I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Reflection is Vital

When done right, reflection can make ourselves see the good, the bad, and the ugly. I get that. I try to reflect by way of this blog. How often, however, do I give my students time to reflect? Not enough.

I try to mix things up - I don't like to give the same reflection more than two weeks in a row, or students will just fill it out quickly without much thought. Sometimes we do "thumbs up, sideways or down," sometimes it's sticky notes on a graph, sometimes it's smiley, straight and frowny faces, sometimes it's "Hold your hand up - how much effort out of 5 did you put in today?" Last night I came up with yet another one for this week's genius hour (which was today). We'd pitched our ideas for fourth quarter two weeks ago, and I wanted students to get moving, as we only have seven or so more days worth of work in class.

Today I gave this 1/2 sheet to students - the front half was to reflect on what they've accomplished so far towards their fourth quarter genius hour project.
This was to be used as a guide - so students were focused today on one thing they had written down as a plan.

With the last five minutes of class available, I asked the to use the back of the sheet to reflect on their progress for today.

The last line was added last night as I was putting together this 1/2 sheet for students. I needed just one more thought. It turned out to be the line that gave me the most information about each student's progress. "I feel ______ about my genius hour project because ___________."

Here are those seventh graders that feel "good," because...
     "I have a good start."
     "It's coming along."
     "I'm sure about what I'm doing."
     "I know what I need."
     "I like doing it and I'm doing well."
     "I'm making progress."
     "I'm planning it well."
     "It is fun."
     "It is a topic I like."
     "I enjoy my subject."
     "It's not that stressful right now."
     "I love what my project is on."

Some chose different adjectives that made ME feel good...
     "...excited...I think it could really help people."
     "...confident...I think it will be a unique and effective way to show what I learned."
     "...confident...I have a friend in Utah who is helping me..."
     "...confident...Other people will be able to get a strong message out of it."
     "...proud...I am accomplishing a lot so far."
     "...great...I get to do something without my mom's help." (cooking)

And some were red flags that will get more attention...

     "...bad...it seems boring."
     "...hopeful...It is very difficult to achieve."
     "...bored...I'm getting tired of my topic."
     "...uneasy...It's moving very slow."
     "...IDK...I kinda wanna do something else."

The last line was the most powerful for me. I hope it also got the students thinking, as reflection is meant to do.