Top Quiet Debrief & Reflection Activities
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.
All for One and One for All
Equipment: A ball of string
Group size: 10 – 20
Description: Students begin this activity by forming a circle. A series of questions (see activity ‘Pass the Ball’ for examples) will be asked of them and when the first student answers, they will be passed the ball of string. The student will then hold the end of the string and toss the ball, leaving a trail of string behind the ball. As students continue to answer the questions, they also hold the string and toss the ball so a web of string is formed. The question can be changed after each student or multiple students can answer each question.
Once the web is complete, ask the students to pull the string tightly, then choose one section of the web and pluck it. Ask the students if they can feel the vibration. Explain that by using this example, it illustrates how we are all interconnected and our actions can affect many other people in a positive or negative way. Then ask a student to drop their part of the string; this illustrates that even if one student was not involved in the lesson, the result would have been different, and that each student’s contributions make a big difference.
Pick a Question
Equipment: Flip chart paper and markers
Group size: 15 – 50
Description: This activity is more formal and is suitable for older students. Its aim is to help teachers learn what the students thought were the most important parts and learning points of the lesson, while at the same time allowing the students to create the topics and discuss what they feel is important.
Explain to the students that they will be able to expand on what they learnt in the lesson and also ask questions of other students. When a student thinks of a question, ask them to write it on a piece of flip chart paper. Allow several students to do this, and post the papers around the room so everyone can see them. Ask the students to stand by the piece of paper that contains the question they would like to discuss further. The student who wrote that question will facilitate the discussion around their topic. After about 10 minutes, one of the students from each group reports their ideas back to the class.
Group size: 3 – 20
Description: This is a great activity for those who take a bit of time to open up and share their thoughts. It is a quick and easy way to get students to reflect on and evaluate their performance, thoughts or feelings during or after a lesson. It can be used in a variety of ways, from a quick check-in with students to a catalyst for more in-depth introspection.
As in the game ‘Paper, scissors, rock’, students on the count of three hold up any number of fingers from one to five or one to ten to evaluate how they performed in some aspect of the lesson. To facilitate the activity from this point, negative aspects of behaviour that led to the score could be addressed or positive solutions could be focused upon.
Equipment: Prepared pile of cards
Group size: 10 – 30
Description: Students begin this activity by sitting in a circle. One student reads the top card from the prepared pile. The cards have written on them a general behavioural statement describing someone in the group; these can address group issues, e.g. a student who should listen more, a student who is considerate, a student who offends, etc. The student who reads the first card looks around the group of students for one who fits the description the closest and gives the card to them. The student who receives the card reads it out and a discussion is then facilitated focusing on the issue and allowing students to offer solutions, conflict to be brought into the open, those with behavioural problems to see how they affect the others and positive reinforcement to be received.
Equipment: Packet of skittles
Group size: 3 – 20
Description: At the end of the day the teacher opens a packet of skittles and puts them in a bowl in the centre of the group of students. The students are asked to reflect on an aspect of their experience during the lesson and to pick a colour that would explain the emotions or thoughts that they were feeling at the time. Each student can then choose the corresponding colour skittle and a discussion can be facilitated involving why students chose the colour they did.