As teachers, we have a lot to get done. With limited teaching time each day and a never-ending list of things to cover with our students, it can be easy to move through our lessons at a fast pace, always ready for the next topic. There’s an important step in the learning process though that we must not forget about though. That important step is – reflecting on learning.
When children are given the opportunity to reflect on their learning, they are able to think through the things that worked and things that didn’t. This helps them to make more informed decisions the next time they try an activity. Having time to reflect and ponder on learning can also be a helpful way for many students to actually digest the new information they’ve received and come to a clearer understanding of unfamiliar topics.
So, how can we be providing students with regular opportunities to reflect on their learning? Here are three ideas to get you started.
Model Reflecting for Your Students
As a teacher and a mother, I can tell you with certainty that children learn from observing others. One way to teach students how to reflect on their learning is through modelling the process of reflection yourself.
For example, next time you introduce a new activity to your students, demonstrate how they should complete the activity by doing it yourself. Then, at the end of the task, model how you would reflect on your own experience with the task before asking your students to spend some time reflecting too.
Use Sentence Starters
Sometimes students need a bit of help with expressing their thoughts, particularly if they are not used to reflecting on their learning. That’s where sentence starters can be useful.
A sentence starter is simply the first few words of a sentence. For example, you might use the following sentence starters to help your students begin their reflections:
Something that I am proud of about how I worked today is . . .
Something that I can improve on in my work is . . .
A problem that I had to solve while working on this task was . . .
By giving students something to start with, you are able to make the process of reflecting a little less overwhelming. This also helps them to be more focused and specific with their reflections.
Allow Students to Share Their Ideas in Different Ways
There’s no reason why students need to always reflect on their learning through writing. In fact, by varying the way you ask them to share their responses, you’re likely to get a much richer reflection from them.
Some examples of how you can ask students to reflect include through discussion, interview, video or drawings. Try to take note of some of the different learning preferences that your students have, and use that to help you vary the way you ask them to reflect on their learning.
So, the next time you teach something new, I encourage you to think about how you’re going to make sure your students have the opportunity to reflect on their learning. Let’s make sure we’re not forgetting this important step in the learning process.
Do you want some tips on using intentional questioning in the classroom while you’re here? Then have a read through my post on using intentional questioning to encourage deeper thinking.
Have a question or a request? You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.