Your ETR (Estimated Time to Read): 8 minutes
Your ETII (Estimated Time to Implement Ideas):
5 weeks

November 2008

In this Issue: An original 99 Word story by guest author Kevin Hall.

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
Choose Chaos Create Your Own "Pair of Dice" Snake Eyes: a learning review game Try Your Hand at Creative Chaos

Say It Quick

Choose Chaos

When my daughter was a young reader she asked, "Have you noticed how the word 'chaos' looks a lot like the word 'choice'?" Though you may not agree, the two actually have a strong relationship.

Scientists describe chaos as a state in which all potentialities are present within a given boundary. Anything is possible. Randomness rules. The outcome is unpredictable and uncertain - until a choice is made and one future path becomes more certain than the others.

When we are surrounded by chaos, we are also surrounded by maximum possibility, by choices. Get unstuck. Choose and move.



Create Your Own "Pair of Dice"

What better way is there to get unstuck than to let randomness rule with the roll of the dice? And these dice allow you to "set the boundary" of chaos because you can write your own rules directly on them!

Each die is nearly five inches across with a re-usable "white board" surface. Just scribble a few words or draw a sketch to represent the available options: choose teams, select the next category of a training topic for review, or determine prizes. Roll the dice and go with the flow!

Injecting a bit of randomness into your training or meeting opens the way for creativity. When forced to respond to the unexpected, we are propelled into more imaginative thought patterns. Our minds are stretched as we search for the best response among the chaotic options within the boundaries that have been defined for us.

Read the Ideas and Activities columns in this newsletter for specific ways to use randomness to increase learning, productivity, and creativity then click your way to Trainers Warehouse for your own set of Dry-Erase Cubes!



Snake Eyes:
             a learning review game

Snake Eyes is an activity that takes advantage of chaos to challenge participants' inventiveness. The goal is that participants will make new connections with the ideas learned and, in so doing, make them more memorable.

Two dice or Dry-Erase Cubes are used in the game. One cube has six statements about the training topic written one per side of the cube. The other cube has an operational statement such as "is the opposite of," or "should never be a part of," written on each cube face. When both cubes are thrown, players have to use the operational statement on the one die to change the training topic statement on the other die. The intention is to encourage creative thinking about the subject.

You can CLICK HERE to read and keep your own copy of Snake Eyes. In addition, Tamara Pinkas, the Cooperative Education Coordinator of Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon, has adapted Snake Eyes as a review for a course that she taught which covered a whole term! Here's how she did it.

I began by creating six groups and giving each group one of the topics covered during the term: 1) Workplace Discrimination 2) Workplace Harassment 3) Resumes 4) Interviewing 5) Cover Letters 6) Job Applications

Each group developed one sentence that was either a summary, a truism, or a sage piece of advice about their topic. This seemed to work really well and, upon completion of this part of the game, I wrote each sentence very large on a separate flip chart page which I taped across the front of the room.

A couple of examples are: "Discrimination hurts everyone," and "When interviewing, think before you speak."

The next part of the game turned out to be challenging for the students. Even though I gave everyone a handout with explanations and examples, the groups struggled to write the type of sentence they rolled. I'm not unhappy that they struggled; they were just vocal about being confused and having trouble. I think they actually did very well.

Some examples of what they come up with are: a) The roll was "never part of" and the topic was "discrimination." The students wrote: "Discrimination hurts everybody so it's a good strategy for advancing your career." That got a good laugh. b) The roll was "opposite" and the topic was "cover letters." The students wrote: "Never write a cover letter, it is a waste of time."

Amazingly, when given a choice of doing it again or doing some practice interviewing, the whole class embraced doing it again saying that they now understood the game. The best sentence was for "similar" and the topic was "Applications." The students wrote: "Your application should be neat and complete and sweet and would compete with the elite for the top seat where you meet and greet." There was instant recognition by the class for this as the most creative and humorous!

Thanks, Tamara, for sharing your experience with Snake Eyes!



Try Your Hand at Creative Chaos

I didn't realize that chaos could be an important element of creativity until I took an art class where the teacher used randomness to wonderful effect. On one Dry-Erase Cube she wrote different types of artistic materials like ink, pastels, magazine pictures, or cloth. On another cube, she wrote various elements of design such as line, texture, shape, or color.

When she rolled the cubes, we students were to use the artistic material on the one die to add the design element of the other die to our paper. We had to be incredibly imaginative and flexible to make a coherent work of art out of the resulting collage. This class later became the inspiration for my game of Snake Eyes!

There are many other ways to force ourselves out of a rut and into the field of creative chaos. As kids, we used to go for a walk and flip a coin at each corner to decide whether to go right or left. What if we apply the same tactics as adults? Here are a few thoughts:

Roll two dice, one to determine which item on your To Do List to complete, the other to decide how much time to spend doing that item. What happens when you spend 10 minutes on item B, 20 minutes on item G, and 30 minutes again on item B? Are you more creative, more stressed, or just having more fun?

Roll dice to decide who will do the chores at home this week, who will take the notes at the team meeting, or where to go Saturday night. Follow through on your chaotic decision with curiosity and playfulness and note the opportunities for inventiveness.

With one die, you can make a decision. With two dice, you can compare, contrast, or combine items and concepts. With three or more dice, you can have multiple "operands" and several elements to operate upon. What ideas does this inspire for making your work more innovative?

Take a chance with some of these ideas then what interesting choices turn up from the midst of your encounter with chaos!


Guest Author

At the North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA) conference last month, I led a workshop demonstrating a variety of ways to use 99 Word Stories for teaching. At the end of the workshop, participants were challenged to write their own stories. Kevin Hall of West Milford, New Jersey wrote this story in about 12 minutes.

It was my first year as a Boy Scout and I was so excited to put on my uniform and get ready to go door-to-door for our fall fundraiser! This year we were selling light bulbs!

My first box seemed nearly as big as I was. I wobbled up the walk at the very first home when the door opened and a large St. Bernard, every bit as enthusiastic as I was, bounded up the walk and onto me… spilling me and bursting nearly my entire load! The concerned owner offered to buy my entire box, hooray!

Even a day that's gone to the dogs can lighten your load!

Thanks, Kevin, for this wonderful contribution!


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