Video Scenarios Lesson Plan
The video creation activity puts participants into groups where they will storyboard, write, direct, and act in a series of videos that illustrate how to use assertive communication to solve conflicts both in and outside of the workplace. By allowing participants to fabricate a workplace conflict, and subsequently work together to come up with a solution for that conflict, participants will utilize several new skills: collaboration and team building, conflict resolution, and critical thinking, to name a few. Skills that are highly integral to the workplace setting. The activity will also use the art of performance to practice assertive communication in a safe environment through the use of facial expression, body language, word choice, and tone of voice through “acting out” these workplace scenarios. The acting portion of this activity is where participants will practice using the various communication styles and, following the completion of their videos, see themselves solving conflict in various ways on camera. Acting in front of others is a unique challenge that can teach us a lot about ourselves, how we communicate, and is ultimately a very fun form of self-expression that can expand and develop our verbal and non-verbal communication skills. This activity helps participants understand workplace conflict from all points of view and how to assertively resolve it through safe and empathetic means. Writing, performing, and shooting the videos is an art that translates to employment by enforcing the idea that assertive communication is a honed skill.
1. Participants will develop an understanding of all styles of communication both theoretically and practically by discussing workplace conflicts, acting them out, and working through them as a group.
2. Participants will be able to apply this knowledge into real world scenarios, focusing on how and when to use assertive communication to not only solve conflicts when they arise, but to assertively advocate for themselves and their peers even in the absence of conflict.
3. Participants will have the opportunity to self-reflect on the way they themselves communicate with others and to learn that the communication styles we use don’t define our personalities - we can develop new, and more successful, communication patterns.
1. Participants will collaborate in groups to problem solve, explore real life scenarios, offer their own solutions, and ultimately create a 2-3 minute video almost entirely on their own. They will be emboldened to use their own skills and life experience in this artistic practice and discover new ways to express themselves.
2. Participants will brainstorm, write, story-board, perform, and shoot on camera one (1) dramatized scenario wherein a non-ideal communication style (passive, passive-aggressive, aggressive) is demonstrated and used to respond to the conflict, followed by a demonstration of the ideal communication style (assertive) in order to compare traits and outcomes of using each style of communication in the face of conflict. In essence, the film will show the conflict with one of the three non-ideal styles, it will rewind, and then show the same conflict but with assertive communication being used instead.
3. Upon viewing each group’s video as a class, participants will dissect one another’s videos in a casual conversation format. This is to discuss the conflicts chosen, their resolutions, and use of communication style, and what could have been done differently in a real life workplace setting.
Class 1: introductions and check-in, class norms, course outline & Communication Styles video or presentation
Class 2: check-in, completion and review of assertive communication
Class 3: check-in, Video Scenarios video, introduction to storyboarding with storyboarding presentation, begin storyboarding and script. Use the Brainstorm sheet, Shots and Angles worksheet and Storyboarding sheet to help participants get started.
Class 4: check-in, finish story-boards and script, begin filming
Class 5: check-in, filming and editing
Class 6: check-in, showing of videos, final review of concepts, debrief
*Not all of SHIFT’s programming occurs in 6 week periods. We will stretch and/or compress the work based on the needs of the program.
Daily Class Activities
At the start of every class, the daily check-ins are integral to the SHIFT team-building process. It allows for facilitators and participants to get to know each other and creates an open and friendly environment for collaboration– which is what arts-based education thrives on. It allows for the facilitator to check in with participants to get a better sense of where everyone is at emotionally and how everyone may be feeling. It also allows the facilitator the opportunity to adjust their materials or approach as needed.
Additionally, the check-ins are meant to empower participants to use their voices to express themselves. In our experience, many participants appreciate a process that gives them the floor, an opportunity to share whatever may be on their minds free of judgment. Participants learn that their words, opinions, and voices have weight - something that is integral to their ability to work in groups, advocate for themselves, and ultimately become better friends, partners, and colleagues. Empathy is the most important skill the facilitator should exercise here.
Check-in questions can vary based on what the facilitator prefers. Some have used the “number scale” to break the ice by asking, “On a scale of 1-10 how are you feeling today (with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best)?” Facilitators will give participants the opportunity to elaborate on their ratings, to express why and/or how they are coming in to class that day.
“Getting-to-know-you” questions can also be a fun and insightful approach. Some examples include:
* Are you a sweet or savory breakfast kind of person?
* What’s a gift you’ve either given or received that means a great deal to you?
* How was your weekend?
* Is there anything on your mind you want to get off your chest?
* Are you excited about anything coming up in your life? (movies, video-games, get togethers)
The check-in questions can be based on the comfort level of the group and each participant always has the option to decline to answer any question they’re not up for. In that scenario, it’s still recommended to get their “1-10 scale” rating or any kind of perception check in order to see how they’re feeling that day.
It is recommended that facilitators establish group norms on the first session of the course that will help guide the work going forward. Group norms are rules that the class will decide on together as a unit. Things like treating one another with respect, giving everyone the space to express themselves free of judgment, listening to one another and not interrupting, to name a few. This is an opportunity for participants to claim some agency over how the classes will function, as well as gaining a better understanding of where their peers are at.
Group norms can be tailored and introduced based on the group and the values of the facilitators. For example, SHIFT instills the group norm of sharing one’s pronouns by introducing ourselves with them, “Hi, my name is Justine and I go by she/they.” This can help everyone in the room feel comfortable sharing about themselves and their ideas. Other group norms have included using “safe words” in the event that the material becomes challenging or too personal, such as “banana,” or “pineapple.” This gives participants the opportunity to let the facilitators know that they need a short break from the material and that they’re allowed to do so. It’s also not a bad idea to help identify the best time for breaks.
The presentations are conducted using either the Communication Styles video or a Powerpoint presentation. We will explore the main styles of communication one at a time by discussing their characteristics, how they’re used verbally and non-verbally, and most importantly, the impact using these styles can have on ourselves, our peers, and our lives in general. Presenting the information requires filling in the blanks and using anecdotes or personal stories and other clarifying additions in order to provide context to whatever content is being presented. Providing personal examples of real-life or workplace scenarios in order to illustrate a communication style is integral to the participant’s understanding and relies on the facilitators’ admission that everyone, no matter their skill or life experience, can improve the way they communicate. We are not defined by how we communicate and everyone uses all different styles at different times. It helps identify key indicators as well as open up the conversation in discussing how communication in the workplace is nuanced and each person’s experience in life and the workplace varies. For example, the facilitator could tell a story from their own workplace experience that exemplifies the communication style being discussed in the presentation, and the participants should be encouraged to also share their own workplace/school/life experiences. For example, if a participant were to say, “I had a coworker who was such a jerk,” you can ask them what made them a jerk and relate it back to the content in the powerpoint about aggressive communicators.
Participants may sometimes express interpersonal issues they’ve experienced or are currently facing. Being able to engage with those conversations is crucial to supporting a participant’s learning – with the understanding that facilitators are not therapists or counsellors. It is less about offering advice and solutions and more about providing the space for the participants to express themselves and relating everything back to the material.
Other course material will be a short presentation on storyboarding for their films. We will teach the class about camera angles and how to use these to add to the storytelling elements of their films. The storyboards will be made on a sheet of paper with a series of squares representing the camera angle for that particular shot. Participants will learn what to include in each “panel” - a drawing of their shot, a description of what happens in that scene, as well as including any camera movements they’d like to use for that shot. The storyboards will be their guidelines when it comes to actually shooting, but the participants will in no way be expected to adhere to the storyboards once they begin shooting.
At the end of every class, similar to how we check-in, we also debrief and check-out with participants. When debriefing it is important to preface with the idea that there is no wrong answer. The SHIFT program will often end the class time with the question, “Which communication styles did we use today, and what did we maybe not use?”
Another way of approaching the debrief is to ask the participants to observe the communication styles in their own life and time outside of class. Remind them that they are all things to be practiced, honed, and noticed. The debrief doesn’t have to be 100% related to the class activities but could also be something fun or apply to whatever is coming next in their day.
We will also ask them to generally respond to the activity and to ask them to engage with how they felt about the work, what felt good, weird, silly, etc., if they enjoyed it, would try something similar in the future, or even if they hated every minute of it.
It is also worth asking if the participants’ moods have changed or shifted since the check-in. If the number scale was used, a facilitator may ask what number they sit at as they exit the class. If there was a change, inquire as to what caused the change. What made them feel better? What made them feel worse? Why do they think that is?
To begin, participants will be placed into three groups. Each group will be assigned one of the three “non-ideal” communication styles: Passive, Aggressive, and Passive-aggressive (we use the term non-ideal because while our focus is on Assertive communication, we must understand that the other styles may still be used depending on the circumstance and the challenges a conflict may create). The groups will then brainstorm a workplace or real-life conflict between two or more people, and will consider how someone using their assigned communication style would unsuccessfully attempt to solve the conflict. For example, how might an aggressive communicator respond to being reprimanded by their boss. Once they’ve solidified this interaction, they will then brainstorm how this same conflict may play out if the “protagonist” used assertive communication instead of their assigned style. Participants can use this brainstorming sheet to help them get started.
With their brainstorming complete, participants will begin to simultaneously write out their scripts and storyboard for their films keeping in mind the locations they’d like to use for their films (this will be reliant on the flexibility of the employment group and where participants will be allowed to shoot). Additionally, they will assign themselves roles to play in the actual film. They will be given at least one whole class to complete this portion (with some additional time should they not be fully completed by the end of class). Our hope is for participants to feel excited about this creation process and to take the time they need to develop a product they will be proud to present. You can show participants the Storyboard/Angles PowerPoint to give them a basic explanation about storyboarding. Participants can also use this Storyboarding sheet to help plan out their video.
Now that all of the preliminary work has been done, it is time to actually begin shooting. The groups will break off, cameras in hand, and spend the day shooting their videos. Oftentimes, a facilitator will accompany them to assist where needed - this has historically included holding the camera for them or even filling in a role on camera if the need were to arise. The Shots and Angles worksheet can help give participants more ideas about different shots they can use in their video.
Once filming is complete, only if there is time, participants can sit down with their footage and facilitators can give them some tips and pointers on how to edit. Using simple editing software, participants can go through their footage, pick out the best takes, and begin editing their films. (In our experience, certain groups will finish early while others will need more time to finish shooting - the editing portion is entirely secondary and is simply a matter of them learning a new skill if they are interested.)
Camera, clapboard (optional), pen, paper
YouTube examples: Participants watch an example workplace conflict scenario from the youtube playlist here:
They are then asked to identify the type of conflict and the points of view of each “character” as well as discuss what they noticed and can refer back to the material covered in any SHIFT module.
This is a very basic video on camera angles. This video does not have to be the one used as there are many other excellent examples on YouTube that teach camera angles.
Sample Lesson Plan Model
The following lesson plans are based on a 2 hour x 6 sessions workshop model. The timelines are only suggestions - pace yourself with the group’s needs and make adjustments where necessary.
During this class you will check in with the participants, introduce yourselves, outline the course content, and deliver course presentations. Based on the duration of the class, create a timeline that suits the needs of the group.
During this class you will check in with the participants, revisit the information presented in the first class, put participants into groups to begin the project.
Participants are to come up with & brainstorm their ideas for different workplace scenarios that they can portray/film
During this class you will check in with students, introduce storyboarding and camera angles, and the participants will begin storyboarding their films.
Participants are also shown camera angles to help them gather ideas to create their own original film
During this class you will check in with students, instruct them on how to use cameras and clapboards for shooting, and will begin shooting their films.
Markers - Optional
Participants start filming their workplace scenario
Brainstorming and Storyboarding Sheet
During this class you will check in with students, and then will give them the rest of the class to work on and complete their films.
Brainstorming and Storyboarding Sheet
During this class we will check in with students and then screen the final projects. This will be followed by a casual discussion about the films, the communication styles, and the choices made. Have fun with this!
Celebrate all efforts, creativity, participation and focus on growth!