Reflection activities to increase learning awareness
Do you recognize that moment at the end of a lesson: you want to make sure everyone knows what you did by doing reflection activities, but you simply forget the time and the bell tells you you're too late.
With the reflection activities mentioned in this blog post I hope to help you achieve an increase in learning awareness of your students. In other words: they know what they have learned and understand their growth.
Estimated time to read this article: 5 minutes
What you can do with those previous last minutes of a lesson.
Time waits for no one, and especially not for those who want to take the time to make students aware of their learning. By asking reflection questions (preferably linked to lesson objectives) students are more aware of their learning and their motivation increases.
Or at least in my experience.
Despite the importance, my 'end of a lesson' is quite often limited to looking back at the lesson objectives and checking with a few students if they indeed understand.
Not a bad way to do this, and obviously better than doing nothing, but I wanted to do something else. Below you can find the reflection activities I do in my lesson to engage students with language as well as the content.
1. Guess the word
Although I already know the 'guess the word' game, a colleague of mine recently mentioned how it can be used as a reflection activity.
One student needs to stand in front of the class and the teacher writes down an important phrases studied during that lesson.
The other students get turns to explain to the student in front of the class what the phrase is, and once it is guessed correctly another student takes his or her place.
To make this even more student focused, you can ask other students to come up with phrases as well.
Another way to make sure all students are participating (and not just the ones who raise their hands) is to ask students to write down a description in their notebooks first, before they share them.
A simple, engaging and fun activity, that actually involves a lot of subject specific content.
2. "Tweet" or limit words
Asking students 'please write down what you learned this lesson" is an okay way of getting students to look at their own progress.
If you try to spice things up a little, simply set some limitations.
"Write down what you learned in a tweet of a maximum of 140 signs" can be an interesting way to make students more aware of their use of words.
Or, to make it even more challenge: "Use exactly 15 words to describe what you learned this lesson"
Use exactly 15 words to describe what you learned this lesson
3. What did we do + Create a sentence
As I try out new things, I try to combine "well known" CLIL activities and make them into new ones.
One thing I recently did was a combination of two activities: "What did we do" and "Create a sentence".
First, I asked students to mention the most important words that were important this lesson.
I wrote down all of the words and created a brainstorm of sorts.
Then I ask my students to formulate a sentence in which they had to use at least two of these words.
Obviously, you can limit the options or choose some words yourself, if you want to
As I just said, you can ask students to describe in their own words what they have learned.
But not all (teenage) students are quite capable of doing this. When having to write down things in a second language is a challenge, reflecting upon their own learning AND having to do this in a second language can seem impossible to some!
When the language can be a problem, simply remove this problem by scaffolding students.
The first time you do this reflection activity, ask students to copy and finish the sentence: "The most important thing I learned in this lesson was ...."
That way, the structure of the sentence makes sense. Next time you ask students to write a reflection, you simply refer to the structure you put in place before.
Key Take Away
Scaffolding the reflection questions can be done easily by giving example sentences to complete. At a later stage, students will be able to come up with these sentences on their own.
Reflection questions using Bloom
If you want to make this a little bit more challenging, you can think about implementing Bloom's taxonomy.
For each stage of Bloom's taxonomy, think of an appropriate question.
This also clarifies why "what can I do better" might be a bit of a tricky question to ask at first, as this is already a higher level of Bloom's taxonomy.
What did I learn?
What is important about what we did?
How can I apply this in a new situation?
Are there patterns I recognize?
How well did I do? How can I improve? Want when well?
How can I use this in a new situation in the future?
With these three reflection activities you should be able to finish your lessons with an increased learning awareness, without having to come up with all kinds of preparations for your lesson.
Enjoy and let me know what you think!
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