Communication skills help build and maintain healthy relationships. For this activity, we take a classic activity, Xerox (also known as back to back), and make it accessible remotely. Challenge a partner across the room or across the world to recreate an image you have drawn based entirely on your oral or written description.
Plan: What do you think you might need to do to communicate clearly and effectively with a partner? How might the role of the speaker differ from the role of the listener? How might asking questions change the effectiveness of your communication?
Step 1: On a standard piece of paper, draw an image.
Step 2: Connect with a family member, classmate, or colleague and describe your image using only words. Don’t show it to them.
Step 3: Have your partner recreate the image based on your description.
Step 4: Compare the original to the copy.
Reflect: Compare the images. Are they the same size? Shape? Color? What differences do you notice? What similarities? If you were to repeat the task again, what would you do differently? Why?
Apply: How did your communication during the activity affect the outcome? What did you learn about helping someone else recreate your vision? How does communicating with others help us see different perspectives? With most of us working and learning at home today, what might you need to do differently to be an effective communicator with those near and far?
Challenge the participants to draw original images with particular characteristics that you have been using in your content area (right angles, specific shapes, landmarks) or provide participants with the original image. Imagine if they all started by describing the same one to their partner and you create a collage of all the copies! (Of course, you would need to keep that fact a secret until they were shared)
Hoping to increase the number of questions participants ask? Try suggesting two different rounds. During the first round, do not allow the partner to ask questions. During the second round, encourage questions for clarification. Or repeat the task with a different partner and try what you would do differently from above with the second partner.
Hoping to encourage more oral and less written communication between participants? Try the activity once via text or email and a second time over the phone or video chat. Compare the results.
Send us some photos of your Xerox experiments and we’ll add them to this post!