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. The following are my three favourite debriefs using an object. The three of them are great as they can be used with small groups or the full class. Hopefully they will come in handy after a lesson when you are reflecting on the learning that has taken place.

Show and Tell

Equipment: None – students supply from home

Group size: 3 – 20

Description: This activity is best suited for reflection several days after the lesson. Each student is asked to bring an object from home that represents the lesson, such as something that reflects what the group accomplished or how the lesson affected them personally.

The students form a circle with each student showing their object and explaining why they feel it represents their lesson. When every student has had a turn to speak, follow up with a reflection discussion to summarise the students’ comments or introduce ideas that may have not been shared. This might be better suited to older students as it is most effective when students put a lot of thought into the items they bring in to share.


Nature Nature

Equipment: None

Group size: 10 – 30

Description: If possible, send students into bush or parkland and ask them to search for an object that reflects the most important thing they learnt during the day. After a set time has concluded, pair up students to share stories. After this time, bring the students back together, with each student in the group getting an opportunity to share their partner’s story with the whole group.

The aim of speaking through an object and a partner is to take the focus off the spoken word and direct it to the object, making it easier for introverted students to communicate. An example of an object may be a closed flower bud, if the student feels closed up and never opening up to what life has to offer, or a bud that had opened up and flowered, if the student feels bright and happy.


Object Object

Equipment: A collection of students’ possessions

Group size: 3 – 20

Description: An alternative to the above activity if students are confined indoors is to have them make a pile of ‘junk’ from anything they own or can find (e.g. watches, jewellery, water bottles, books, pens, food). Sit the students around the junk in a circle and then ask a question for them to reflect upon. In answering the question, students are encouraged to choose an object from the pile that would metaphorically describe their thoughts and feelings.

pile of junk