Digital Contract

Type of Activity: Frontloader/Processing

Props Needed: None

Set Up: No special space requirements. You can present this one to any number of people – takes 15 to 25 minutes.

Process: Traditionally we tend to ask our groups to follow some very important guidelines/expectations as they play and learn together. If anyone is then unable to follow these guidelines we will stop the   action and explore the factors that are preventing us from doing so. The Digital Contract is a tool we have been able to use to weave our program expectations into an auditory as well as a visual presentation. The visual, using the fingers of the hand, can then be used throughout the program as a reminder.

Introduce the concept by holding up one hand and spreading out your fingers (we’re going to include the thumb as a finger here for those of you who consider the thumb a thumb and not a finger!?) Take one finger at a time and give the group something to remember with each finger:

The Little Finger – This finger is the smallest on our hand, it can easily be hurt. We want to avoid, “hurt” as much as possible. You might have to spell out what you expect or ideally ask the group what they expect. You could help by asking, “What kinds of hurt are there (physical and mental)? What can we do to avoid being hurt? What can we do to be safe?”

The Ring Finger – This finger stands for commitment. What is commitment? (You might need to help define this for some groups.) We are going to ask you to commit yourself to participating with the group in some way. Participation takes on many forms. (You can tie this into your choice of methodology if you want to use those words.)  The least we will ask you to do is stay with the group (for safety and responsibility reasons), give your best effort whenever you can, and help the group members whenever possible. Together we can accomplish a lot.

The Middle Finger – (Avoid slinging out this finger during your explanation. Keep all your fingers up in the air as you work through them. Just a suggestion.) What is this finger often used for? (Most children know way to early what this is for, however, some don’t. You will need to decide if this is something you want to teach or just move with the concept.) We are going to ask you not to use “put- downs” during our time together. We also ask that you respect (another concept you might explore together) yourself and others. What is important about respect? Why do we want to avoid put-downs? What will be a better way to communicate?

The Index Finger or Pointer Finger – This finger will remind us of our “Response-Ability” within the group. We want to encourage you to use your ability to respond by giving feedback to others and reflecting on the experience for yourself and how the experience will be able to benefit you and the group in the future. You are the only one who will know how you feel. If you are willing to share your experiences, good and bad, we can become a little closer together and understand what each of our needs will be. Why is it important to get to know each other better?

The Thumb – This finger is for the “thumbs-up” encouragement we would like you to share with the group. What is important about encouragement? How can it benefit our group? What are some examples of encouragement? When can we use it?

Using these visual cues throughout a program can help remind your participants of the expectations you have.  You and the group can define each finger to fit your specific needs, but don't get too wordy or your participants might easily forget what you expect of them.

As you set up this process have participants take their reminders (their hand) and turn to shake the hands of those around them to “seal” their contract with one another.

For original write up purchase "The Empty Bag" by Cavert and Hammond, pg.  11-13.

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