Taking action, making change, experiencing new adventures… these are awesome reasons to get out and do something. But the richness of the experience, the learning from the experience, these are equally important if we are going to transform society through action. Reflection is integral to learning, because it helps us build self-awareness, strengthen personal and team growth, and improves our action for the next time.
In age, race, gender, and culturally diverse groups of participants, reflection activities should mirror the differences in the group. These activities may do that, or spur your own creative thinking to create new ones. There are many different ways that people experience and learn from the same situations.
Keep in mind these different learning styles:
- Linguistic Learners – Like to read, write and tell stories
- Interpersonal Learners – Like to have lots of friends, join and talk in groups
- Intra-personal Learners – Like to work alone and pursue own interests
- Spatial Learners – Like to draw, create, daydream and see pictures
- Musical Learners – Like to sing, hum tunes, listen and respond to music
- Bodily/ Kinesthetic Learners – Like to move, touch, talk and use body language
- Logical/ Mathematic Learners – Like to do experiments, figure things out, asks questions and look for patterns and relationship
REFLECTION ACTIVITIES THAT BUILD STUDENT VOICE
- Emotional Go-Around – Participants are asked to show with a word, their body, or a facial expression how they feel right at the moment. Let people show their reaction, one at a time, and then have participants explain their reaction. This activity can give the facilitator a sense of the group mood and gives the participants a chance to express how they feel at that moment.
- Show and Tell – Individually or in pairs, have participants describe items they have collected or used throughout their action, including their reactions and emotions regarding the item or the activity it was used in.
- Human Sculpture – In a large open space, divide your group into two halves. Each half creates a sculpture around a word or phrase (e.g. peace, activism, empowerment) with few props. Then each group displays its ‘art’ for the other group. The watching group can interpret the sculpture, without disruption, for two minutes. When they are finished, the sculpture group can explain its work.
- Engagement Skits – Split the participants into groups of three or four and ask each group to portray their service experience through a skit. Give each group 10 minutes to plan what they will do and up to five minutes to share their skit with the rest of the group. After each group’s presentation, have the whole group process reactions, give suggestions for effective future projects, and give positive feedback to the actor/actresses. This activity could take 30 minutes to an hour to complete.
- Visualization – Take participants on an imaginary tour of their experience. Ask them to find a comfortable position (lay on the floor, rest your head on the table, lounge in a chair) and close eyes. Play relaxing music at a low volume. Ask participants to become aware of their breathing, ask them to leave their present thoughts and clear their minds. Once the participants appear to have relaxed, ask them to begin remembering their service experience. To assist them in remembering their experience mention common events, allow participants to remember how they felt before they did their experience, what their expectations were, what happened in their preparation, how they felt during their service experience. To stimulate their thinking you might mention some of what you remembered. Slowly bring them back to the present. Ask them to become aware of their surroundings, again concentrating on their breathing, and open their eyes when they are ready. Ensure that a quiet tone is maintained. Continue to play music, and ask participants to share their recollections with another person and finally have people make comments to the whole group.
- Group Banners – Using a large pieces of banner paper and markers, ask participants to get into pairs and depict their experiences using a combination of words and pictures. Give them about 10-15 minutes. When completed ask each pair to share their banner with the whole group. Use their banners as a jumping off point for processing the experience.
- All Tied Up – Have the group stand in a circle. Holding the end of a ball of string, hand the ball off to a participant. Ask them to reflect on a particular question (e.g. what was something new you learned today?). Once they have answered the question ask them to hold onto their piece of the string and to pass the ball onto someone else. Continue the process until everyone has reflected on the question, and has a section of string in their hands. When completed, you should have something that looks like a web. When they are all done talking, make some points about the interconnectedness of people, how they are all part of the solution, for if one person had not contributed to their service projects the outcome would have been different, etc.
- Imagining the Future – Ask participants to imagine that the year is 2020, and everyone in the group has come back together for a reunion. As a group, reflect on all of the changes that have happened because of the action you have finished, and the difference that work has made on your life.
- Graffiti Museum – Glue a wide variety of magazine pictures on construction paper, and post them down a hallway wall. Have participants look through all of the pictures, and chose one that represents their impression of the previous event (e.g. an activity, the day, or the whole weekend). Gathering in a circle, have participants quietly circulate the pictures, and write why they do or do not relate with the picture.
- Service Journals – Ask participants to keep a journal of their conference experience through regular (after each activity) entries. Provide framework for the journals (e.g. who will read it, what should they write about, how it will be used). Variations on the Activity: Journaling includes team journaling, and circle journals. You can also provide particular questions to respond to, and use hot topics from activities to reflect on. You may ask participants to reflect on conference topics, including quotations and readings from authors, music groups, etc.
- Stream of Consciousness – After lying down, relaxing and allowing their minds to wander, encourage participants to begin free word association around their experience. Guide participants through the process by offering refocusing words, but allow them to say what comes to their minds, without censor or restriction.
- Collage of Words – Using a large sheet of paper, have participants write words that described their experience. Provide plenty of creative material (e.g. markers, crayons, colored pencils) and a large sheet of paper on a smooth surface. Give them twenty minutes, and have them explain their work when they’re finished. Explain how without everyone’s contributions, the work would not be as rich and varied as it is.
- Action Interviews – Encourage participants to see their projects through the public’s view by conducting media-style interviews with one another. Remember to cover all the bases: who, what, when, where, why and how, or go Oprah and ask the hard-hitting questions!
- Rap and Rhyme Responses – Divide participants into small teams, and give them 10 minutes to write a rap or rhyme about their experience. The teams must incorporate all of their members into the production.
- Group Poem Writing – Like a circle journal, this will bring your group together in a reflection on their service. Circulate a piece of paper around your group with the title across the top “For Love of Engagement”, encouraging each participant to write a line in response to the previous until everyone has written. When finished, have a volunteer read the work to the entire group, and then discuss it.
- Time Capsule – As participants are being introduced to your event, have them put memorabilia and initial attitudes related to their action on paper to start the time capsule. This could include a short project description, an agenda for your event or activity, or anything else relevant to what is going on. Have participants write down how they are feeling at the start of the event, how they feel at different points of their actions (e.g. what they expected at the beginning, how they felt before their action, what they feel/felt (before, during or after) their project as a whole.) Put everything into a “capsule” that will be opened and read aloud and discussed (perhaps anonymously) at the end of the event.
- Compile Questions Left Unanswered – In pairs, ask participants to write down any question they feel is unanswered from the activity you just completed. Encourage them to ask anything, and then report their questions to the large group. Refrain discussion until all the questions are read, but then allow for an open exchange between participants.
- Facilitator Notes and Requirements
- Intro to Student/Adult Partnerships
- Intro to Student Voice
- Readiness for Student/Adult Partnerships
- Bias Against Students
- Being Students
- Understanding Who You Are
- Language in Schools
- Learning to Listen
- Feedback Techniques
- Jargon in Schools
- Power, Trust, and Respect
- Ground Rules
- Group Strengths and Weaknesses
- Trust Circle
- Action Planning
- Problem Solving
- Staying Solutions-Focused
- Letting Go & Taking Charge
- Ideal Partners
- Creating Roles for Students and Adults
All this and more is covered in the time-tested, student-approved SoundOut Workshop Guide for Student/Adult Partnerships!