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Words of Wisdom

52 cards and 15 activities to spark conversations and make sense of learning.
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What We Do

The Firefly Group helps people make sense of what they learn and experience.

Whether facilitating a group for better decision-making, keynoting a conference, leading a training, or writing an instructional design, we use novel methods that engage, spark creativity, and produce memorable results.

If this sounds like a good direction for your organization, let's talk about how we might collaborate! Please give me a call (802.257.7247) or send an . - Brian

Your ETR (Estimated Time to Read): 10 minutes
Your ETII (Estimated Time to Implement Ideas):
5 weeks

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Say It Quick!

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June 2016

Say It Quick
a thoughtful message in exactly 99 words

bits of serendipity to inspire and motivate
fuel for your own continuous learning
tips and tricks you can try today

The Accidental Leader

Man Bites Dog

Altered Order

In the News

Readers React
See how others reacted to Man Bites Dog below

Say It Quick

The order of words is important for meaning - but mixing things up is not always a bad thing. Learn more beginning with this story in just 99 words.

The Accidental Leader

Through the corridor, down the stairs, around the corner, and into the copy room, the whole way I was just a few paces behind Nancy. The coincidental similarity of our travels through the office caused her to tease, "Are you following me?"

"No," I quipped. "Are you leading me?" We laughed together but it made me think. If people have the same goal and objectives, there is really very little difference between leading and following. The distinctions, the status, the recognition, the responsibility blur as we all work together.

Our role doesn't depend on our "order."



Man Bites Dog
Hilarious Headline Card Game

Over one hundred word cards and you are dealt five. Can you arrange them into a humorous headline with a high point value? If you can, you are well on your way to winning this inventive game for 2 to 6 players.

Man Bites Dog from Universal Games Corporation is a creative game that exercises both your brain and funny bone. Each card has a word ripped from the headlines that has been assigned a point value. String them together and if other players agree that your headline makes grammatical sense, you keep your points. Win 500 points and win the game.

It's a simple concept that capitalizes upon the economy of attention-grabbing media tactics to make complex statements - and fun! Play it at work to ignite a creativity session or at home for amusement. Appropriate for ages 8 and up.


Man Bites Dog, © 2014 University Games Corporation, San Francisco, AreYouGame.com







Altered Order

What difference does the order of words make?

What does the order of words make different?

What order of words does the difference make?


What difference of the words does make order?

What difference does make order of the words?

OK, perhaps I didn't need to write the same eight words five ways to point out the obvious: order matters. It's common sense, right?

However, having written them it becomes obvious that the various sentence arrangements above suggest alternate tones of voice, emphasis, interest, and character. (Yoda of George Lucas' Star Wars comes to mind!)

In Spanish, adjectives follow the nouns they modify. In other languages, action words precede the doers of actions. These arrangements are subtle but send messages about what people value and how they view the world.

That's what I like about the card game in today's Discovery. There's nothing funny about "Dog Bites Man." But "Man Bites Dog" is provocative; raising questions, inviting an involved story. One challenge of the game is to make your headline even more humorous by experimenting with the word order.

Of course sequence is also important in many processes. But is sequence always sacred? What insights arise from flipping things around?

A relatively new concept in education is the flipped classroom, a "model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions." (Educause)

The goal of a flipped classroom is to improve learning by changing the order of the acquisition of information and the application and practice of skills. After all, information is now ubiquitous on the web. Need to know facts, procedures, theories? Don't ask an expert to tell you the information, look it up with a click! That makes the classroom more valuable as a laboratory for experimentation, practice, discussion, and collaboration.

This flip is also important for workplace learning. With the availability of e-Learning platforms, it's much easier to deliver consistent content information to any number of employees. That means face-to-face meetings and classes can focus on doing things that people do best when they are together: working in teams, negotiating, communicating, strategizing, playing with ideas, solving problems, collaborating, and developing and using emotional intelligence.

A flip of this nature can change the roles of instructors and students. Rather than undisputed experts, instructors become facilitators and co-learners. Rather than being a passive sponge of information, students become proactive, discoverers of learning. Flipping roles is also at the root of many progressive management strategies. It's important in healthy mentoring relationships when protégés contribute to the growth of their mentor, in the empowerment of workers when they have a voice in senior-level meetings, and in self-directed teams when they set their own goals.

Yes, order matters. But like the 99-Word Story, altering the sequence provides humor for new thinking and insights for new action.

More Information:

"The Flipped Classroom" by Knewton Infographics: (https://www.knewton.com/infographics/flipped-classroom/)
An infographic explaining the structure and benefits of a flipped classroom.

"7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms," PDF from Educause: (https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7081.pdf)
A concise description of the essential elements of a flipped classrooms.



In the News

Boiling an idea down to its pithy essence requires reflection. Flipping the word order of a short phrase can offer new insights. Add these two strategies and you can create metaphors that make learning more memorable.

That's the idea behind this month's activity. Try it with your team to summarize your next meeting then what happened!

In the News

Goal: To summarize a meeting or training by creating a humorous metaphor


Participants: Any number in groups of 3 to 5

Time: 30 minutes

Explain that you would like to spend some time summarizing the most significant points of the meeting you are concluding. Give teams about 5 minutes to make their own decision about the three most important outcomes, conclusions, or decisions of the meeting.

Deal seven word cards to each group. Inform them that they have 15 minutes to use any combination of their cards and the meeting word list to write a headline that can act as a metaphor for one of the important meeting outcomes they identified. Their headline must make sense grammatically.

After 15 minutes, give each team an opportunity to share their headline. Ask other teams to interpret the metaphorical meaning of the headline. When all groups have shared, choose from among the following questions to lead a deeper conversation.


Invite people to make a copy of their favorite headline of all the groups and encourage them to keep it as a reminder of the meeting.


Readers React
Bonjour, cher ami,

Word order indeed, and order word. "Ham feeds man" "Man feeds ham (before he goes on stage...). Order word: "Ham and eggs, please !"

A similar concept, and one often forgotten by the historically challenged, is chronological order. An example I used in my classes, oh, several hundred years ago seems like:

1) John met Mary

2) Mary was pregnant

3) John and Mary got married.

The order in which these three events happened completely changes their significance. Many sophisms, particularly in politics, are based on this kind of chronological disorder. Could be a variant of the game. Amitiés - Pierre



If you like what you have read in this issue, I would like to bring the same innovation, creativity, and playfulness to your next meeting or learning event.

Whether you need a keynote speaker, or help with strategic planning, performance improvement, or training facilitators and trainers in your organization, I look forward to your call (802.257.7247) or .

-- Brian

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