Student Voice Reflection Activities

SoundOut Skill Building Lesson Plans


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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.

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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.

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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
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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!
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
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SoundOut Facilitates Workshops... Contact us to learn more!
SoundOut facilitates workshops on reflection! To learn more contact us!

Workshop Outlines

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All this and more is covered in the time-tested, student-approved SoundOut Workshop Guide for Student/Adult Partnerships!

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Lesson Plan on Trust Circles

SoundOut Skill Building Lesson Plans

SoundOut students presenting their findings about the perfect school.


Introduction: Lesson plan for 8-40 students and adult participants

Goal: When this session is complete, participants should be able to…

  • Build trust among group members in a relatively low-risk environment

Time: 30 minutes

Materials: None

Space: Enough for group to stand in a circle.

Considerations: This lesson plan may sound easy, but many people have strong reaction to the simple act of walking forward with their eyes closed. Depriving yourself of sight demands that you put trust in other members of the group. This exercise prepares group members for more high-risk trust building activities.



  1. Have group stand in a loose circle, about an arm’s length between each person.
  1. Instruct participants: One at a time, each one of will walk cross the circle—with your eyes closed. Once across the circle, the two closest people will gently stop you by placing their hands on your shoulders, turn you around and send you across the circle again. You will cross again, be turned again and this time, when you reach the other side, open your eyes and rejoin the circle. One at a time, every person will cross the circle three times. There is to be complete silence in the group until everyone has gone.
  1. Facilitator: Demonstrate the process for the group.
  1. One at a time, everyone in the group takes a turn.
  1. Once everyone has completed the lesson, ask the group:
    • How did this activity feel?
    • Was it tougher than you expected?
    • What was the hardest thing? The most surprising?
    • What did you learn by taking the walk?

What did you learn by observing others?


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Student Voice Brainteaser Activities

SoundOut Skill Building Lesson Plans
SoundOut students brainstorming their definitions of student voice.
SoundOut students in Seattle brainstorming their definitions of student voice.


Keep the pace of lessons up-beat and energetic with these challenging mind games! All of these activities are fun, although they can be a bit frustrating at times for participants. More importantly, they can serve as great metaphors during lessons to keep participants thinking. They can be fillers before you start, during break times, or after you end. There’s only one rule – you can’t tell the answers. Remember the adage, “Knowledge is earned – not given.” Try to memorize your favorite mind twist, and go without these notes. Good luck!



1. Activities Going Camping – Start by saying, “We’re going camping this weekend! The thing is though that we can only bring along particular items. It’s kind of a crazy camping trip!” Then, say one thing at a time, letting people think about each one. “We can bring a dog, but not its dog food… an elephant, but not a canary… an end table, not a lamp. . .” you add more.

Answer: Things with four legs can go camping; anything else can’t.

2. Silly Sally – Begin with, “I’ve got this crazy friend named Silly Sally. You see, she only likes certain things, very particular things. Let me tell you about her.” Then slowly start listing off what Silly Sally likes… “She likes apples, but not bananas… spaghetti, but not the sauce… Seattle, not Olympia… troops, not packs… Jeeps, not Fords… Bill, not Tom… the roof, but not the ceiling… the floor, but not the carpet…”

Answer: Silly Sally likes things with double letters!

3. Crossed or Uncrossed – Holding up two sticks, announce that you want the group to guess “Are these crossed or uncrossed?” As they guess you confirm or deny that they are crossed or uncrossed. You pass the sticks to the next guy, and he asks “Crossed, or uncrossed?” Go around the entire circle until everyone says “Oh, yeah, now I get it!” I like to say, “Remember, the answer isn’t always in the most obvious solution.”

Answer: The answer isn’t in the sticks, but the legs of the person asking “Crossed, or uncrossed?” Are they sitting with their legs crossed or uncrossed?

4. Ancient Counting Sticks – Hold up three sticks in the air, and announce that they are the ancient counting sticks of Zoogoobawgooland. “These three sticks will be conformed in such a way that will represent a number.” Then lay the three sticks on the ground in a unique way.

Answer: Show the number you wish to represent with your fingers. Put your hand someplace not too obvious… Keep having the participants guess, and keep changing the number and stick layout. Use both hands, making numbers up to 10. As you progress, keep making gestures more obvious as you go along.


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Lesson Plan on Creating Roles for Students and Adults

SoundOut Skill Building Lesson Plans
SoundOut participants in a collective impact activity for students and educators.
SoundOut participants in a collective impact activity for students and educators.


Introduction: This inquiry-based lesson plan requires a group of 4-40 students and adults. This activity was adapted from Youth Empowerment: A Training Guide (1990) created by CampFire, Inc.

Goal: When this session is complete, participants should be able to…

  • Provide the opportunity to carefully think through how to involve students in programs.
  • Deepen understanding of the work and commitment required for effective Student-Adult Partnerships

Time: 90 minutes

Materials: Flip chart paper and markers; copies of the worksheets from the end of this workshop.

Space: Enough to accommodate the group

Considerations: While not necessary, it is helpful if participants have first completed Exploring Group Strengths and Weaknesses and Students and Adults as Ideal Partners, both located in this section. Greater knowledge of individual strengths and interests, as well as what is needed to be an effective partner, helps to ground this activity in reality.




  1. Split the group into teams of about 5 people each, depending on size of group. Teams need to be mixed students and adults. Half the teams will work on roles for adults; the other half on roles for students.
  1. Hand out the appropriate work sheets to each team. Have participants work in their groups to complete them.
  1. Teams report back on the roles they developed. Allow for questions and comments.
  1. Close with a discussion, including:
  • What was it like to create these roles?
  • How realistic do you think the descriptions are? Why or why not?
  • How might you apply these job descriptions to your work together?


Defining the Role of a Student

Describe the role for students.


Answer the following questions about the opportunity:

  1. Is this a real job? What is its usefulness to the class or school?
  1. Will this position lead someone to greater responsibility in the class or school?
  1. Is adequate support and supervision available from the staff? Do staff know how to supervise?
  1. What skills, training, experience, and knowledge will students gain from this opportunity?


Answer the following questions about possible candidates for this opportunity:

  1. Who will really want to fill this role? Is this work that is of interest or value to some students? Why?
  1. What knowledge, skills and attitudes are necessary to succeed in this role?
  1. How can you adjust the work schedule, quantity of work accomplished, quality of work accomplished, nature of training, responsibility for others, degree and kind of supervision, formal reporting requirements, and other parts of the opportunity so that more students might qualify?



Defining the Role of an Adult

Describe Opportunity Here:


Answer the following questions about the opportunity:

  1. Specifically what will this person need to do to make Student-Adult Partnerships work?
  1. How is this different from existing opportunities in the class or school?
  1. What kind of resources (time, training, other) will the person need in order to be successful?


Answer the following questions about possible candidates for the opportunity:

  1. What knowledge, skills attitudes, and other qualifications are necessary to succeed at this role?
  1. How could you determine if someone was suited for this role?


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Lesson Plan on Creating Roles for Students and Adults to Improve School

SoundOut Skill Building Lesson Plans
Students and educators in a SoundOut workshop in São Paulo, Brazil in 2014.
Students and educators in a SoundOut workshop in São Paulo, Brazil in 2014.


Introduction: An inquiry-based lesson plan for 4-40 students and adult participants

Goal: When this session is complete, participants should be able to…

  • Identify their goals for Student-Adult Partnerships
  • Understand where Student-Adult Partnerships can benefit our society

Time: 40 minutes

Materials: Flip chart paper and markers

Space: Floors or tables with enough space for teams to spread out their paper and work

Considerations: We often talk about what an individual needs in order to work with students or adults. However, it is useful to get these ideas out in the open and down on paper. This helps people see what is really expected and evaluate what is realistic. This lesson plan engages people by showing their creative sides. It gives them the chance to symbolically represent the ideal characteristics and abilities of an ally.




  1. Break people up in two teams of 4-8, depending on the size of the group. Keep teams all students or all adults.
  1. Tell each team that you will give them a large piece of paper on which they will draw the outline of a person. Tell them that after the outline is complete, they will illustrate it with the kind of characteristics or abilities that an ideal student or adult partner would have. For example, draw big ears on the person to indicate ability to listen.If you really want to get into it, give them a piece big enough to actually outline someone on it. Start with student teams drawing ideal adult partners and adult teams drawing ideal student partners. If you have time, have them do both.
  1. Have teams present their drawings. Create a master list of characteristics as each team reports back.
  1. If time allows, create an Ultimate Partner drawing all together.
  1. Debrief by asking:
    • Which characteristics do you think are most important? Why?
    • Are these realistic? Why or Why not?
    • (If in a mixed group) How do you feel about the ideal partner the other teams came up with? Do you have any concerns? Would you add anything?


If the group is an on-going one, make sure the master drawings and/or a couple of the others stay hanging around to remind people what they’re striving for.




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