One of my close friends and mentors carries a journal everywhere. It is a way to keep track of what she is experiencing in life, what brings her joy and what ideas she is contemplating. It is also a way to look back and see her personal growth. She consistently uses reflection to assess her life and progression towards goals. We all do that. Maybe not in a journal; instead over dinner with friends or in a conversation with our spouse. Somewhere along the way, we realized how helpful reflecting could be. Do you help students to create time and space for thinking about learning that has occurred? Do you utilize reflection as assessment?
Recently, Bob Lenz wrote about reflection as “an intentional, critical component of learning that gives each student an opportunity to tell a story about what he or she has learned. More often than not, telling that story is the moment when the learning takes hold”. Let’s get to more of those “moments” and use them to help students see value in the progress.
There are many ways to use reflection for assessment of student learning. So many, in fact, that the list could go on forever. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Track daily goals, accomplishments and next steps in a project binder. Here is a document that I’ve used before, but you could spin it to make sense in your classroom. You could also use this weekly reflection from Leaders of Their Own Learning.
- Ask students questions throughout a project to see if they are on the right track. Here are a few to get you started:
-What should we be able to do, once we’ve learned this?
-How should we show what we’ve learned?
-What would it look like if we almost learned it, but not quite?
-What might it look like if we learned more than we expected?
- Use a simple exit ticket focused on reflection of daily/weekly learning. Sentence stems like “One Need to Know I found an answer to this week was…” or “I used to think… but now I think…”
- Set up a “reflection” area in the classroom that includes a way to record students via video or audio. (Think “Real World” confessionals) Include a few stems that will get students started and see what they create.
In The Role of Assessment in a Learning Culture, Lorrie Shepard reminds us that “our aim should be to change our cultural practices so that students and teachers look to assessment as a source of insight and help instead of an occasion for meting out rewards and punishments.” As the inevitable standardized assessments occur, my hope is that you see benefit in a different way of preparing and assessing students and that the methods above prove helpful in identification of student needs in your classrooms.
Jodi Posadas is the Elementary Coach for New Tech Network.