When to reflect?


The default reflection time is the end of the unit. With the test returned and corrections made, this seems like the obvious time to think about how things are going. 

I didn’t like the way that reflections ended up focusing so heavily on how the exam had gone and how students should ‘work harder’ or ‘study more’ to improve their grades. Whilst reflecting on revision strategies and examination technique is important, I also wanted my students to reflect on how they were feeling about science lessons and significant events in lessons (that weren’t exams!). 

Mixing up the timing allowed me to escape the “R-word” label. Here’s five timings that you might not have considered that are awesome for reflection.

1) At the start of a new unit

This works particularly well if you know it’s a unit that students have lots of negative preconceptions about. For chemistry this works amazingly with stoichiometry – having a conversation about the fear of blending chemistry and maths before they start the unit can really help them to think positively about the desired outcome of the unit.

2) Significant days

My personal favourite is the “you’ve survived 100days of ____ how’s it going?” reflections. You really don’t need to try too hard to find these, but they’re great to check in with how kids are feeling about stuff. 

3) Any time you get negative vibes

A 10 minute reflection can give the students a chance to gain some perspective on their learning and to discuss with others. If you get them to record these it can also give students a non-confrontational way to give you insight into what’s causing them issues.

4) After big collaboration work

Whether this be an experiment, a presentation or modelling task; thinking about the contributions they’ve made and how other members of their group would describe them can give another “non-exam” focus on reflection. 

5) At the end of the unit

I don’t want to veto these entirely but if you want students to reflect on the learning and not on the exam itself try experimenting with doing this after they’ve done the test rather than when they’ve seen their mistakes.

Are there any other times you’ve found reflection works really well?

Have you got any ways of reflecting after tests that forces the students to focus on learning?

3 thoughts on “When to reflect?

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