How to Teach Students to be Reflective Learners

These days, reflection doesn’t seem to be a popular activity. At the rate things change, it can sometimes seem pointless to look back because there’s a constant need, instead, to look forward so you don’t fall behind. But the power of reflection hasn’t gone away. And the impact it can have on the future of students is priceless.

Here are a few ways to ensure the use of technology in the classroom doesn’t distract from students taking ample time to think back and reflect.

blue one smallPeer Feedback
Students most often are used to getting feedback from their teachers—it’s expected, but not always acknowledged. Additionally, students tend to see their peers in a different light than their instructors, and incorporating peer feedback can help students become more reflective from both sides.

Peer feedback encourages students to do critical thinking when giving feedback to other students; but more importantly, because they know their peers will judge them, students will also be more reflective when completing their assignments. Typically, peer feedback is limited to English and Language Arts classrooms where students provide peer reviews of written work. Math and Science teachers can also incorporate a structure for peer feedback by encouraging students to give feedback to their peers on the processes for completing a math problem or a science experiment.

green 2 smallStudent Blogging
Another great way to encourage reflection is through blogging. Very similar to journaling, which might be considered outdated, blogging provides an outlet for students to document their progress. Blogs allow them to discover things about themselves that may not have surfaced otherwise.

For reflection purposes, you might consider allowing students to keep their blog private so they more freely express their thoughts. A great element of private blogs is that students can go back in time and see their progress. Set benchmarks for students to spend time looking over previous blog posts to assess their progress and growth. Try not to place a huge emphasis on correctness so students feel comfortable expressing themselves openly.

orange 3 smallVlogging
This word (and idea) has been around for a little while now, but it still sounds weird, right? Vlogging is very similar to blogging, but instead of writing students use video.

Use video blogs to spice things up a bit in the classroom. Have students start out by setting goals for themselves. From there, each time they record a new video, encourage them to reflect on where they are in reaching their goals and make adjustments as necessary. Vlogging will stimulate constant reflection each time they produce a new video. Once the semester is over, students can watch all of their videos back and record a final video reflecting on their growth over the semester.

Much of the focus for teachers today is on technology. And while technology is impactful for student engagement and retention, it’s important not to bypass the need for students to be reflective.