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- Questions. When you can formulate a question about something, it means that you have learned about a gap in your knowledge. In other words, you have discovered something that you would like to learn.
- Information / Data / Facts. These are specific details that relate to some area of knowledge or skill. This category of learning is the simplest and is often what people focus on when asked "what did you learn?" Information tends to be dry and unemotional.
- Insights / Concepts / "Aha!" Moments. Often when we have a collection of facts or an experience, we see a pattern or make interesting connections between things. This leads us to the great feeling of an insight. Insights tend to be exciting or scary and have an emotional component.
- Action Items. These are decisions about what we would like to do in the future, but they could be extremely short-term or very long-term or anything in between.
- Individual Reflection. For 10 to 15 minutes, each individual works silently to write down the things that they have learned in the appropriate category on the handout. Everyone should try to get at least a couple things into each of the four categories, but more is welcome.
- Sharing with the Group. Systematically going around the group and getting people to read from what they have written. This is another 10 to 15 minutes. This stage should not get bogged down in discussion, but brief clarifying questions should be welcome.
- Identifying Important Learning. The group now has open discussion to decide on a small number of things it considers the most important that it has learned. This could be based on popularity, but impact, depth, or uniqueness might also be factors in considering importance. These are the items that get written down on the flip-chart. This is usually the longest part of the retrospective and can take up to 30 minutes.