SOLSC: Rethinking Reflection

Conferences are over. Portfolios have gone home (for a week or two). The last two weeks were filled with groans as the Magical Minds slaved over their reflections for their portfolios. This isn’t what I want. My greatest hope as an educator is to inspire and empower life-long learners. Reflection is one of the best tools I can offer them.

How do I make reflection engaging?  I begin with reflecting on how I reflect:

  • I talk, a lot.  These conversations allow me to process events and make mental connections, which lead to insights and fresh ideas.
  • I have a persona journal, which I write in maybe once a week with my more emotional ramblings
  • I have a work journal, which holds notes from meetings, ideas for lessons, thoughts on kids, etc…
  • I have a to-do-list journal, which is primarily a record of what I have accomplished and what I hope to accomplish
  • I have a blog, where I challenge myself to match my teaching methods with what I know about best-practices.
  • I use twitter to ask questions, share thoughts and engage in digital conversation.

Ok, so I am a bit of an uber-reflector.  But, it’s authentic.  This comes from me, and my need to evaluate and improve.  Thus, this is what I am thinking about trying next time with portfolios:

  1. Digital Pieces / Works: The most amazing things my kids do cannot be captured on paper. The kind of learning that is taking place in our classroom is best caught on video, pictures and audio.  Their best works are digital.  For those who love paper, keep the paper. But, take a photo, too so that kids can reflect on it digitally.
  2. Digital Reflections: It’s tough for most of my third graders to think and write at the same time.  I want the quality of thinking to shine through, not penmanship.  Digital reflections have the potential of freeing kids from the writing, and thus focus on the thinking.
  3. Capture “I Did It” Moments on Video: Teach kids to use the built-in camera to share an “I Did It”moment.  I’m thinking about putting a toy monkey on top of the computer, and asking the kids to “tell Mr. Monkey about what you learned.”
  4. Choose the Learning, Not the Work: Right now my kids choose what to share from a pile of materials that I have returned to them (with feedback on sticky notes).  I want to turn the process around.  I dream of a weekly schedule where on Fridays the kids and I review the goals set out for the week and list what we have learned.  From this list/mind map the kids would choose a photo/video/recording that captures what they learned.
  5. Blog It: I am totally sold on kids having blogs.  Granted, I am still figuring out the best way to use them in class, but using them for reflections seems like my next experiment. With a blog, portfolios  can build gradually and authentically.  After choosing a work on Friday, kids can use the weekend to write their reflections on the blog.
  6. Online Photos and Videos: The kids and I should be constantly adding photos and videos to an online source.  I can teach the Media Specialist how to do this, and then also teach the kids how to access this media and use.
  7. Options and TIME: I can model for kids where I keep my reflections, and then give them options of how they would like to keep their own.  Finally – TIME.  This is the rarest of resources, and most valuable.

4 responses to “SOLSC: Rethinking Reflection

  1. I’m following you around the Slicing community today.
    Seems to me, if I can interpret your idea of reflection upwards to the college level, that you are teaching them a form of analysis–of critical thinking. This is one of the best skills my students can have, and I, too, try to encourage them to reflect, to think critically about what they’ve read and seen and heard in order to process/synthesize it for their own experience.

    I never want to have a classroom of sheepish head-nodders. Reflection and critical thinking help keep it lively and keep it real.

    I was interested to see that you are in Estonia. Estonia! Jealousy has set in. I someday hope to travel there–to all of Eastern Europe. Someday.

  2. the other ruth

    I loved the list where you reflect on your own reflecting–guess what? I do every one of those things except Twitter (coming at some point…just not yet). I felt like I had a sort of virtual friend-reflecter “out there” when I read it. 🙂

    I also really liked hearing your thoughts on ways you can engage your kids in reflective thinking using tech tools. There is so much potential there and you’ve pushed me to consider some things that hadn’t occurred to me. Thank you for that!

  3. Although I am no longer in the classroom this year, I am working with teachers in our school & loved your list of digital ways for further portfolio analyses. The ‘monkey’ idea for young children is a super idea. I can imagine it working so well. We do full student-led portfolio conferences at school, including photographs of any visual work, & do include audio or visual examples when appropriate. I also am interested in the idea of a Friday reflection for portfolio use. In my class of middle schoolers, they reflected on their learning in a letter to me 3 times a week, including social & emotional growth, needs, etc. I never connected these letters to the portfolios as they seemed so private, but I can see that I could have changed the tenor of a Friday letter to include more ‘learning’ reflection. Thank you for starting me thinking of so many new ideas! Love it!

  4. I enjoyed reading both this post and Cultivating A Reflective Practice. I have also been questioning how to be a reflective learner, both for myself and with my students, to support learning and development. I follow you on Twitter and have linked you to our website for our colleagues to read your ideas to absorb and make their own in practice.

    Thank you from ProDivas! in Singapore.

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