1 Apr 2016

Teaching Self Reflection

I have been developing the teaching of reflection for several years now and I want to share what I have learnt.

I teach year 9 boys (13-14 yr olds) at a boys boarding school.  I use reflection a lot in the social studies classes which I plan.

I use three questions.

What did I do?

This is a recounting of what happened.

What did I learn?

This is the next level of thinking and can be technical or deep learning.

How can I apply this learning to life or a new situation?

This is the hardest and most useful question.  It is important to try and make the transfer of learning out of class into other areas of life making the learning more real and authentic.

Here is the gold.

Technical Learning

This is learning that is related to the activity, task, or experience.  For example if the activity were paintball then the technical learning would be how to shoot and load the gun, how to score point, how to aim, the rules etc.  This learning is useful for doing the same activity in the future and it is difficult to transfer this to other areas of your life.

Deep Learning 

This is learning that can be related to the activity and other areas of life easily.  For example with paintball this could be, strategising, prioritising, communication, cooperation, trust, loyalty etc.

This separation of two types of learning has helped my students to go deeper than just what they are seeing in an activity and it gives them really good foundation for the third question of how they will apply learning from an experience into real life.

Taking it to the Next Level

Title Vs What I learnt

The best way to get solid reflections on learning is to get them to go beyond labelling their learning with buzzwords eg, I learnt about, teamwork, communication, cooperation, trust etc.  Ask them to write down this as the label or title and then explain what they learnt about that.  That title on its own is not what they learnt it is only what they learnt about.

I learnt about citizenship (title)
What I learnt about citizenship is...(What I learnt about citizenship)

Significant and Now

It is easy for students, when thinking about applying learning, to make generalisations.  Things like I can use this learning in the future when I interact with people, when I get a job, when I take my exams in Year 13.

To get this part really meaty and juicy they need to do two things.
Now: Find a situation that is happening in their life right now that they can apply the learning to it.
Be specific: Narrow it down to an exact situation, the people involved the task or scenario where this learning could help.


This example reflection has some great unpacking of the learning titles and while being great thoughts could still use some work on being specific and now for the applying to life.

What happened?  This social studies we directed our focuses elsewhere and headed more for self directed learning where we learn whatever we want, the only restrictions being time and recourses. Other than that we were free to go bearing in mind we were trying to learn to be responsible informed critical and active citizens. We as a class started playing Minecraft sure enough we weren't any of these things and started of killing each other and there was no real structure to what we were doing. I certainly started to get frustrated and so did other class mates, this is were we started to learn that maybe we should tone things down or try something differently. But of course people have different opinions and would rather continue this behaviour. In saying that this there were some that were open to change, but in the end it got better but still wasn't the greatest civilisation in the world. But we can take that and say what could we have done. Learn to become more open minded to others ideas and become that citizen we had to become this term  
What did I learn?  Leading on from that I feel as though the importance of cooperation understanding and sticking to strong moral values in life can get you through a lot even if it's in a game. I learnt that my feelings are just the same as everybody else's and that no singular person on earth is anymore important. For example Barack Obama is just the same as a hungry kid in poverty, we are all humans we are all part of one society and we're all living life. Things that you say or do can affect people in good or bad ways, especially if we continue to say these things. I learnt this from Minecraft when everybody was fighting and trying to make a one high power. 
How can I apply this to future?  Use these good moral values and citizenship to make a difference in other people's life so they can see what real kindness and generosity is and then share that with other people, so that we can all be good citizens and no it's not possible to stop all war and fighting but we can decrease it. It's simple as be kind to one another treat people with respect and honesty and you will get this back. Use common sense think before you rush into something that may have negative outcomes.

Example of a reflection with only the titles of learning and general applying to his life.

What happened? -We first started off doing Rubrics. We did rubrics on fixed and growth mindset, we also did what it means to be a good citizen and about citizenship. He told us that there are 4 main parts to citizenship. Responsible, informed, critical and active. I am now doing the STL. I am doing Redstone on mine craft I have done 3 Redstone builds and am on to the 4th.   
What did I learn? I learnt the 4 main ways of how to be a good citizen, how to make a good rubric and how to organise people into groups to do certain activities. Also it is always good to be trustworthy of your mates because everything is about trust. I also learnt about hacker mindset and what values it can have like in every day life e.g. There was a photo of a guy who put two bowls in a microwave and it can only fit one. He did it by putting a cup next to it then another bowl on top, so you could cook two noodles and a cup of soup all in on time.   
How can I apply this in the future? I can apply this in the future by using citizen ship skills in everyday life like being responsible for myself, things that are not mine and other people being active in relationships between each other. I can use a hacker mind set in the future when I have my own house I can use a microwave in 3 ways and use a post it note to clean my keyboard. 

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