Reflection in the Learning Process, Not As An Add On

Is it personality? Are some people born with it? Can it be learned?

I am talking about REFLECTION.

At the beginning of the week, I had the opportunity to be part of a workshop during our pre-service ( we just returned from our summer break here in the Southern Hemisphere) with our ES Principal, MS Principal and HS Assistant Principal. The topic was  student reflection.

The following ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS emerged out of the planning for this workshop

  • How does student reflection impact student learning?
  • How can we embed reflection into assessment practices so that it is not seen as an add-on?
  • How can we make the reflection visible and sustainable?

According to Carol Rodgers in  Defining Reflection :Another Look at John Dewey and Reflective Thinking, four criteria emerge from Dewey’s work that characterize reflection.

  1. Reflection is a meaning making process that moves a learner from one experience into the next with deeper understanding of its relationships with and its connections to other experiences and ideas.

  2. Reflection is a systematic, rigorous way of thinking, with its roots in scientific inquiry.

  3. Reflection needs to happen in community, in interaction with others

  4. Reflection requires attitudes that value the personal and intellectual growth of oneself and others.

I know that most teachers acknowledge the role of reflection in learning. I see reflective practice when I visit classrooms, but I also acknowledge that most of that reflection seems to be in oral form. A form that allows the reflection to disappear, to evaporate after the moment has passed.  We wanted to make teachers aware of platforms and experiences that supported reflection in teaching and learning. After orally reflecting with students during a classroom conversation or possible silent ( intrapersonal ) reflection taking place by individual students, the next most used media and platform seemed to be text. Since we have a 1:1 laptop in High School and Middle School, most these types of reflective texts are written on Google Docs, Blogs or digital online sites. I wanted to move teachers’ focus beyond using text as the medium for reflection.


We notice when working with students that simply asking them to go ahead and write a reflection, might not be the best approach to be able to expect quality work. We initially introduced our workshop attendees to four frameworks for reflection.

  1. KWHLAQ chart
  2. See- Think- Wonder
  3. Think-Puzzle-Explore
  4. 3-2-1 Bridge


See a 5th grade sample of using the KWHLAQ reflection routine on a blog. The student’s teacher Paul Solarz is doing fantastic work on reflective eportfolios.


Leika Prokopiak’s 6th grade Science students,  here are Graded, are also experimenting with the KWHLAQ reflection routine on their student portfolios.

KWHLAQ-science \



After a visit from Libby Stephens, a speaker about the Third Culture Kid experiences, Ms Arcenas, had her 7th grade advisory students reflect, in writing on index cards. They used the See- Think- Wonder routine about their take away from the session with the speaker.



Claire Arcenas reflection on using 3-2-1- Bridge in her 10th grade PE class




After introducing the four above mentioned frameworks, we asked teachers to choose one article from five pre-selected ones and use one of the four thinking routine methods to guide their reflection of their chosen article.

  1. 35 Questions for Student Reflection by Mark Clements
  2. Creating a Culture of Student Reflection by Clyde Yoshida
  3. Four Levels of Student Reflection by Maryellen Weimer
  4. Reflect, Reflective, Reflection by Silvia Tolisano
  5. High Tech Reflection Strategies Making Learning Stick by Suzie Boss

We briefly shared further visible thinking routines with the attendees and made the application visible by sharing examples from the classroom with them.

Blog commenting as reflection.



Video as a media for capturing reflection

Around the World With 80 Schools- Helsinki from langwitches on Vimeo.

Kindergarten using Explain Everything app to explain Math Scenarios from langwitches on Vimeo.

Reflection via Infographics.


Collaborative reflection via Twitter Hashtag (Teacher Reflection)






Mindmapping as a platform for reflection (organization, grouping, color coding…)


Maps as a platform for raising awareness through visualization. Start tracking a the geographic setting of books read to see patterns and gaps emerge that were previously not noticed.


How do you reflect with your students? What are your thoughts on using visible thinking routines to give students a strategy? What platforms are you exploring? What types of reflective experiences are you facilitating for your students?