What is the MOST EXTREME class activity that you have facilitated?

Ward Mural Team mod
edited May 2021 in Mural University

Hi Fellow Teachers!

@Jeff_Eyet and I have been talking about extreme class activities that have been a part of - as either instructor or student. For example, I spent 48 hours at a Boston shelter as a staff aide to understand the complexities of food distribution to homeless communities. I'll never forget that experience.

🚨What is the most extreme class activity that you've led in your course? 👩‍🏫

Digital or analog? In the classroom or in the community? What worked well...or not so well...

Please share yours in the comments below!

(We will discuss these and others tomorrow at our weekly Teachers' Lounge webinar. Join us by signing up here: https://mural.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_GW7mY83pSR6Od-0FbuMoqg)



  • Jumping in as a recent graduate! On the first day of on of my favorite classes, Grand Challenges in Entrepreneurship, my professor Dr. Pahnke split us into groups, gave each group 5 dollars, and set us on a mission to create the most "value" as possible in 24 hours.

    The meaning of value was up to each group to determine.... My group used the $5 to buy a box of cookies and then sold them on campus as a donation to a good cause. We ended up getting $50 of donations which we then donated using Kiva, a micro-lending site, so the $50 would continuously bring value to entrepreneurs around the world.

    Other groups bought a houseless person a pizza, assisted in bringing people's groceries to their cars, etc... people got creative!

  • Sounds like an adaptation of Teena Seelig's (prof from Stanford) assignment. I do innovation challenges in my class where I give students a dollar and they have two weeks to make as much money as possible. One year one team made $1,500! Another variation was where I gave them $2 and a dollar three catalog and they had to buy two items and then use them to make as much money as possible. Regardless of the challenge, they donate whatever they make to a local nonprofit of their choice.

  • Ward
    Ward Mural Team mod

    @kjaskyte Thank you for sharing. What was the idea that made $1500 if I might ask?

    I am such an enormous fan of Prof. Seelig's work. She is sooooo good at come up with creative, challenging prompts. My personal favorite ("The Worst - I mean BEST - idea in the world.") transforms the biggest challenges into the biggest opportunities. https://medium.com/@tseelig/go-on-break-the-rules-1c141e0b8a7b I remember vividly my first experience - we ended up turning creating a "Popemobile" for President Tessier-Lavigne into an amazing feedback vehicle on improving campus life at Stanford.

  • The team approached a famous local artist Jamie Calkin asking if he would be willing to donate a painting that would be auctioned off at a local bar in Athens, GA. They then used the dollar to purchase raffle tickets at the dollar store:)

    I've been using her videos and Ted Talks in my innovation classes for years. Students love them.

  • Christina
    Christina ✭✭✭✭

    @Ward and @kjaskyte What a fantastic reading - as someone on the other side of the planet I was not familiar with Prof. Seelig, but I will be sharing this article with my class of often-change-shy business students on the double. This best-worst-idea challenge should be in every curriculum as prep for the VUCA world our students will be heading into post-corona.

  • @kjaskyte I think you are right! Now that you bring it up I think I think she shared with us that this was modeled after a challenge at Stanford. I think her take on the challenge was to make "value" vague so it didn't necessarily have to be the most amount of money. Both ways are very fun and a great exercise!!!

  • Finnalli
    Finnalli ✭
    edited June 2021

    Yikes. My most extreme.

    Many years ago I was teaching Fahrenheit 451 to 10th grade students in an incredibly diverse high school. I was also a member of our local volunteer fire department. If you don't know the book, it takes place in a dystopian future where the firemen (of course it's firemen...it couldn't be women) light fires instead of putting them out. What they set on fire are books, as they have been banned in this world (it would be a shame to have so many people going around and thinking for themselves).

    I organized an experience for my students: several of my friends from the fire department agreed to come into the class unannounced and to act like the firemen in the novel. They came in loudly and forcefully, with axes and full gear, rounded up the students, marched them outside, and burned a book as they shamed them for reading and for learning new things (don't worry! it was a department book which we identified for this purpose).

    In their journals about the experience afterward, the students remarked how terrifying it was that they couldn't see the firemen's faces, they couldn't understand why they were being rounded up and marched out. It was a terrifying experience for them on many levels, and (as you can imagine) it was very effective in helping them understand the context of the world Bradbury created.

    [my own personal most extreme was a 24 hour solo on an Outward Bound trip in the Costa Rican rain forest. We were allowed to write but not read, no electronics either, and we had to use everything we had learned on the trip to build our own shelter, find our own food, and be alone with ourselves. I will never forget it]

  • AmyS
    AmyS admin

    @Finnalli As a former high school teacher and librarian, I totally dig the 451 experiment. We are always talking about immersion of content. The same goes with @kjaskyte with giving students $1! Woot!🤗📚️