Student reflections: what do I really know?

My focus this year has been around student self-reflection to direct their personalized learning in my classes. My goal is to have students move away from a focus solely on the final answer to assess what they know but more on the process of solving a mathematical question.

At the last F2F session, I was able to gain some clarity on my action plan and felt I was able to more clearly articulate what was the root of my concern in my classroom. Walking away from that day, my driving question remains "HMW have students reflect on their learning in a lesson to help personalized their next steps?".

My hope is to take students from confusion about what to do or what knowledge to choose:
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to confidence in their ability:
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This year, I have ended lessons with students generating a "I can ..." list to identify the skills covered in the lesson. Essentially, students were identifying the success criteria of the lesson. This was a good first step, in my mind, but my students just saw it more as a thing that we did and not as part of the learning cycle. My vision was that students would use these statements as self check-ins to assess what they knew in the unit and what they still needed to master.

To help with this shift, I have started asking students to write out all the "I can..." statements from the unit on a separate sheet of paper and hand it in on test day. Here is an example of one student's work:

What stood out to me were the * and check marks beside some of the statements. This student was already self-reflecting and identifying what they knew and what they still had to work on. Unfortunately, this was the only one like this. All the other submissions were just a list of statements. But I was not deterred, I believe I am on the right track.

We are now into the third unit of the course and though we continue to end lessons with "I can ..." statements, I did not ask students to write them out on a separate sheet to submit. However, an interesting thing happened in our review class. As students were working away, I overheard a conversation about a student sharing her "checklist" for the unit that she created with her friends. Her peers wanted a copy of this magical checklist and I had to chuckle. I did have to mention to that group that this wasn't a new concept and they had done this in previous units but I had called it an "I can..." list. It was great to see the students make the realization of the value of this list.
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Things that I am considering as next steps:
- creating the "I can..." list and having students self-assess their ability pre-test and then again post-test with some sort of reflection
- have students use their Unit 1 and Unit 2 "I can..." lists and their tests to reflect and set up next steps to further improve their knowledge before the final exam.
- connect these "I can..." statements to the work we continue to do at the white boards.

And so the journey continues...

6 thoughts on “Student reflections: what do I really know?

  1. Hi Jen,

    It sounds like you are growing a great batch of reflective learners here. Congratulations! Do you think it makes a difference whether you share the "I can..." checklists via paper vs. via something like a Google Form? Could tense be a factor, "I can..." at the start vs. "I did..." at the end of the unit? Thanks for some new ideas to foster reflection in learners!

  2. Hi Jen,

    I think we can all agree that the cognitive load required for really effective reflection is something that we all have to work on, make time for, and find value in. You are definitely on the right track. Every time you are doing this, you are asking students to flex these cognitive muscles, showing students that you value this here and in your own life, and ultimately that this is one of the best learning processes that they can access to help them on things like tests, relationships and learning in a host of other realms.

    I think that your idea of getting students to link their reflections to their assessment is a good step to explore further. I used to have students write out, at the top of their tests 3 things that they were grateful for. This was part of an on-going initiative that I was pursuing so it was linked to a larger conversation about all the "other" skills required to succeed in tests. It isn't just about what you know, it is about HOW you know it. Also, I used to have a simple check-list at the end of the test asking them questions like:
    - Did I study effectively for this assessment (likert scale out of 5)
    - If so, how...
    - If not, what is one thing you will do differently...
    - If you were doing something differently for this test, do you think it worked...
    - What is your estimated result for this test...
    - Why is this your estimate...

    This shows them that I value these questions because they are literally taking up space on the assessment. I give them feedback on these answers as well - either written or in follow up conversations. I hope that these give you some ideas of how to explore further.

    Currently, following our Day 9 experiential learning days, there is precious little time to get feedback, but I've tried to add this in where I can. I'm going to write a post on this, having been inspired by your post here. Thanks for the inspiration!

    I hope that you are taking some time to reflect over this March break too!
    Garth.

  3. I love this idea - could you incorporate a question such as "something I learned in this unit that was not assessed on this test....."? I've done this on all my exams (a teacher I had in high school did it) and awarded a set amount of points based on the quality of our answers. Perhaps this could be the step they need to see the demonstration of their learning in the same type of free flow as the lists they are creating?

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