Monday, September 22, 2014

Students reflection on their learning - Powerful ways to engage and promote reflection

Day 19 of the +TeachThought Reflective Teacher Blog Challenge!

Reflection on learning is a powerful tool for all of us - students and teachers alike.  It's how we can make changes to improve what we do and what we know.

I've been teaching for around 15 years and have always used reflection as a tool to improve learning and teaching.  Choosing the 3 most powerful ways this can happen wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, but here are my favourites:

  1. Blogging - combined with face-to-face discussion and questioning, feedback.
  2. Journals - written - this was in the days before we used online tools.  
  3. Indidual Learning Conferences combined with journals - usually between individual students and me.
The easiest part of this was choosing the most powerful one and it stands out a mile..

I've been blogging now for around 7 years - both for my own self-reflections and for student-reflection.  It really is one of the most powerful tools I've ever used for changing practice, being clear about the what, why and how of my practice and when applied to student learning it helps them to become reflective as well.  The impact on student achievement and parent engagement is incredibly powerful.  It is crucial that the skills of giving feedback, knowing what makes an effective blog and blog post, etc are carefully taught to the students in the beginning.  The importance of digital citizenship can't be underestimated when blogging.  Respect for others' ideas and opinions must be valued and emphasised at all times as must knowing your audience.

Blogging continues to be one of my most powerful tools - not just for self-reflection but also for writing.  It provides a real and relevant audience for the writers with the chance of receiving feedback to improve learning and achievement.

For reasons why we blog which some of my younger students wrote please read Room 14 Learning Journeys - this is my old classroom blog but it still has many great resources on it.  

Blogging gives everyone a voice - no matter what their ability - and it's particularly good for quieter students who may be reluctant to speak up in class or who may take longer to consider their thoughts and ideas.

Blogging teaches students - and teachers - how to give constructive feedback but we need to teach the skills first.  Students and teachers need to know and understand how to coach and what effective feedback is.


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