Facilitating Discussions and Debriefs
SHAPE America Appropriate Practices
- 2.6.3 The teacher emphasizes critical-thinking and problem-solving tactics and strategies by using higher-order questions (e.g., those that deal with similarities, differences, efficiency and effectiveness).
TECHNIQUES TO GUIDE DISCUSSIONS
- 3 Most Common Misunderstandings: List the three most common misunderstandings of a given topic based on an audience of your peers.
- 3 Questions: Ask three questions about the topic, then rank them in terms of their importance/value.
- 5 Whys: After a response is given, ask the student(s) "why?" Repeat the process with subsequent answers, up to 5 times.
- Agreement/Disagreement: When a student answers a question posed to the class, ask the remaining students "Who agrees (or disagrees) with that answer." When students raise their hand in agreement (or disagreement), ask one of them "Why do you agree (or disagree)...?"
- Beach Ball: Write questions on a beach ball. Throw the ball to whoever wants it. The person who catches the ball answers whichever question is closest to them.
- Chat Stations: Stations with discussion prompts that students visit in small groups.
- Concentric Circle: Half the students form an inner circle and the other half forms the outer circle (students face each other). After each prompt and discussion is finished, have the outside circle rotate so they have a new partner.
- Corners: Each classroom corner represents a different answer or opinions for each question. When the teacher asks a question, each student goes to the corner that best represents his or her answer. Based on classroom discussion, students can move from corner to corner to adjust their answer or opinion.
- Dos and Don’ts: List 3 "Dos" and 3 "Don’ts" when using, applying, or relating to the content.
- Exit Slip: Question they must answer to leave class.
- Jigsaw: Each student from each group picks the question from a list that they want to answer; they find other students that picked the same question, discuss, and come to consensus; and then bring the answer back to the original group to share.
- Think-Pair-Share: Students think about the question, share their response with another student, and then possibly share with the class (alternatives to think-pair-share).
- Walk and Talk: Pair or group up students and have them go on a walk while they discuss the provided questions.
- Yes/No Chart: Students list what they do and don’t understand about a given topic.
STRATEGIES FOR INCREASING STUDENT PARTICIPATION
STRATEGIES FOR ACTIVE LISTENING
It is important that students feel heard from their peers and teachers. Use the following guidelines to improve active listening skills (Test Your Active Listening Skills).
- Pay Attention: Look at the speaker directly; Listen to the message without forming a rebuttal; Avoid environmental distractions; “Listen” to the speaker’s body language.
- Show that you are Listening: Give non-verbal messages that your are listening; Ensure your posture is open and inviting; Encourage the speaker to continue using small verbal comments.
- Provide Feedback: Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing; Ask questions to clarify certain points; Periodically summarize the speaker’s comments.
- Defer Judgment & Respond Appropriately: Allow the speaker to finish; Don’t interrupt with counterarguments; Be honest and respectful in your response.
CONSIDERATIONS WHEN CHOOSING QUESTIONS
Sandringham Questioning Wheel
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ON EFFECTIVE QUESTIONING
Debriefing is an important part of a lesson and team building activities that allows students to process and reflect on their experience. The learning that occurs in activities have "real world" applications and a quality debrief is one way to make that connection. The debrief should be facilitated by the instructor, with students taking control of their learning and leading the discussions. The strategies listed on this page are also useful in regular discussions and lesson closures.
Students describe the events that transpired during the activity.
Students explain what they feel they learned from the experience.
Students explain how they can apply what they learned from the activity in different situations.
- Planning: What was the most important feature in planning?
- Communication: How did you know that what you communicated was understood by the group?
- Leading and Following: Who assumed leadership roles during the activity? What did they do that caused you to think of them as leaders?
- Making Group Decisions: How satisfied are you with the decisions that were reached by your group?
- Real World Applications: How would you use this in your life outside of class?
- Team Interaction: Can you provide specific examples of when the group cooperated in completing the activity?
- Conflict: How similar or different were the opinions in your group?
- Differences: How did commonalities or differences between group members help in completing the task? How did they create difficulties?
- Trusting the Group: Can you provide examples of when you trusted someone in the group?
DEBRIEFING STRATEGIES FOR THE TEACHER
DEBRIEFING GUIDELINES FOR THE STUDENTS
DEBRIEFING TECHNIQUES (A - q)
- Apple and Onion: An Apple is a positive comment about themselves, a group member, the group, or the activity. An Onion is something they did not like about the experience
- Chiji/Expression Cards: Students choose a card that best represents an experience, feeling, thought, or emotion that they had during the activity. Each person/group will show their card(s) and share what it/they represents to them.
- Complete the Sentence: Give students a partial sentence to complete. For example, "During the activity I felt..."
- Crumpled Paper: Students write anything they want about the activity, themselves, or the group and throws it into the center circle. After mixing up the crumpled papers, everyone takes a piece of paper and reads it aloud to the group.
- Faces/Emojis: Pass around laminated sheets and each student will choose one picture that represents how they currently feel or how they felt during the activity.
- Headliners: The students create a headline about the activity that they just completed.
- Index Cards: Write debriefing questions on index cards and pass them out. Have the participants reflect and answer the question as part of whole group, in partners, in small groups, or by themselves.
- One Word: Students use one word to characterize how the group conducted itself.
- Quick Toss: Toss an object around the circle and when caught, participants answer a predetermined question or can share a thought, compliment, or experience.
DEBRIEFING TECHNIQUES (r - Z)
- Rocks: Pass around a bag of rocks and tell students to take as many as they want from the bag (at least one). For each rock they took they will explain one thing about the activity to the group.
- Rose, Bud, and Thorn: Each person shares their rose, bud, and thorn. Rose is something they enjoyed about the activity, thorn is an area that needed improvement, and bud is something they took away from the activity.
- Skill Lists or "Top x": Students brainstorm a list of skills they use in an activity and write them down.
- Snapshot: Students are asked: "If you were to take a picture at any moment during the activity, what would have taken a picture of and how is it representative of your experience?"
- Thumbs Up, Down, or to the Side: Rate how the group (or you) did, and explain why you rated it that way.
- Traffic Lights: Each student chooses either the red, yellow, or green light to represent what they thought about the activity and then explains why. Green light = full speed ahead, yellow = proceed with caution, red = stop!
- Web of Compliments: The group passes an object to each member. When they receive the object, that person must pick a person, say why they are proud of them, and then pass them the object.
- What Part are You?: Ask each person to choose the part of the activity that best represents their role within the group. For example, what part of the house best described your role in the last activity and why?
- Yard Stick or Ruler: Each student shows how they rated the activity by touching a number on the ruler and sharing why they touched that number.
Resources Used for this Page
- The New PE. Cummiskey, M. (2012).
- Tips And Tools: The Art of Experiential Group Facilitation. Stanchfield, J. (2008).