How to spark student reflection

Imagine are teaching a lesson, and an administrator walks in for a walkthru.  They roam the room for a bit and then kneel down and ask a student, "What is the objective for today?"  How does your student respond?  Are they able to verbally state what they are learning?  Was their response, "I don't know. This is just what my dear teacher told me to do."

Do you need a way for students to reflect on their learning? Is your district requiring students to explain the objective of the lesson?

If you answered yes to either question, I totally understand and am right there with ya!

In our district (and if I were a betting chick, I would say yours as well) they want students to verbally say what they are learning.  The goal is for them to state the objective.  In a perfect world, this would be easy breezy, but this isn't always the case.

I want more for my students than just stating an objective or reading it from a focus board.  More importantly, I want them to understand why they are learning it and how it will benefit them.  My hope is when asked, "why are you learning ________" they will have the ability to respond with more than "because my teacher told me to." (sound familiar?)

I have been tinkering with an idea for my students to reflect what they are learning and decided to create a learning response journal.  It needed to be an easy way for them to reflect on their learning. My goal is for them to see the value, and know how they will be able to apply the concept in their life (instead of the mentality of, "This is stupid.  I won't ever need to use this").

Time was a huge factor.  I knew it needed to be quick but also reflective.  Something else that was important was that I would be able to easily keep track of their reflections.  I'm not sure about you, but the last thing I needed was a bunch of loose papers to keep track of (or file).  Loose papers + out of place = me going bonkers ;)

With all of those ideas floating around in my head I decided to create a "Learning Detective Journal." The way the journal was designed, it gives students an opportunity to think about something they have learned that day (or for the week if you choose) and complete the sentence stems.

The beauty of this, is they get to pick a concept they have learned.  It is in their "ballpark," and are taking responsibility for own reflections.  The thinking stems allow students to say what they learned, why it is important, and how it will help them.

My goal is for them to reflect on their learning on a deeper level.  I want the responses to be more than, "I am learning about apples."

It will take a little brain stretching for them to think in this manner but I believe it will be a huge benefit in giving them time and the ability to reflect on their learning at a deeper level.  I will keep all of you posted on our reflectional journey!

Don't forget to grab your own copy of Learning Detective Journal HERE

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