Knowledge is ancient error reflecting on its youth.
--Francis PicabiaAs important as goal setting is to a student's growth and determination to succeed, so too is the ability to reflect upon his work and derive meaning, lessons, and a deeper understanding of not only the content, but applications of that content in various contexts. This is a skill we as teachers often do for our students. But if we can embed authentic self-reflection skills into our daily lessons, our students will be able to take their learning full circle and a sense of satisfaction of one's own growth will be theirs to savor.
How do I embed quality reflection practice into my lessons?
These practices can and should be done during and after lessons. Your students will become more proficient and efficient with their abilities as they are exposed to these opportunities.1. Debate it!:
One of my favorite ways of having my students demonstrate learning and reflect upon their own learning is through debate. Have students argue how their understanding is an adequate summation of the content learned. In doing so, students are not only having to show that they do have a firm understanding but how what they have taken away from the lesson adequately covers the most important aspects of the topic.
2. Report the News!:
My students love to video themselves. This is a great way to engagingly assess their learning. Have students take on the role of news anchor and report, "Today's Hot Topic," and provide a quick overview of the content in the lesson.
3. More Than 2 Ways:
As students work together on collaborative groups, have them include in their reflection all of the ways they could explore the content and still arrive that the same conclusion. For example, In a group of four students working on a project about recycling, each student will approach the learning in his own unique way. As they learn to express their own thinking with confidence, this reflection skill will enhance their ability to not only identify and own their own thinking, but be able to develop an empathetic view of the thinking of others.
4. Mingle and Merge:
After students complete a lesson, have them mingle around the room looking to merge with 2-3 other students who have a different perspective on the content. They are to link up with those students to form a more comprehensive perspective. As students mingle, they gain stronger understanding and learn more information that might have been missed. They have to present the group's understanding of the content giving credit to the contribution of each member.
5. Mingle and Match:
Similar to Mingle and Merge, students are asked to mingle around the room searching for 2-3 students who share their perspective on the content. They are to link up with those students to form a united group who will them argue that their understanding or findings are comprehensive, logical, and repeatable.
6. Put the Art into Smart!:
Most students enjoy artistic expression, even if they are not the best artists. Have students create a visual expression of their learning. They may draw, illustrate, or construct a depiction of what they have learned.
7. The Rubric Has It:
Traditionally, rubrics have been used to assess understanding or as guidelines to create projects. In this exercise, students use a rubric to assess the thinking of each other. Points such as, "Is your partner's thinking logical?" and "Does your partner's thinking use creative thought when coming to his/her conclusion?" help students observe the thinking of others in a more critical way and thus enhances their own thinking.
8. Examine and Experiment:
After a lesson has concluded, have students reflect on their learning by taking what they consider the most interesting aspect of the content and examining it further and on a deeper level. They will then develop an experiment that will test their "wonder question" about the topic.
9. Solve It!
Create a problem or situation that needs resolution in which students are required to use the content they learned to solve it. Genius Journal Prompts is a great place to start thinking about these kinds of scenarios.
10. Act it Out!
Reflection doesn't always have to be in written form. Students can play a game of charades or put on a One Act play demonstrating their learning.
11. Tweet it!
Twitter is a fantastic way to share concise learning reflections. If your class has a twitter account or if each student has a twitter account, you can storify their reflections as a sort of virtual learning portfolio. Having students tweet their reflective thoughts about learning requires them to have a full understanding of the content and challenges them to pack as much reflective thought into 140 characters.
The idea is to not only have students identify their strengths and opportunities as learners, to set attainable and realistic goals that reflect this self-awareness of skills, but to also have the opportunity to frequently examine their thinking and learning reflectively. As teachers, we want them to be able to judge for themselves whether they are learning everything they need to learn in lessons. Conferring with students weekly also helps teachers shape this reflective piece so that students are guided toward better goal-setting and stronger learning in the future. It is a heavy task to ask of elementary students, but if they begin to practice these skills in the primary grades, they will be better equipped to make effective decisions about their own education in middle and high school and college. The trick is for teachers to clearly set their expectations, give students feedback, and allow students to be active participants in their own feedback.