Sunday, 3 November 2013

Getting reflections started

It can be a real battle to get students to reflect on their learning or on feedback given. Sometimes it's because they don't really know what to write, and other times I think it's because they don't know how to get started or how to form the sentence...

Give them something to start with
I've found fantastic responses when students are given the first part of a sentence to complete - it's like it just unlocks the door to reflection for them...

I put the following slide up on the screen and ask the students to pick 1 or 2 sentences to copy & complete. This could be done mid lesson or at the end. Sometimes I discuss the responses verbally with the students as part of the lesson, otherwise I use them as something to respond to and establish a dialogue with while marking books. Given these starting points I've found that the quality of responses is usually really good.
(A quick health warning here - the content of the picture is NOT mine originally. I picked it up somewhere on the web, liked it, tried it and found it to be really useful. However I've forgotten where I got it from originally. Based on the powerpoint file I believe it was put together by someone called Julia Fardy - thanks Julia! Really not looking to steal someone else's work here but it's so useful I want to share it! - if anyone wants to claim credit for this I'll happily reference properly...)

Progress tweets
Something else I've found useful is to ask students to "tweet me about their progress" - currently they don't do it actually on twitter, just write it in their books, but long term I'd like to think we can get to actual tweets.

The first time I ask a class to do this I usually have a prompt like this:

(This slide is mine but I'm sure others use progress tweets as a concept)

However they soon get used to it and now with my classes I can just say "do me a progress tweet" and they give me some useful feedback.

Interestingly the 140 character limit seems to spur them into actually writing more effectively than a basic "What went well". Again sometimes I will discuss them verbally, or use them as part of a dialogue in marking. It's also really nice when the students come up with a few #hastags that relate to the lesson or key words.

Instant plenaries
Both of these ideas can become instant reflective plenaries that can be bolted into a lesson with minimal planning. Particularly useful if a lesson has taken an unexpected turn off piste and your planned plenary wouldn't work any more.

Key point though - it's vital to show the students that you value their comments by discussing/responding to them - otherwise they'll stop putting any effort in and the comments stop being so valuable.

Give them a try - they're well worth a go.

All comments welcome as always.


  1. Liking the reflection prompts - thanks for sharing!

  2. Very welcome - thanks for the comments. :-)

  3. Hi Kev! You are very welcome - glad you find them useful. Have got lots of other metacognition tools also. Let me know if you'd like to try them out and I can point you in their direction. Glad to be of help. Julia

    1. AHH- is that powerpoint yours? Keen to see anything else you've got...

      Thanks for the comment...

    2. Yep - guilty as charged :-) ! Is it metacognition you are interested in or thinking skills in general? If metacognition, I have reflection triangles that I routinely use as well as question prompts. Drop me a line at and I'd be happy to e mail you them through. Cheers! Julia