Maximize Learner Reflection with These 12 Strategies

Learner reflection is an essential part of being a student. If we don’t spend time thinking about and processing new information and experiences, our brains won’t be able to store the information properly. This is why cramming and other study strategies like it don’t actually work. Below are 12 strategies for implementing learner reflection in the classroom.

1. Journaling is the classic mode of learner reflection, but it doesn’t have to be boring. Students could try keeping a personal journal where they can write freely and creatively about their experience. Responses could be in the form of reading responses, storytelling, poetry, drawings, and much more. A highlighted journal is another option. With this type of journaling, students reread personal entries and highlight sections of the journal that directly relate to concepts discussed in the text or in class.

2. Pair-sharing is a classic learning strategy where students are paired up to verbally ‘share’ something that will help them learn new content, deepen understanding, or review what they already know. It can also be used as a quick assessment tool, as the conversations generally reflect a level of understanding the teacher can use to evaluate learning.

3. Sentence starters are great tools to coach students into thinking and speaking in certain patterns. For example, you can implore students to think critically, but if they don’t have even the basic phrasing of critical thinking, the whole concept will be beyond their reach. Get students to use sentence starters like, “This is important because…”, “I predict that…”, or “I agree with…”, etc., and they will be well on their way to thinking critically.

Learner reflection4. Tweeting in only 140 characters forces students to reflect quickly and get to the point. Twitter is great for brief bursts of reflection, or hesitant writers who would struggle to write meaningful journal entries or essays. Start a class hashtag so that students can easily find and read posts from their fellow students.

5. The 3-2-1 method can be used both before and after learning. Before beginning a lesson, ask students to write 3 things they think they know, 2 things they know they don’t know, and 1 thing they’re certain of about a topic. After an assignment such as an essay, students can list 3 ways their work reflects mastery of a skill, 2 ways their skills still need improving, and 1 way they can strengthen their argument.

6. Exit slips or exit tickets ask students to briefly leave behind some residue of learning–a thought, a definition, a question, etc. Asking students to drop some bit of reflection of the learning process on a chair by the door on the way out is a no-brainer strategy.

7. Short write-ups are easy ways for students to write asynchronously and collaboratively. The writing fragments students use also don’t have to be prose–using bullet points with certain key vocabulary and phrases can help students reflect, but most importantly in a write-up, help students learn from one another.

8. Sketching allows students to draw what they think they know, how they believe their learning has changed, or some kind of metaphorical pathway towards deeper understanding. It is a great learning strategy for students that tend towards creative expression, and a non-threatening way for struggling students to at least get something down on paper.

9. Through podcasting as a reflection strategy, students will talk about their learning while recording themselves. If you have privacy concerns, this can be simply an audio file recorded and uploaded to a private YouTube channel that’s shared with teachers or parents. Vlogging is another option for this type of reflection.

10. Think of Prezi as a cross between a sketch, collage, and presentation. It is an engaging reflection tool that allows students to create an artifact of learning for their digital portfolios, but is probably best for larger projects rather than small class reflections.

11. Jigsawing is a grouping strategy where a larger task or concept is broken down into smaller pieces. Groups of students will each analyze a small puzzle piece, then share with the class to create the puzzle at large together. You can prompt students in groups to gather and share questions they havpe, and then choose one question that they weren’t able to answer among themselves with the whole class.

12. Brainstorming can be an effective reflection strategy because of its simplicity. Students can take an allotted time to write down everything they remember about a topic, or they could brainstorm questions they still have about things they’re confused or curious about. They could even brainstorm how what they learned connects with what they already know by creating a concept map.

Allison Green
Boston Tutoring Services

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