An effective group activity…

Kindly forgive the second post here today – after just opening this blog up again after a few years of writing.  The previous blogs (2014-2017) appear on the WordPress site   August 2014-June 2015 chronicled one year in the life of my Choral Program complete with attachments and worksheets.  I refer to it as “my book!”  Use what ye may!

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Photo by Pixabay on

Anyway, I am presently organizing the activities I will share with my advanced choir (A Cappella Choir Honors) at their retreat one week from tonight and I thought I would share a very effective group icebreaker activity I have used in the past for those of you looking to get to know your singers on a deeper level and to instill the concept of what YOU value right from the start.  I found it somewhere online and have adapted it to meet my group needs.


MATERIALS NEEDED – Post-its (5 per participant) and pen/pencil per person.  Screen/Projector to display powerpoint slides helpful but not necessary.  (I am always happy to share whatever resources I include in my blogs).  Just ask!

The activity works best in even numbers, as pairing is required. To begin, divide your group and create two concentric circles (one inner circle and one outer circle).  My group will divide into 2 circles to average 11 or 12 x 2 in each group.

Seated on the floor – the people in the outer circle should face inside, and the people in the inner circle should face outside. Each inner circle person will pair up with an outer circle person.

POST-IT NOTES: enough for each participant to have five each and pens.

Ask the participants to think about their values and what makes up their identity.  Show Powerpoint slides as examples of Values. (see slides below)  Instruct them to write one value on each post-it. They should write 5 values in total.

  1. Once everyone has written down their five values, have them share with their first partner why they chose to write down the five values they did.
  2. After sharing for 1-2 minutes, ask all participants to rip up one of their post-its!  This part of the activity gives participants an opportunity to reflect on how they prioritize their values. Ripping up the post-it should help the participant imagine living without that part of their identity.  You might tell them this as well.
  3. After the participants rip up one post-it, the outer circle will rotate one partner to the right. Everyone should have a new partner now. Have the new pairs discuss why they ripped up the post-it they ripped up.
  4. Continue this process until all participants are each left with one post-ittheir most important value!

This is a very easy, low-maintenance group activity that requires little preparation and can work for as small as 8 people to as large as 50 people. This activity is also good to help encourage people to share deeply with others with whom they would not otherwise share.

This was a surprisingly powerful activity, especially when I asked them to rip up a value the first time!!!  (gasp!)  Once we got to the last value, I asked them to stand and state their “most important” value and tell us why.  Very powerful.  Deep thoughts.  I am sure the powerpoint slides helped them to determine the values they chose.

Use it if you’d like.

Thanks, as always, for reading.


Another sunrise…


I began my teaching career at New Providence High School…1979.  I was responsible for the Ninth Grade Girls Chorus and Group Voice Classes.  It was a part-time position.  At the end of the year, I was RIF’ed (Reduction in Force) because there was no budget to retain the position.  Fortunately, my Supervisor knew of an opening in his hometown and called the Superintendent with a recommendation.  Hence, my career in Bernards Township began in 1980.  Forty years ago.

I am a Choral Director.  It’s the only thing I know.  Middle School, High School, International School and College.  Projects are my passion.  Planning and problem solving are my lifeline.  Mentoring and advising are part of the mix.  And lately, folks are asking me about retirement.  Retirement? Really? Other people retire.  Parents retire.  Why are you all asking me about retirement?

Forty years is more than half a lifetime.  “You can do anything in retirement,” they say.    “When the time comes, you’ll know, ” they say.  “Don’t retire, rewire,” they say.  Really? Me?

No one ever told me or suggested I think past my career.  Plan ahead.  Prepare for the “third” chapter. It’s a lecture I’d like to share with every college grad although they probably wouldn’t listen.  I’m certain it would have been lost on me if I had heard it in my 20’s.  But here I am,  faced with the reality of retiring someday.  It’s just surreal.

I can’t imagine not going to Ridge every day.  The “R” word is just not a part of my vocabulary.

So, on Tuesday I will begin another year with two days of Inservice.  The students come on Thursday.  We’ll review the rules, start voice testing, number and distribute music, meet with our new accompanist, campaign and elect new officers.  The A Cappella Choir will have its get-to-know-you retreat and the administration will share their new initiatives.  Away we’ll go.

The start of another year.

Another sunrise…

Hope we all have a good one.

Thanks, as always for reading.