Appreciation Circle: Debriefing Activity

Appreciation Circle: Debriefing Activity

Approximate Running Time: 10 minutes + (determined by the number of participants, the length of the program, the depth of appreciation comments, etc)

Minimum Group Size: 3 people

Maximum Group Size: 20 people

Age/ Level: Grade 3+

Space Required: Enough space for a group circle.



“Speaking stick” or ball, anything to indicate whose turn it is to share



No set-up required



The objective of this activity is for participants to have the opportunity to spend the time genuinely sharing appreciation for one another.


Facilitator Guidelines:

This is a simple debrief or end of program activity that can be run in many different ways. Here are some options:

  1. Participants may appreciate anyone popcorn style (meaning no specific order) for the time allotted (i.e. 1 minute per person)
  2. Participants may offer a more focused appreciation (1 person being appreciated at a time until people don’t have anything else to say)
  3. Participants may use a ball of focus. Anyone who wants to be appreciated will take a turn holding the ball and everyone who has an appreciation for that person can share their appreciation while they are in possession of the ball.



It’s essential that the group is focused and showing respect to those who are speaking, and those who are being appreciated. If the group is unable to maintain focus and demonstrate respect, the facilitator may wish to end the activity and debrief why the activity had to end.

All participants should be included in this activity.



Plus/ Delta Frontload and/ or Debrief


Approximate Running Time: 5 minutes to 5 hours (time allotted is determined by the depth of reflection/ debrief)


Minimum/ Maximum Group Size: 1 person to 1000+ people


Age/ Level: Participants should be capable of reflection, sharing ideas, understanding the difference between behavior that they would like to repeat, and behavior that they would like to change.


Space Required: Sufficient space for participants to sit comfortably, indoors or outdoors.



  • Whiteboard/ chart paper
  • Journals/ notepads for participants (if whiteboard/ chart paper/ wall space unavailable)
  • Markers or pens if journals or notepads are being used.


Set-up: None required


Objective: To help groups or individuals evaluate a single experience or a chain of experiences.


Developing a Plus/Delta evaluation into a Plus/Delta model requires you to save and use previous Plus/Delta lists. After you or your group has made an initial Plus/Delta list, you must keep it for future review. The Plus/Delta becomes a working document in which you and your group track the implementation of deltas from previous experiences, and record whether any pluses has been forgotten.


Facilitator Guidelines:

In a Plus/ Delta, pluses are specific actions that an individual or group took during their activity/ experience, which allowed them to feel successful. The pluses are actions that they hope to repeat in future experiences. Deltas are suggested actions that an individual or group can take in future experiences, which will allow those experiences to be more enjoyable or successful than the one that is being evaluated.

The Plus/ Delta can be used as a working document, in which facilitator and participants track the implementation of deltas from previous experiences, and record whether any pluses and been forgotten

1. Have participants complete an experience or task

2.  Gather group members together to evaluate the experience or task

3.  Elicit specific pluses and deltas from group members, and encourage all members to contribute to the Plus/ Deltas

4.  Use the Discussion Shadow to make sure that each group member’s ideas are clearly understood and recorded

5.  Save and store the Plus/Delta in a place that is accessible to all

6.  Complete another experience or task

7.  Review previous Plus/Delta

8.  Move any deltas that have been changed, to the plus category

9.  Record any new pluses or deltas; encourage all group members to contribute 

10. Use the Discussion Shadow to make sure that each group member’s ideas are clearly understood and recorded

11. Save and store the Plus/Delta in a place that is accessible to all

12.  Repeat this process throughout working with the same group, or throughout working toward the same goal



It is helpful to use the following chart format to clearly record pluses and deltas.


(Positive Actions)


(Suggested Changes)





What Is Debriefing and How Is It Done?

Debriefing is an experience that enables participants to connect activities and lessons they learned in an activity, experience, or program, to the outside world.


When Does Debriefing Take Place?

Debriefing may take place at the end of any activity or experience, including at the end of a segment of an experience, or the end of a series of activities. There is not one perfect time to debrief, or a set guidelines for how long each debrief should last. JUMP! recommends varying debrief strategies, and using activities that give participants the knowledge and power to take the lead in their debriefing process.


What are the Benefits of Debriefing?

David Kolb, an American educational theorist and one of the forefathers of experiential education philosophy, believed that in order to truly learn from experience there must be time for reflection.

Debriefing is a core component of Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle. By reflecting on, and recognizing the knowledge, skills and attitudes used in an experience, participants develop personal awareness and insight and become aware of the inner resources that they can access in future experiences.


Debriefing Steps

Experiential activities provide a lot of discussion points. However, it’s important to remember that if post-activity debriefs are not structured properly they may not be effective, and opportunities for learning may not surface.

In order to maximize the benefits of experiential activities, and enable participants learning and development through the process, it’s helpful to follow a three step model for how to ask debrief questions: What? So What? Now What? Schoel, Prouty, & Radcliffe, 1988).

Here are some notes about this process, directly from Schoel, prouty, & Radcliffe’s 1988 book Islands of healing: A guide to Adventure Based Counselling.


  1. The What
    Purpose: Review the activity to collect data of what happened
    Explanation: The intention is to draw out as much information as possible from the group in order to refer back to it later on in the discussion. From this foundation of what happened, the facilitator can guide the discussion forward into greater understanding of the experience, and help draw out the learning from it.
    Example Questions: What happened? What took place during that activity? What did you observe?
  2. The So What
    Purpose: Look at details and interpret the data to draw out the significance of the activity in order to gain insight
    Explanation: Moving from the descriptive and observable to the interpretive, the intention is to draw more meaning of what happened, and/or how it happened as well as to “unpack” the more subtle levels of what took place.
    Example questions: How was your communication? What contributed to your team’s success? What role did you play in the group during the activity?
  3. The Now What?
    Purpose: Bridge from recent experience to future experience
    Explanation: In order for what has just taken place to have significance or impact, the ‘now what’ questions get the participants to think ahead and possibly apply what they have learnt. It may also be appropriate for participants to look at what has just taken place on a metaphoric level and draw meaning or insight in that way.



Schoel, J., Prouty, D., & Radcliffe, P. (1988).  Islands of healing: A guide to adventure based counseling.  Hamilton, MA: Project Adventure.

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.





What is Frontloading and How Is It Done?

Frontloading means punctuating the key learning points before an activity or experience takes place, rather than or in combination with, debriefing it afterwards.


When does Frontloading take place?

Frontloading may take place either before, during, or after an instructional briefing, before participants take action.


What are the benefits of frontloading? 

  • It helps participants use the upcoming activity to build on prior knowledge and experience
  • It helps participants set purpose and intention for the activity
  • It distributes expertise to the participants before the activity begins, as opposed to the facilitator or instructor being the only expert


How can I incorporate Frontloading in activities or experiences that I’m facilitating?

Direct frontloading typically addresses one or more of the following types of questions that you may wish to incorporate in your program. The following question examples are from Priest & Gass’s Effective Leadership In Adventure Programming, 1993:


Objective Questions: ask about the aims of the activity and what can be learned or gained from the experience.


Motivation Questions: ask why experiencing this activity may be important and how learning relates to daily life.


Function Questions: ask what behaviors will help bring about success and how the group may optimize them.


Dysfunction Questions: ask what behaviors will hinder success and how the group can avoid or overcome them.


Revisiting Previous Dysfunction: Revisiting reminds group members of the behaviors they pledged to perform after the last activity. For example, after a facilitator explains the task they can pose a question such as “What were the commitments that the group made last time?”. “This will bring the previous answers to the “do things differently next time” question to the front of clients’ minds so that clients re more likely to act on their revisited affirmations during the activity”


*Beware of overwhelming participants with too much frontloading: the average person can juggle 5 to 9 thoughts in the mind at once. Activities and challenges often have numerous instructional points. Consider your intentions and objectives carefully when selecting appropriate frontloading questions.



JUMP! Facilitator Notes

Priest & Gass, Effective Leadership In Adventure Programming, p.208, Boulder, Co Association for Experiential Education,1993.

Daniels and Zemelman, and Wilhelm, Jeffrey D. Frontloading: Preparing Students For Success. Boise State University. Accessed October 17, 2014.






Creative Canvas/ Sticky Storm

Creative Canvas/ Sticky Storm

Approximate Running Time: 15-20 minutes

Minimum Group Size: 1 person

Maximum Group Size: 1000 + people

Age/ Level: All

Space Required: Enough space for all participants to sit comfortably, and space for each group to post their chart paper and move around it.



– Approximately 8-10 sticky notes per participant

– 1 pen/ pencil per participant

– Chart paper (1 per group)

– Markers (2-4 per group)



Create group “stations” by laying out flipchart paper, sticky notes (enough for approx 8 per participant), and markers.



The objective of this activity is for participants to consider an idea/ prompt/ reflection in an interactive and visual/ kinetic way.
Facilitator Guidelines

  1. Invite participants to sit with their groups around their flipchart paper and sticky notes.
  2. Tell the participants the prompt that you have planned prior to the program. For example: “What makes you a leader?”
  3. Ask participants to write their responses on the sticky notes provided, one response per sticky note.
  4. After they write their responses ask the groups to gather their sticky notes together and then categorize the ideas that they have.
  5. When they have categorized their ideas ask them to showcase the order of importance of the responses through an illustration on their flipchart paper. This illustration will serve as a measuring tool for the responses theuy had for the prompt. The illustrations can be absolutely anything. Examples from previous groups include: hamburgers, ice cream sundaes, beaches, thermometers, dinosaurs, etc).
  6. When the groups have completed their designs give them an opportunity to share with the rest of the participants.


Facilitation Variations:

You may wish to provide them with time to display their designs on the walls and wander around the gallery of designs, before you have a group discussion about them.


General Debrief Questions:

 What is on your drawing?

Why did you choose those designs/ images?

What do those images represent?

Why did you choose those ideas over others?

Are everyone’s ideas represented?

What is the most important concept or idea represented on your group’s drawing? Why?






Growth Mountain Walk

Growth Mountain Walk

Time: 10-15 Minutes


Materials Needed:

  • Growth Mountain Prompts
  • Taped/ or rope in the shape of growth mountain on the ground



  • Let the participants know that this activity is best done in silence: a good way to show respect, and keep reflective mode to make it more meaningful for the participants.
  • The facilitator is going to mention some prompts, participants are to place themselves on the mountain where they seem fit. (Encourage them to be as honest as possible so they can get the most out of this activity)



  • Playing an instrument
  • Public Speaking
  • Taking a math test
  • Making new friends
  • Eating Chinese Food
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Living in Beijing
  • Driving
  • Painting or Drawing
  • Being on time
  • Swimming
  • Playing Sports
  • Writing an essay
  • Traveling
  • Eating Veggies
  • Climbing a mountain
  • Building something with your hands
  • Finishing homework on time
  • Reading a map
  • Learning languages



  • These are good prompts to start off with, please look at refer to your program to use and/or add more prompts that are relevant to the participants.