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A-REEF: Reflection

Module by: Fred Mednick. E-mail the author

Figure 1: Reflection reinforces learning
Reflection
Reflection (upsidedowntree.jpg)

A Teacher's Story

If we think about assessment as casting a net into fertile waters, reflection is about looking at what we have gathered and letting it guide us for "what's next" in our work with our students.

The best way to illustrate this is with A Teacher's Story:

An Example of Assessment and Reflection in Action

A fourth-grade teacher gave an end-of-the-year math test to her fourth-grade students (she cast the net). That same teacher then pulled the net in and collated the information into a meaningful format so that the fifth-grade teacher who would teach these students in the fifth-grade year could learn from what the fourth-grade teacher had gathered.

Click on the file below to see what was "gathered":

[INSERT documents here. A Teacher's Story: Math Assessment and Reflection.]

By looking at and reflecting upon the information gathered by the fourth-grade teacher (what questions students got correct and what questions they got wrong) the fifth-grade teacher could see individual student's strengths and weaknesses, and group strengths and areas the group needed to work on. The information gathered showed the fifth-grade teacher what to focus upon in the fifth-grade math program right from the start of the fifth-grade year.

Assignment 5: Reflecting on What's Gathered

Assignment 5: Reflecting on What's Gathered

HOW TO GET TO ASSIGNMENT 5:

One Way

To do this assignment, click on the link in color at the top of the page. When it appears, press "Save" and name the file so that you can work on this assignment "off-line." You can type right on the assignment template. Be sure to save your assignment on a disk or on your computer hard drive.

Another Way

You can also copy the text below, and save it to your disk or computer.

GOAL: To experience how assessment information coupled with R eflection can inform "what's next" in classroom instruction.

GIVE: Feedback to others on their assignments at the TWB Learning Cafe.

Assignment 5: Reflecting on What's Gathered

  1. Pretend that you are the fifth-grade teacher about to receive new students into your class. It's the beginning of the school year and you have just received the assessment documents (from the previous page) from the fourth-grade teacher along with the actual, end-of-the-fourth-grade-year math test. List 5 things you notice about the information that was gathered.
  2. What might you focus on in math in the fifth-grade year knowing what you know about how the students did as a class and as individuals on the end-of-the-fourth-grade-year math assessment? Why? (1-2 paragraphs)

How Assessment and Reflection Informs Practice

By processing the information gathered by the fourth-grade teacher, the fifth-grade teacher could see how to help certain students and in what areas because the fifth-grade teacher not only had the assessment results, but the original test as well. The fifth-grade teacher could also see that as a whole, the class was strong in computation skills, but that they could use more practice with word problems involving math.

The fifth-grade teacher at this school did, in fact, create math curriculum and lesson plans right from the start of the year to address the students' strengths and needs. The fifth-grade teacher reinforced computation skills, briefly, and then quickly exposed her new fifth-grade students to "problem-solving" experiences in math involving "real-life" activities and math-based word problems.

This Teacher's Story is an example of how an end-of-the-year math assessment helped another colleague to shape curriculum and focus lesson plans to meet the strengths and needs of the students. This can be done throughout the school year: Casting the net to gather information; reflecting upon the information gathered and letting it inform your curriculum.

Helping Students Reflect

Research in recent years has shown that learning improves significantly if students are able to think about their thinking, or, in other words, learn about their learning. Assessment methods that inspire this kind activity result in consistently higher performance.

Here are some examples of how to help students reflect upon their own process of learning:

  1. Before turning in a paper or a project, ask students to reflect upon the process of doing the paper or project. Have students submit their reflection in written form along with their project.
  2. After a Cooperative Learning, activity ask students to answer the following questions: 1) What did you notice about your participation in the cooperative learning group? 2) What did you notice about how your group worked together?
  3. Once students have taken a math test, let them grade their own tests with an answer key. Have them reflect upon the types of problems they got right and the types of problems they got wrong. Ask them to write "Math Notes" in their math journal: acknowledging the types of problems they know how to do and encourageing themselves or making note of what they need to work on.
  4. Invite students to participate in the making of a rubric (guidelines); then have them evaluate themselves once the paper or project is ready to be turned; ask them to provide evidence or support for the scores they give themselves. As part of the rubric, ask them to reflect upon their learning. (Do not grade content of the reflection, rather depth of analysis.)
  5. Student self-evaluations encourage self-reflection and better learning for students. They can encompass a variety of formats. The content of self-evaluations should never be graded. However, there is a kind of evaluation that can be graded for depth of analysis - i.e., how seriously did you take this task? Did you attempt to understand your own thinking and writing processes? Were you able to contextualize your own acts as a writer and thinker within course themes? The grade is for the application of insight and course themes to his/her own practice.

Assignment 6: Helping Students Reflect

Assignment 6: Helping Students Reflect

HOW TO GET TO ASSIGNMENT 6:

One Way

To do this assignment, click on the link in color at the top of the page. When it appears, press "Save" and name the file so that you can work on this assignment "off-line." You can type right on the assignment template. Be sure to save your assignment on a disk or on your computer hard drive.

Another Way

You can also copy the text below, and save it to your disk or computer.

GOAL: To develop new ways in which you can help your students reflect upon the process of their own learning.

GIVE: Feedback to others on their assignments at the TWB Learning Cafe.

Assignment 6: Helping Students Reflect

  1. List 3 things you have done in your classroom practice to help your students reflect upon their own process of learning.
  2. Next to each of the 3 things you listed in #1, add a sentence describing it further.
  3. Think about an upcoming lesson or unit you need to teach in the next few weeks (i.e. "Nutrition"). Name that unit below:
  4. List and describe 3 opportunities you might give your students to reflect upon their own learning during, and/or after the instruction.
  5. Describe 1 new opportunity for student reflection you can do that you have not tried before.

Appreciative Inquiry as Group Assessment and Reflection

Appreciative Inquiry is a process by which students can reflect upon a situtation, their learning, or group dynamics in a way that takes stock of all of the assets and positives of a situation. In the sense that students are gathering information, Appreciative Inquiry can be considered a form of group assessment.

After students have "cast their group net" (through the Appreciative Inquiry process), together, they look to see what they have gathered. Then, they take the next step: they reflect upon what they have gathered and use it to inform their learning and future actions.

Here's an Example of How it Works:

  1. Pose a question such as: "What is an example of an effective team experince you have had either in or outside of school?"
  2. Students tell their "peak" team experience stories.
  3. Ask the students what these stories have in common; what qualitites made each of these teams successful or effective?
  4. From these qualities and stories a rich metaphorical image might arise. You might even help students to "see" the metaphorical image such as, "I think the way we're describing our peak team experiences is like a grove of aspen trees. The trees look like distinct units, but really underground their roots are interconnected and the grove is really one living organism." From there you could talk about the strengths that each student brings to your learning environment that effects the whole. Take inventory of these strengths. List them on the board.
  5. Whenever students need to work out a challenge or reflect on how they best learn as a group, they can use the "aspen grove" metaphor (or whatever metaphor arose) and apply it to the new learning moment at hand.

A Net Full of Assests

We often begin by asking "What's the probem?" When you do that, you focus energy on what we want less of and work to "fix" things. Appreciative Inquiry is about focusing on what you want more of; knowing that what you want more of already exists; and amplifying what strengths and assests a group already has.

With Appreciative Inquiry students are heard, seen, and appreciated. It also enables students to be active participants in the thinking process and encourages them to amplify what strengths or qualities they already possess towards their learning or class environment.

Suggested Readings: (Online Only)

What is Appreciative Inquiry - A consultant gives a clear introduction to what it is.

Case Western Reserve University - One school's use of Appreciative Inquiry.

Appreciative Inquiry Commons- A place to learn more about Appreciatie Inquiry and to connect with others who practice it.

TALK AT THE TWB LEARNING CAFE:

How might you apply Appreciative Learning to your classroom experience? Read what others have said. Add your thoughts. Join your global colleagues in conversation at the TWB Learning Cafe.

HOW TO GET TO THE NEXT MODULE:

Usually, you just click "Next" to go to the next page. When you finish a section, however, (as you're about to do when you finish reading these two paragraphs), you need to click on the "Outline" button, which is on the bottom, right-hand side of the page. Look underneath the blue bar and click on the word "Outline."

When you click on "Outline," a screen will come up that will show you the outline for Course 3. Look for the next section to read and click on the first topic in that next section. For example, when you get to the outline now, look under the next section called "A-REEF: Evaluation" and look for the first topic in black lettering called "Overview." Click on "Overview."

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