Pose a question or statement to the group, asking each person to respond in turn.
Continue around the circle in one direction, or at random.
Video Transcript for Fill The Gap Debrief Activity
presented by Nate Folan
So a bit of reflection for what we just experienced, and that’s why we’re going to use an exercise called ‘Fill The Gap’. Another term for it might be like a Sentence Starter. So I’m going to put one out there, a sentence starter or a phrase that I start but you’ll finish.
And the way this will work is I’m going to put in a couple of different phrases at different points. Now let’s say if you’re so inspired to respond to any one of these please do, and we’ll see what shows up as a reflection to what we just did.
So for example the first one is ‘The best part of this activity was…’ blank. You fill in that blank or that gap.
So the best part of this activity was…
(Knowing that we had a part in setting it up before we did it. We created our own reality.)
Great. And now I invite you into this to even start with the sentence starter just to frame it that way, so we actually hear that full sentence from you.
(So the best part of this activity was knowing that we set it up and had a part in creating our own reality.)
(The best part of this activity was reaching the end.)
(The best part of this activity was the shared laughter as we sort of made our way through and watching each other sort of struggle but succeed.)
So from the best part to the most challenging part of this activity was… blank or gap. Fill in the gap. The most challenging part of this activity…
(The most challenging part of this activity was reaching the end.)
The most challenging part of the activity was working with a larger group as opposed to just a partner, and the communication piece.)
Nice. So we’ll shift it one more time, another sentence starter or another fill in the gap. And what this one is is, The person I enjoyed working with most was…? blank, because… blank. I should say person or people.
(The person I enjoyed working with most was Kayla and Kyle because we’re a new team that just this weekend had to work together and it was awesome team-building.)
How To Play Narrative
Here’s a simple debriefing technique that is easy to understand and will help you direct the focus of your group’s conversation.
Simply ask your group to circle up, and then pose a question or statement (or whatever) that finishes with a ‘dot dot dot.’
That is, you want your group to fill the gap or complete the rest of the sentence or statement, etc.
Depending on your needs, you may wish to be structured and proceed around the circle, or invite random responses.
Practical Leadership Tips
Take a look at Useful Debriefing Tips to learn about the benefits of processing your group’s experience, and how to run a successful debrief.
After a few responses, you may need to restate the question or statement, because the conversation starts to take on a life of its own. And, people have short memories.
If there’s a chance one or more people could sabotage the conversation, deliberately invite someone whom you think will make a valuable contribution first. This tactic is very useful, because if the conversation gets de-railed early on, it may be hard to pull it back.
Also, watch for those folk who like to jump in, or have a second turn. If and when this happens, simply interrupt the interloper, request that they hold onto that information for later, and return the focus to the person who was speaking.
You could integrate Fill The Gap as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to understand their emotions, thoughts and values and how these influence their behaviours.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Linking Feelings, Values & Thoughts
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this reflection activity other than promoting the benefits of choice and agency. Honouring choice is almost always a good thing, so any exercise that invites people to choose at what level they wish to participate (in this case, share) must be a good thing.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to respond to an open-ended question speaks to the benefits of developing emotional intelligence and mindfulness because it motivates your participants to think more deeply about their response, eg what they are thinking and how they are feeling.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which this Fill The Gap debrief activity could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Complete The Sentence: Consider making a statement you would like your group to respond to, such as “The group planned this exercise very well and …”
Observation: Or, make an observation such as “The most exciting thing I did today was…”
To be sure every person has an opportunity to share, apply the Whip Around technique as well.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
With video switched on or off, you can integrate this reflection strategy into any virtual gathering by posing your question and then inviting one or more people to respond via their microphone or typing into the chatroom.
If you want to create a sequence of responses, aka as if the group was standing in a circle, establish the sequence first, eg alphabetical by first/last name or the last two digits of their mobile (cell) phone number (eg 00 to 99.)
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Useful Framing Ideas
It may sound like…
“I WOULD LIKE EACH PERSON TO COMPLETE THE REST OF THIS SENTENCE, TO DESCRIBE THEIR OWN EXPERIENCE. TODAY, THE MOST CHALLENGING THING I DID WAS DOT, DOT, DOT [enter question, topic, etc…]”
“BEFORE WE FINISH UP, I WOULD LIKE EACH PERSON TO TAKE THEIR TURN AND TELL THE GROUP ‘THE BEST EXAMPLE OF SUPPORT I SAW TODAY WAS…”
The inspiration for the Fill The Gap debrief activity was sourced from Paul Radcliffe, one of the many wonderful trainers I learned from during my internship with Project Adventure.