Reflection is a key learning process that helps student explain their process of understanding. We naturally reflect as learners.
In our learning adventures, we have come to a variety of checkpoints along the way where we need to process and evaluate our current learning context. Without reflection, we subject ourselves to our own status quo. Though reflection, in general, is not. explicitly taught in schools unless it is embedded in the culture of the school or in the classroom.
BENEFITS TO REFLECTION
Reflection is one of our four essential skills in our STEAM class. Since students design their own learning processes, frequently evaluating their process is essential. If a learner is going from point A to point B, the weekly reflections are a number decisive points the students took to get to point B. Though a number of our students say that reflection is extra work and sometimes unnecessary, according to Rusul Alrubail , Edutopia Community Facilitator/ Student Voice & Literacy at The Writing Project, (https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/scaffolding-student-reflections-sample-questions) reflection has it’s long term benefits:
- Significance: It allows students to see the importance of their own learning process.
- Process Recognition: Students can identify what they did well, what they failed at, what they need to change.
- Solutions/Strategies: Provides students an opportunities to come up with solutions and strategies to improve on their learning.
- Motivation: Reflection provides students with motivation to learn and enjoy the process of learning. This motivation comes from them reflecting on their thoughts, feelings and emotions.
- Analysis: The most important benefit of reflection in the classroom is for students to be able to know *why* they needed to learn these concepts, theories, and ideas.
- LEARNING WON’T BE CONTENT DRIVEN: It’s important for students to know “how” to learn and how to continue to be learners. Memorizing content will not help students become critical thinkers. Critical thinking stems from pausing, reflecting, and knowing “how” and “why” learning should be happening at that moment.
I believe the more we instill reflection through modeling, repetition, and feedback, the more it becomes habit. Eventually reflection becomes a tool that students can use in avariety of different projects outside of STEAM class. Reflection is like storytelling. This type of storytelling needs to be modeled and taught explicitly. I give students a variety of reflections and we compare and contrast between the reflections to see what makes up a well written reflection. Students noticed that in depth reflections have detailed steps of the learner’s learning process, what they did and how they did it. Students also notice that the in-depth reflection require the learners to not only analyze the the learning context but to also take a step back and reflect on how the current learning context will contribute to the bigger picture. Since STEAM is a project based learning classroom, there is always bigger goal that students will be approaching. They are constantly asked to determine the connections between the current learning activity and the end goal. It’s hard to see the bigger picture of the learning context without asking the WHY and making the connections between the current learning process and the terminal objectives of the learning journey. Below are different types of reflection from a variety of students:
Reflections in our STEAM class has morphed throughout the years. This year, I’ve approach reflection from the following framework of
- BACKWARDS LOOKING
- What did you learn this week?
- What activities did you do this week?
- How did you perform the activities this week?
- FORWARDS LOOKING
- How might you change your process?
- What are your next steps/goals for your project?
- How might your current learning process help you in answering the essential question of the project?
- INWARDS LOOKING
- What were your success and achievement? Why were they successes?
- What were your challenge? Why were they challenges? How might you change up your learning process?
- OUTWARDS LOOKING
- How might other people, outside of this class, think about what your learned and your learning process?
I love this reflection framework because it empowers our students to have a 360 degree perspective of their learning rather than just focusing on the what they did. There is connection between what they did and why they are doing it, what they did well on, what was an obstacle, and what other people might think. On Edutopia, there is a list of 40 reflective questions that uses this framework. (https://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/stw/edutopia-stw-replicatingPBL-21stCAcad-reflection-questions.pdf)
How might you incorporate reflection in your classroom?