Tag Archives: reflection

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.

Investigating Light: Reflection

In the spirit of empowering the Magical Minds to pursue their own interests, I carved out time for the Magical Minds to design their own investigations into light.

While some kids chose to search the internet or watch a movie to find answers to their questions, a small group explored our collection of books to find an experiment.

Soon enough, they had a page marked with a sticky note, and they were filling in a Scientific Method Guide Sheet.

Their question: can you bounce light off mirrors to hit a target?

They started collecting mirrors and sticking them to the floor with Blu Tack.  I borrowed a light box from the middle school science teachers.  The kids build a target.  We turn off the lights.


Adjusting Mirrors

After some time spent adjusting mirrors, and changing angles, I decide they are ready for some new vocabulary to describe what is happening.  I ring the musical triangle – it’s a “Pause for Learning.”  The Magical Minds give me their eyes, ears, hands and minds.  I introduce the word reflection. A couple of my kids recently studied the simple prefix “re-,” and I challenge them figure out what the word “flect” might mean.  With a hint of guidance we determine that “flect” must mean bounce or bend.  Etymonline.com helped us find the real answer:

Because our student-led conferences are just around the corner, I also challenged them to think how light reflecting is similar to the reflections we write for our portfolios.


Plotting Mirror Placement


Light Travels in a Straight Line

This is a nice experiment because the movement of the light so obviously reveals how light travels in a straight line It only bends when something causes it to bend.

Next up – refraction.