Posted on October 28, 2012
Not to overdo my two prior blog postings on the topic of school as a cultural phenomenon and sustaining a culture of learning, I want to comment briefly on another important aspect of school culture, and that is developing a culture of reflection. For about 15 years prior to our new home at Mid-Pacific Institute, which makes nearly 25 years currently, children coming through the elementary have had many years of experience reflecting on their learning in all content areas, from kindergarten through fifth grade. Asking students to select pieces of classroom work, write about their learning processes, identify their strengths, and consider how to improve their learning is called metacognition -- thinking about their thinking. During the past week or so, students have been reflecting on their learning and documenting their metacognitive assessments in writing, speaking, or drawing. These episodes of reflection are collected and stored in an electronic portfolio, which you'll have access to in December. So why do we spend so much time on reflection?
Because reflecting on your own learning engages an internalized self-assessment process that helps you improve and deepen your learning.
Having a clear understanding of what you're good at, what you could do better, and how you can apply your learning to new situations is effective learning. Kindergartners engage in this reflective process with their teachers, who are knowledgeable about asking a variety of developmentally-appropriate questions or prompts that elicit different responses. By the time our students have matriculated to fourth and fifth grade, they quite naturally pause to reflect on their learning. It becomes second nature. This is how we develop a culture of reflection. Becoming reflective learners is one of the most important outcomes we intend for all students.
A quick update on iPad usage: iPads are alive and well! I've seen the tablets taken on field trips on- and off-campus for documentation purposes. Upper elementary students
use a web-based application such as Today's Meet, a backchannel for posting responses and ideas in real time for other classmates to read, or Edmodo, which is a safe social network in an educational setting for students. They use the iPad to take photos, capture video, record sounds or their own voices. They are also using the iPad as a tool to document their reflective processes, giving each student many different ways to enrich their learning, an excellent tool for promoting the culture of reflection we so much value.
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey