This workshop is designed for those who feel they are stuck in a rut of designing "death by powerpoint" or "video overload" learning experiences. This facilitated session will provide a simple mechanics, exercise basics and a significant amount of collaboration and feedback centered around designing interactive exercises. The highlight of this session is where teams will design a 5-minute exercise in an iterative fashion, gathering feedback from nearby teams. These techniques will provide useful for those who are put in the position of having a set amount of time to teach a group of participants what's really important about a topic.

Participants will have the chance to design a five-minute exercise around a Scrum-related topic, first designing a "value proposition" for the exercise, testing it out with another group, making improvements and adjustments, and another test with different groups giving feedback each iteration. The lessons and experiences from this session will have participants walk away with exposure to a number of exercise design topics, plus they will learn a thing or two from fellow attendees by experiencing other team's exercises.


Outline/Structure of the Workshop

This workshop teaches participants some helpful techniques and approaches to designing short, effective exercises by coming up with a value proposition for the exercise, some design and feedback activity, and finally some execution in a group setting. This is a new talk that I have been working on, extracted from a course that I had built in the past where groups would build a 5-minute activity at their station and then rotation to a number of other stations to learn (or re-learn) about a topic.

Session Outline:

Avoiding the "Wall of Text"

  • learners rarely want to listen to you read from slides
  • lots of text can become overwhelming
  • eventually you turn into Charlie Brown's teacher (insert trombone joke!)

An engaging alternative

  • learners will retain more by "doing"
  • having them interact with one another will be a more engaging experience
  • create short, interactive exercises for the individual, pair, group, or class

Example Exercise: Myth or Fact - 5 minutes

  • As a table, decide if statement is a Myth or Fact about scrum
  • Exercise review and discussion

Helpful Learning Principles

  • Movement over sitting
  • Talking over listening
  • Images over words
  • Writing over reading
  • Shorter over longer
  • Different over same

Exercise Setup

  • 45 minutes spread out over a number of activities
  • Design the exercise, gather feedback from one table
  • Test the exercise with another table
  • Improve the exercise
  • Test the improved exercise with yet another table

Exercise Mechanics Review

  • Myth or Fact – create a list of items, classify the items as a Myth or a Fact. Need an answer key for this!
  • Word Connect – Phrase is split into two boxes, and boxes on the left connect to the boxes on the right. Also need an answer key
  • Correcting Worksheet – Sentences have words removed and placed at the top, have to ‘fill in the blanks’. There is only one correct combination, so the sheet corrects itself
  • Grab the spoon – create true/false questions and as people answer, those that grab the spoon (or another object) lets them answer.
  • Which Bucket – list of items that can be in at least 3 different buckets (roles or events in scrum for example), great as a group exercise
  • Skit – helpful for facilitation techniques, create some “characters” for people to play as they act out a scenario

Exercise Phase 1 - Design it - 15 minutes

  • Select a topic that nearby teams did not (selected from handout)
  • Complete exercise worksheet
  • A pair of team members gather feedback from nearby table
  • Design first draft of exercise

Exercise Phase 2 - Test it - 10 minutes

  • A new pair of team members rotates to new table to do a number of things:
  • Introduce the exercise
  • Facilitate exercise in 5 minutes or less
  • Observe the exercise and gather feedback

Exercise Phase 3 - Improve it - 10 minutes

  • Pair returns to their table to do two things:
  • Share observations and feedback
  • As a table, improvements are identified
  • As a table, adjustments are made to the original exercise

Exercise Phase 4 - Test it again - 10 minutes

  • New pair of team members rotates to a new table to do a number of things:
  • Facilitate another run of the exercise
  • Observe exercise and gather feedback
  • Share findings with their own team on how it went


  • Pair Share - Approximately 5 minutes - pair up with a partner to share observations
  • Pop up - 30 seconds per idea - participants stand and share their observations in 30 seconds or less.

Wrap Up

  • Credits - Sharon Bowman (Training from the Back of the Room author))
  • Questions and Closing

Learning Outcome

  • Introduce participants to six simple learning principles
  • Introduce participants to six exercise mechanics and technique
  • Learn to design short, interactive exercises leveraging feedback from others

Target Audience

Agile Thought Leaders, Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, Instructors, Trainers, Facilitators


schedule Submitted 4 years ago