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Try, Reflect, Try Again

A structure to practice communicating thoughtfully in disagreement

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Sample discussion prompts

PURPOSE: This repeatable structure/activity is designed to surface differing opinions while people work together and then to support reflection and new ways of interacting. The group consensus task engages and surfaces opinions. The reflection step supports noticing thoughts, emotions, assumptions, and communication patterns and then invites people to try again to listen to oneself and others. 

WHEN TO USE: To engage people in analyzing and discussing an artifact (a text, school policy, data, etc.) where there is a possibility disagreement about the interpretation or implications. Highly adaptable to different subject areas. 


  1. Prepare a controversial or highly engaging prompt that you feel is safe and relevant to discuss in your context. Choose from provided example prompts, use one of the prompt templates for various subject areas, or prepare your own.

  2. Add whatever discussion prompts you plan to use to the template student facing slides.

  3. OPTION: Print field notes pages for students to track their discussion responses and reflections.


  1. Try to reach a consensus or solve a problem as a group

    • Take a few minutes to individually come up with their answers.

    • In small groups try to come to agreement. (We recommend beginning with groups of four.)

  2. Reflect (Template slide deck includes all reflection questions)

    • How did you feel in the conversation and when you saw the controversial prompt? 

    • What thoughts did you have? Do you believe they’re true in retrospect?

    • How did you communicate when you when you were believing those thoughts and having those feelings? 

    • What’s a way you’d like to try responding when you disagree?

  3. Try again! Return to small groups. Continue with the previous prompt, or a new one, and then reflect. 


  • Communication skills

  • Self-awareness (metacognition, emotional awareness, group behavior)

  • Growth mindset

  • Text/media/data analysis (depending on the prompt you choose)


  • 5th-12th and beyond


  • Advisory / SEL

  • English & Language Arts

  • Social Studies, History

  • STEM


  • X-X minutes

TRY to reach consensus or solve a problem as a group.

REFLECT on your group experience and communication.

TRY AGAIN to communicate effectively with your group.


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