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Exercise in Definitions - What Does It All Mean?

Exercise in Definitions - What Does It All Mean?

About the activity


  • Discuss and reflect on different interpretations of words and terms. Understand that definitions and perceptions can change over time. Practice how to change opinion in light of new information.

Misunderstandings can occur when we use a term lacking universal agreement on what it actually means. This exercise is designed to clarify what certain terms actually mean and to practice how to adjust our point of view by interacting with others and discovering new information.

The exercise can be used as preparation for a given topic or to tackle inappropriate language in the classroom. We are using the term racism to illustrate how to carry out the exercise.


Divide the students into groups of four and give them post-it notes and a sheet of A3 paper.

Make the students draw the figure attached on the piece of paper.

Write the term, in this case "racism", in the middel field. The students are given one of the surrounding fields each.


Figur i A3 for begrepsøvelse


Exercise in definitions

  • 1

    Individually: Explain the term on post-its

    Work individually to begin with: Explain the term racism. Write down three things to help explain the word (one on each Post-it). This could be both key words and full sentences.

    Afterwards, the students place their post-its in "their" area on the worksheet.

  • 2

    Group activity: Discuss and agree on three notes

    Asks the students to read their notes to each other. When one student is reading, the others are listening and preparing to ask clarifying questions, if needed.

    Allow them to compare and notice if they have reached similar or differing understandings.

    Make the students agree on three post-it notes they find necessary to explain the term racism, and place these in the field in the middle of the worksheet.

  • 3


    Discuss and share within the group:

    • Were there any interpretations of the word that you did not expect?
    • Did you disagree with any of the other interpretations?
    • How did you settle on the final three things? Did you miss out anything important?
    • Has your interpretation of the word changed?

    It might also be fruitful to ask the students to discuss the conversation itself:

    • How did they come to an agreement?
    • Were they able to listen to each other?
    • Was there any challenging elements?
    • Could they have solved it in a different manner?
  • 4

    The definition of the class (optional)

    The groups attempt to reach one joint definition of the term. They write these down, and then share their definition with the class.

    Discuss with the class:

    Are the definitions similar or dissimilar? In what ways?

    Was it challenging to reach one joint definition? Did you disagree? If so; on what or why?