Debriefing and reflecting on an experience is an opportunity to identify what students have learned about themselves and others. The technique of debriefing is extremely beneficial for students following the completion of a lesson. A structured reflection helps students to:

• Think about what they accomplished and learned during a lesson

• Consider ways that the experience could be adjusted to improve the outcome

• Develop ideas of how they could use this experience in other aspects of their lives

• Share their ideas and feelings with other students

• Communicate the value of their participation with themselves and other students.

As a teacher, your aim is to lead a thought-provoking and safe discussion by asking meaningful questions in a pre-planned sequence. There are endless possibilities for incorporating reflection activities into students’ experiences. The following activities are designed to provide quick; fun and effective debrief ideas for students and teachers.

Learning Lines

Equipment: A rope or something similar to make a ‘line’ on the ground

Group size: Five or more

Description: In this activity, students place themselves on the ‘line’ according to how much they agree or disagree with a statement relating to the lesson that has just taken place. One end of the ‘line’ can represent ‘strongly agree’, the other end ‘strongly disagree’, while the middle can be ‘neutral’.

Some example statements that can be used for most lessons are as follows:

“I enjoyed participating in this learning experience.”

“I learnt a lot from participating in this learning experience.”

“I would participate in this learning experience again.”

“I have an idea for a different learning experience that our class could participate in.”

“Because of this learning experience, I will go home and participate in more activities.”

To build on this activity, students can be asked to explain why they chose to stand where they did on the line. Alternatively, students can discuss with each other why they chose their position on the line. It is important to emphasise that there are no right or wrong responses to each statement or positions to stand on the line.

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Chuck the Object

Equipment: Any soft object that can be tossed comfortably between students

Group size: 5 – 15

Description: Students start this activity by sitting in a circle. Begin a discussion about the lesson that has just taken place and explain that whoever is holding the soft object is the student that can talk. Students are often more willing to participate in discussions if they are able to hold the object, preferably a ‘cool’ one, such as a funky, squishy animal.

Once the discussion has commenced and a question has been asked, a student can raise their hand to answer and the object is passed to them. When that student has finished talking they can pass the object to another student that has indicated they would like to answer the same question. When it is time for a new question, ask that the object be tossed back to the teacher. After the questions have been answered, take the time to summarise or expand on what the students said.

Some example questions that can be used for most lessons are as follows:

“What did you like best about this lesson?”

“What did you like least about this lesson?”

“What did you learn from this lesson?”

“In a couple of words, how would you describe how you feel about this lesson?”

“What are some other activities you would like to incorporate in lessons?”

“Why was it important that everyone worked together to complete the activity in this lesson?”

“Would you like to participate in the activities we completed in this lesson again? Why or why not?”

“How could we improve upon this lesson?”

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Beach Babes

Equipment: An inflatable beach ball. Use a marker to divide the ball into 10 – 20 sections. In each section write a reflection question from the samples in the previous activity.

Group size: 10 – 40

Description: Students begin activity by standing in a circle. The beach ball is ‘bumped’ around the circle and the student who has the ball on the third ‘bump’ reads the question that their right thumb is on. After the student answers the question (or they can ‘phone a friend’ and ask another student to answer it), the ball is passed around the circle until all students who want to have had the opportunity to answer at least one question.

An alternative is to give all students an opportunity to answer the question when it is read out. To help the students with their reflection, expand or summarise answers.

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Charade Circle

Equipment: None

Group size: 5 – 15

Description: Students begin this activity by forming a circle. Each student has a turn to act out their answers to the following reflection questions regarding the lesson just completed:

“What did you like best about this lesson?”

“What did you like least about this lesson?”

“What did you learn by participating in this lesson?”

“What is one word you can use to describe how you feel about this lesson?”

“What are some other lessons that you would like to participate in?”

“What, if anything, will you do differently at home because of the experiences you had while participating in this lesson?”

“If we did this lesson again, what could we do to make it better?”

These questions will help the students reflect on the good work accomplished. Ensure the students know not to share their answers with anyone. This game can be played in two ways: either give each student a turn to act their answer for each reflection question posed, or ask for one to two students to act their answer for each question, making sure to rotate students so everyone has a turn.

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Snap Chat Photo

Equipment: None

Group size: 3 – 50

Description: This short activity can prelude a formal reflection discussion, being effective in helping students begin to reflect on what was accomplished during the lesson. Ask the students to think about the lesson that has just taken place and explain to them that they are going to create a living ‘snapshot’ of the lesson.

Ask for one student to start the photo by posing in such a way that illustrates their involvement in the lesson. Then ask another to join in to help build the living snapshot and continue until every student is in the photo. Once all students are in place, use a camera to take a group photo. This activity can be followed by another activity such as ‘Pass the Ball’, ‘Beach Ball Reflection’ or ‘We’re All Connected’.

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Hollywood Acting

Equipment: None

Group size: 8 – 50

Description: This reflection activity is great if you have a longer amount of time (30 minutes to one hour). Divide the students into groups of three or four and ask each group to reflect on the lesson just completed. Their aim is to portray their lesson through a skit. Each group gets 10 minutes to plan their skit and up to five minutes to share it with the rest of the class.

After each skit, facilitate a group discussion with all the students, including reflection questions and an opportunity for the students to share their reactions to the skits, give positive feedback to the participants and give suggestions for future lessons.

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Mr or Mrs Machine

Equipment: None

Group size: 5 – 15

Description: This fun activity helps students make a metaphorical connection between their lesson experience and a machine and also practise their drama skills. Students begin by sitting in a circle. Explain to the students that you want them to think of themselves as a type of machine (e.g. a car) with regards to the lesson that is being debriefed. The students are to think about this machine and choose one part of the machine that they feel is similar to their role in the lesson (e.g. flat tyre, engine, horn).

When the students have finished choosing, ask for one to explain what machine they chose and which part, and why they chose it. Then have that student move to the centre of the circle and act out the machine part they chose. The student remains there and the rest of the students follow suit and add onto the machine. At the end of the activity, ask the whole group to act out the machine they created.

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Jump Left, Jump Right

Equipment: None

Group size: 10 – 30

Description: This activity can be described as debriefing in motion, for those students who prefer to move during a debriefing session. Providing some kinaesthetic movement during a session helps to maintain the energy of the students and keep them engaged.

Students begin the activity by forming a circle. The teacher offers the students to have their say, relating to a particular question, a previous activity or any viewpoint that a student wants to share. As the activity begins, the students shuffle to the left. The teacher at some point says, “Stop!” and provides a comment to the group. The students then shuffle right until someone else says, “Stop!” and has their say.

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