Month: November 2017

Making Reflection Meaningful

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student meaningful reflection  Larissa Pahomov, author of the book Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students Through Inquiry, provides the following guidelines for helping ensure that reflection is meaningful and leads to successful outcomes (114-123):

  1. Put reflection first. Reflection first involves thinking about the content and establishing goals for the activity or project to be undertaken. This enables students to individualize their learning, even if that learning takes place in a collaborative setting.
  2. De-emphasize grades. Help students focus on the learning they are undertaking. Provide students with qualitative feedback that focuses on progress toward standards. Give students the opportunity to think about their performance without asking them to grade themselves.
  3. Integrate student and teacher reflection. Model the reflective process for students. Reflect with students. Give students the opportunity to view their reflections side-by-side with teacher reflections. These types of activities will desegregate the reflection process and yield tremendous growth in both the student and teacher.
  4. Let reflection accumulate. Incorporate portfolio or journal processes into projects. Encourage students to archive reflective artifacts.

Within a culture of reflection, students have the opportunity to better understand themselves and the content they study. Try to incorporate opportunities for reflection within your classroom projects. You will find that the students engage content in meaningful ways and learn much.

Meaningful Reflection in the Inquiry Process

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reflection photoI am a student of reflection and believe in its power to inform and guide toward increased performance. Larissa Pahomov, author of the book Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students Through Inquiry, promotes reflection in the inquiry process. She indicates that meaningful reflection (pp. 108-113) should:

  1. Reflection should give students the opportunity to think about their thinking. Could this be better? How? What steps should I take? These types of questions help students better understand the thought processes that led them to their final outcomes and help them better prepare for future endeavors.
  2. Reflection should give the students the opportunity to think about what they are doing and apply the thoughts to the final product during the process of producing the product. I think of this in a similar fashion to formative assessment – when we test to see how students understand the content and adjust instruction according to the outcome of the assessment. I suppose I would term this formative reflection.
  3. Reflection is often viewed as a solitary act – an individual alone with his/her thoughts. The real power of reflection is revealed through sharing with another person, one who can help sort out the thoughts. In the classroom, students can think about what they have learned, what they would do differently, and share that information with one another. This leads to dialogue and further engagement in the content.

Are you creating opportunities for students to reflect on their learning processes and products? I believe if you build reflection into your classroom plans, students will engage at deeper levels and genuinely learn the content delivered.

Five Recommendations Regarding Student Presentations

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student presentation pictureLarissa Pahomov, author of the book Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students Through Inquiry, indicates that the following components be part of the student classroom presentation framework (pp. 90-102):

  1. Acknowledge two stages of presentation: Product and delivery. Teach students to prepare the best quality product by having students draft their work, receive feedback from peers, and adjust accordingly. Teachers should also provide feedback on the draft product. Allow students to develop an assessment rubric for both the product and the delivery. Give students ample opportunity to deliver the presentation in a peer-reviewed setting.
  2. Let students pick the medium. Giving students a choice in the medium to be used will help them further invest in the content preparation and delivery process. They will engage in content in meaningful ways.
  3. Let the presentation influence the outcome. Again, involve peers in the review and assessment process. The author suggests the use of a game show motif in which students ultimately choose to award “Best Of Show” prizes for a variety of pre-selected components.
  4. Present beyond the school walls. Publish the presentation on a website or blog. Post videos of presentations. This will allow students to access the content outside of the classroom.
  5. Practice on the micro level. The author suggests employing “think, pair, share” sessions, speed lessons, and micro-presentations throughout the regular classroom routine to help students prepare for the full presentations.

Apply this framework to your classroom presentations. Students will be fully engaged in content and will learn much!!

Three Components of Successful Classroom Presentations

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student science fair picIt is important that students have the opportunity to present the findings of their inquiry. Larissa Pahomov, author of the book Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students Through Inquiry, indicates that all successful classroom presentations (pp. 86-90) are:

  1. Flexible. A presentation does not just involve an individual standing at the front of the room speaking. A presentation can take on many forms – speaking, singing, and creating – and can incorporate a variety of mediums – pictures, movies, songs, and other artifacts. Students need to have the flexibility to choose the method and medium with which they are most comfortable presenting information to others.
  2. Shareable. The presentation and the product thereof should be available to students after its completion, so that the content remains accessible for all students.       Handouts, electronic discussion boards, and video can be made available to students, so they continue to learn from the work of their peers.
  3. Interactive. Students who are receiving the information from a peer presentation need to have some vested interest in the presentation. This can be achieved by having students assess the work they are receiving or by having students provide opportunities to improve upon/add to the presentation.

In our classrooms, students have been enjoying the opportunity to collaborate and practice inquiry. Help your students plan for flexible, shareable, and interactive presentations about what they are learning. They will engage in content in meaningful ways and enjoy the process. You will, too.