Top Creative Debrief 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.
Equipment: A chunk of sculpting material for each student
Group size: 3 – 10
Description: In this activity, the students take time to quietly reflect about the lesson that has just taken place and sculpt their feelings and thoughts with the sculpting material. The students should be asked to sculpt a form that represents the lesson – what they accomplished during it or what effect their participation had on them. There is then the opportunity for each student to share their sculpture and reflections with other students, and a discussion can be facilitated around the students’ comments and the reflection questions.
The following prompting questions, or similar, can be used to guide the students’ thoughts: “What did you as part of the group accomplish during this lesson?”
“What did you learn during the lesson?”
“What effect did your participation in this lesson have on you?”
Equipment: Sheets of large blank paper and markers
Group size: 3 – 15
Description: In this activity, students use pictures and words to reflect on the lesson. Attach the large pieces of paper to the walls or tables and hand out the markers. Ask the students to reflect on their experiences during the lesson. Examples of questions to prompt them are as follows:
“What did the group accomplish during the lesson?”
“What did you learn during the lesson?”
“What effect did your participation in the lesson have on you?”
Explain to the students that they should now draw pictures or write words on the paper to represent the lesson, either what they accomplished or how the lesson affected them personally. When the students have finished, place the papers where everyone can see them. Ask them to describe what they see on the papers and if they can answer any of the reflection questions by looking at the ‘graffiti’.
Equipment: A piece of paper and a pen
Group size: 5 – 15
Description: This quiet reflection activity involves creating a group poem about the lesson that has just taken place. Gather the students in a group and circulate the paper after an appropriate title concerning the lesson has been written across the top. Ask one student to write an opening line to the poem and encourage each student to write a line in response to the previous until all students have had an opportunity to add to the poem. When the poem is completed, ask one student to read it to the group and then discuss it. This activity is effective combined with another reflection idea such as ‘Sculpting your Thoughts’ to provide students with a focus while others are writing their line of the poem.
Equipment: Pen and paper
Group size: N/A
Description: This activity promotes reflection by having the students write a letter to themselves about what they have learnt during the lessons. The letters are collected by the teacher and then returned to the students six months later, when they are able to reflect on their initial thoughts and the relevance of their lessons.
Providing a selection of themes or questions for the students to focus on can improve the quality of the letter writing. This can include an evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses in areas such as academic, social or physical areas of their lives. They can then plan strategies to maintain their strengths and improve any weaker areas.
Equipment: Journal and pen
Group size: 3 – 20
Description: This activity involves the students finding a quiet spot to reflect on the events in a lesson. Encourage the students to find their own space to answer several questions in their journal that would help draw out the learning that occurred during the lesson. As a stimulus for reflection, try a quote or motivational picture.
Equipment: Blank puzzle pieces
Group size: 10 – 20
Description: Anchor pieces are small mementos from a lesson that students take home with them, anchoring the learning and experiences they had back to the lesson. An example is as follows:
Community puzzle: Puzzles can be incorporated into reflective learning in a number of ways. They create a unique atmosphere in which each student can contribute an equal piece and can act as a metaphor for students’ roles in activities. Puzzles can demonstrate the experiences and goals of the group of students piece by piece. One way to use the community puzzle is to have each student decorate a puzzle piece in their own style, to represent a ‘piece’ of learning that they will take away from the lesson or how they are an important ‘piece’ of the team.
Group size: 3 – 50
Description: In this activity, students work in small groups to create a rap or rhyme about the lesson they completed. Divide students into groups of three or four and give them 10 minutes to write a rap or rhyme about their experience. All members of the group must be incorporated into the production.
After each presentation, facilitate a group discussion with all the students, including reflection questions and an opportunity for the students to share reactions to the presented rap or rhyme. They can give positive feedback to the presenting group and suggestions for effective future projects.