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Student Reflection Classroom Activities to Try

Janelle Cox

The ability to learn from your mistakes is an essential skill that students must have. It’s so important that students are able to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, having that ability can make all difference between success and failure both in and outside of the classroom. Here are a few classroom activities to help increase student reflection.

Reflective Sketches Classroom Activities

A fun and unique way to increase student reflection in the classroom is to have students do a sketch reflection. A sketch reflection is just a picture that represents what they’ve just learned. For the students that aren’t so keen about drawing, you can assure them that the sketch isn’t about the quality of the picture, it’s about their interpretation of what they learned. The goal of this activity is to give students a different perspective of what they learned. A great example of a reflective sketch is to have students draw what they learned after a science experiment. One student may draw the beaker while another may draw a different structure they used. The goal is to create a unique sketch that reflect the individuals perspective of what was learned. You can also encourage students to jot down a few words under the sketch to describe what they’ve drawn in their reflection. This can help those viewing the sketch to understand the picture better.

Exit Slips

Exit slips are designed to collect feedback about a lesson from students. They’re meant to check for student understanding at the end of class. They are also helpful in prompting students to fuse the information learned in class. An example of an exit slip is to ask a student to summarize the key points of the lesson. Teachers use exit slips for many reasons usually to verify that students can solve a problem, or allow students to ask any questions they may have about what they just learned. They’re also used to see if students can apply the content just learned in a new way, to have students demonstrate what they just learned, or in this case, to reflect upon what they learned. Teachers love them because they are quick and easy, and they can give them to students right before they leave class.

Videos

Using videos is another great way to increase student reflection. Video reflection allows students to see themselves through a fresh perspective. By watching themselves on video, students are able to have an incredible insight into their learning progress. It’s also a great way for students to see themselves as their peers and teacher sees them. Whether you’re looking for students to reflect upon a presentation, performance or another skill, reflection videos are an effective tool to use.

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When recording, whether it’s on your iPhone, tablet, or video camera, be sure to make sure the device that you use is easily accessible for playback on a larger screen as well as a smaller one. This way the whole class can watch the videos together or if students like, they can watch them individually.

Sticky Notes

Using sticky notes is a great way to make “Thinking” visible. By using sticky notes to write self-reflections, Individual thinking can be shared among the students. A great example of this activity comes from a 4th-grade classroom. Once a week, students would write down one reflection they had about the week on a sticky note. They would then stick their reflection statement on the wall somewhere (eye-level) in the classroom. Students would then do a gallery walk where they explore the reflections that were placed around the classroom. Once students had the chance to view the student reflections, as a class, debrief what they’ve learned.

Discuss Growth Mindset

The only way that reflection will actually work with a student is when they believe that they can grow and change with hard work. When students have a fixed mindset, they believe that their skills and abilities are inherited and therefore can’t change. In order for students to truly grow from self-reflection then they must have a growth mindset where they believe that the activities they are doing will help them get better results in the end.

To help students understand this theory that was first introduced by psychologist Carol Deweck, you can show students examples of Olympians that worked hard and persevered, or have students recall a time in their life when they succeeded because they didn’t give up. By helping students understand this concept, you are helping them to cultivate their abilities both inside and outside of the classroom.

Journals, reflective essays, student portfolios, sharing with peers or parents, reflection games, or class discussions are a few more great activities to increase student reflection. There’s a saying that goes, “The power of learning is in the action of doing.” It’s clear that self-reflection provides the same power for students, but through the action of their thoughts. Take time to have students reflect, and you’ll see how successful they’ll become both in school as well as out.

What are your favorite reflection activities to do with students? Please share your thoughts and ideas on this topic in the comment section below, we’d love to hear what you have to say.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.