During the last week before the Christmas break, I had my students reflect on their learning journey from the beginning of academic year in August till that point.
Some years ago, I had a period in my class which’s called DEAR. It originally stands for Drop Everything And Read which we usually do that during literacy/book week. But then I thought I could change the definition of the R into Reflect. I do believe that reflecting is a skill that could be developed. I believe that kids who understand and know how to reflect would be able to improve their learning. Being a reflective student means that he can think back of what he’s done and make connection to his own thoughts (judged by himself). This will result improvements which he may need to make as further action.
Sometimes I see students struggling to reflect on what they learn or reflect on their behaviour and think of the consequences as they misbehave.
‘I don’t know.’
‘I don’t learn anything.’
‘I just do it with no reason. It’s fun!’
Such responses are most likely occurred when we ask student to reflect. It is also sometime hard to get them really think of what they’ve done even with the question ‘why’.
We get our students to reflect all the time. In written format, orally and even using their gestures (thumb up/down/aside, etc.). There are many strategies and tools which we can use to help them develop their reflection skills.
One of the strategies which I used during the last week before the break was using the 4-corner game (I can’t really remember the original name for this game). I have seen this used in many different forms and this strategy was used during the assessment workshop which I had at my school. This is also one of the strategy which Kath Murdoch shared in ‘The Power of Inquiry‘ book. It’s called ‘Where am I at?’ (The Power of Inquiry page 182)
I took the categories which are written in the book.
- I get this – I can explain and defend what I know. I can give examples. This makes sense to me.
- I am not as sure of this. I ‘get’ some aspects of it but they need to clarify some things. I am on the way and can explain it in part.
- I have heard of this but I don’t know much – if anything about it. I would have trouble explaining it to anyone.
- I am interested in finding out more about this.
As I explained each category, one student asked for clarification about the last line. He wondered if ‘I am interested in finding out more about this’ would be the stage after I get this or it’s the stage before you do not know much. He explained his point because if he has learned something and he may have more questions to ask and may be interested i finding more things out. I accepted that point. Others who didn’t agree with this point of view said that we could have not known anything yet, so where should we go?
Listening to the discussion, I dragged their attention to the display of bicycle stage which we’ve agreed earlier. As they are familiar with the bicycle stage, I asked them to match the categories.
This was what they got at first.
Use what I know – I get this. I can explain and defend what I know. I can give examples. This makes sense to me.
Learn to use what I know – I am not as sure of this. I ‘get’ some aspects of it but they need to clarify some things. I am on the way and can explain it in part.
Know– I have heard of this but I don’t know much – if anything about it. I would have trouble explaining it to anyone.
Learn to know – I am interested in finding out more about this.
Another discussion came up as they match the category to the bicycle stage. I do enjoy listening to their discussion which I believe it’s a part of practice on explaining their own thinking. Again, not everyone is happy with the result.
‘On the bicycle stage, ‘Know’ means you already know the basic things (riding a bike) and how can this means that I don’t know much about this?‘
‘But if you look at the picture, you still need help although you know how to ride a bike.‘
One was quite and got all of them thinking.
‘Do we have to match the pictures with the categories?‘ asked one student.
‘We may if the work together.’ I replied.
‘Well then, we do not need to match them. We can use the pictures and the categories separately.‘ said one girl.
The rest of the class started agreeing to what she said. So, the majority won.
I think the most important thing when we get them reflect on their learning, we should make sure that the strategies/tools which we use are relevant and make sense for them. With so many tools, categories, rubrics, we sometimes get overwhelmed and hard to decide which one is for which activities. There is no one tool fits all. Adapting them may be the best solution.
So, we decided to use the new categories to reflect on their learning journey in inquiring into their second unit.
I put each category in different corner in the class and let students decide where they are at.
‘In terms of your understanding of human body systems – where are you at?’
I had them explain their reasons (just to make sure they are not following friends). I also questioned their reason which sometimes made them move to a different category. I continued giving them more terms to reflect. I believe when students are familiar with many different tools and strategies in order to help them learn and reflect, eventually they would be able to decide which one works best for themselves. Hopefully. 🙂
I didn’t follow the procedures which was written in the book. I didn’t follow the procedures which ‘the four-corner game’ may originally have. I just tried to pick and adapt to how it may work in this situation in my class.
How do you encouraged your students be reflective? Look forward to hearing from other teachers in this practice.
Happy New Year!