There are very few teachers who do not love summer. It is a break from the chaotic daily schedule of bells and grades. It is also an important time to reflect on what worked, and did not work in the classroom. I have found myself reflecting a lot this summer on improving my classes process of student reflection.
One of the biggest changes I made last year was to allow students to redo all homework and labs. I did this with great reservation as I feared I would be buried in a mountain of work to grade and then regrade. What I actually found was that too often, kids were content with that 3 out of 5. It was done. When I would as something like, “What have I (or we) learned from doing this activity?” I would get a shrug and an “I don’t know but it is done.” I want to be more purposeful at helping my students make connections to why we are doing what we are doing.
Donald Finkel writes about how teaching should be thought of as “providing experience, provoking reflection.”
He goes on to write:
… to reflectively experience is to make connections within the details of the work of the problem, to see it through the lens of abstraction or theory, to generate one’s own questions about it, to take more active and conscious control over understanding.
~ From Teaching With Your Mouth Shut
I feel like I do a good job of providing my students experiences. Where I struggle is then also provoking reflection. Reflection is a time to allow students to describe what they saw in their own work that changed, needs to change, or might need to be described so another person might understand its meaning. I would like to begin this reflective process using an activity page in the students science notebooks.
- What is the main idea or topic from this week?
- What are three important details to remember about this topic?
- Where could I use this again?
- How well did I do?
- What should I do next?
After getting some examples and advice from Mari Venturino (@MsVenturino) , I also decided to add a parent or adult reflection piece. That lead me to develop the following reflections science notebook questions.
- The notebook page we found most interesting this week was…
- What is the most valuable or interesting idea or topic my student is learning this week?
- The information my student is learning is important because….
My current plan is to try to alternate between these two weekly reflections. I will do the student reflection one week and then the adult reflection the following week. Goal is to have some reflection happening on a consistent basis to keep kids thinking about what we are doing and why we might be doing it.