Words of Wisdom
Words of Wisdom is a group activity used to set intention before or reflect after an activity by building a statement collectively. This strategy honors individual ideas in order to create a cohesive whole. The “Yes” part of the activity allows participants to work together verbally and kinesthetically to acknowledge the idea/thought created by the entire group.
Participants stand in a circle. The group is given a prompt that sets a challenge for the day or reflects on what happened. For example: To end our work, we will offer a group Words of Wisdom that explains how we felt about the day. Each person will offer a word as we make up sentence together. Our goal is to build on the word and idea that is offered before. One person volunteers to begin. Each person offers one word each, to collectively build a short sentence or phrase. Today-was-fun-because-we-got-to-play-and-think-together. After the group feels a complete phrase/sentence been spoken, everyone energetically says “yes” and shimmies into the circle, then steps back into the circle for the next phrase to begin. The next person in the circle then says the first word of the next Words of Wisdom statement. The facilitator can do multiple statements, moving around the circle or through a row or group of seated participants. The tone and style of these short sayings, or words of wisdom, can vary. They can be inspirational, like Zen quotations, silly like fortune cookies, or can follow a more serious reflective approach.
Example statements created by participants to set goals for a science inquiry: I-wonder-what-we-will-find-in-our-experiment? YES! We-will-try-to-take-turns-talking-in-our-group. YES! We-will-be-awesome! YES!
Example statements during a literacy learning experience: I-wonder-what-will-happen-next-to-the character? YES! What-does-ameliorate-mean? YES!
Example statements after a mathematics learning experience: We-need-to-review-our-multiplication-facts. YES!
What types of wisdom did we offer to one another?
What skills do we need to be successful in this strategy?
- What ideas or action items for future work or next steps came out in phrases?
Try not to think about it too hard; just say the first word that comes to mind, that follows the sentence.
- Work together to feel when to say ‘yes.’
Small groups answer the statements, rotating through members to create answers.
- Pose an open-ended question related to a larger inquiry. For example: What does it mean to be free? or What might happen if we don’t conserve our resources?