to see a minimum set of standards and training for work with young people. (this is more about local networks, referral and standards than the actual skills). As far as I can see this will be a prerequisite if you are delivering services and/or receiving funding, I am not (so far) seeing this as being aimed at church based volunteers.
Please add to me knowledge if you can!

This is the earth that God made

this is the earth.jpgIt’s always great when my colleague, the children’s worker, gets a pile of books delivered! (You can’t beat a REALLY good children’s book). One that arrived today is ‘This is the Earth that God made,’ it uses a ‘this is the house that Jack built type rhyme and is rather good fun!
“This is the Earth that God made.
This is the rolling, rocking sea that drinks from the fountains that flow from the mountains that rise from the dirt that covers the Earth that God made ………………. etc”