Reflecting on Reflections

The incorporation of blogging for my students has been one of the highlights of this semester. I love reading their thoughts on what they’ve learned not only in my class, but in their other classes as well. Their honesty about their struggles and victories has been quite enlightening.

My directions for the blogging assignment were pretty open-ended. I just wanted the students to think about their learning and experiences as a middle schooler. In order to differentiate for the varied interests and skills, I offered students the opportunity to complete the reflections alone or with a peer (or two!). They could have created a website, YouTube channel, or simply used Google Slides.

Besides getting a sneak peek into their thoughts, the reflections also gave me information on how to better support my students.

“In videos and slides can listen (keyword “listen”) to them very well”

~ Student

For example, the above quote from a student’s reflection was quite enlightening. I did not realize that they preferred audio over written or visual media. Because they wrote this (knowing that I would read it), I have already reached out to that student to let them know that our textbook has an online, audio component and that I would help them access this next week.

Little tidbits of information like this allow me to better support my students. It’s no secret that student’s basic needs must be met before they can move up on Maslow’s hierarchy.

These reflections, while it may seem like extra work for both the students and for me, help me to better support their social and emotional needs. In fact, many of my students have been quite transparent in their struggles with algebra. They mention the stress from their parents as well as the stress they put on themselves. This insight helps me when I interact with the students in class as I like to check in with these students.

These reflections also help me to adjust my teaching practices. Many students wrote that they were worried about the Sensory Figure: Samurai summative assessment. I didn’t think that the project was all that difficult, but to them it was quite stressful. In fact, one student wrote in their reflection…

Honestly, I’d rather take a unit test and digital notebook.

~ Student

This was news to me, because the unit test and digital notebook are both quite difficult as they require students to move through the various levels in order to get the grade they desire: Level 3 (C), Level 4 (B), and Level 5 (A).

Interesting, right?

As I reflect on the blogging/reflection assignment, I believe that this has been a positive experience for all. Students have a chance to reflect on their learning, strengths, areas in need of improvement and I get the opportunity to find ways to better support their academic and social/emotional needs in my class. It’s really a win-win situation.

I rolled this blogging/reflection assignment out to only one class this semester (my GATE/PreAP class) to see if this process was worth the effort. And I have to said that it was.

Next semester, I’m going to roll this out to all six classes of students. I will need to provide a bit more scaffolding for them, and I will take the lessons learned from this semester and apply them to my new group of students.

All-in-all, I’m very happy with this semester-long assignment. I think my students know themselves a bit better…and I certainly know more about them than I would have without this assignment.

It was an adventure worth taking.

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