Students reflect in a journal.

A couple of years back, I started having my students create and keep school reflection journals.  I knew from the first week it would prove to be a great thing.  They were given time at the end of each day to reflect on what they learned that day and on Friday, they composed a letter to someone they would see over the week end and have them write back.  By the end of the year, the students had a great collection of memories of all the things we did and learned as well as letters and notes from family and friends encouraging them to do well.

Along those lines, I had also wanted to incorporate a sketch book, a place where students could create sketches of their learning without the lines on the paper.  Time would always seem to pass me by and, although well intentioned, I never did implement the sketch books.

However, this year, I was determined to do so.  In fact, I decided to combine the idea of a sketch book and reflection journal into one.  Hence – the “sketch-reflection journal” was born.

As with so many things, I figured if I couldn’t find an affordable journal to use, I would create my own.  And so I did – 25 of them.  Using alternating sheets of drawing paper and lined paper, I saddle stapled oak-tag covered sketch-reflection journals for my students and made a presentation to them on our first Studio Day.  The students enjoyed their time designing their covers and afterwards, creating their first reflection.

Over the weeks, I have tweaked how we use our journals because of the sketching feature.  It’s not an end of the day reflection as much anymore, we use it more throughout the day.  I ask them to take it our during a science lesson to create a sketch of the molecular structure of a solid, liquid or gas, or in language arts to create an icon to go with a comprehension strategy.  Each sketch has an accompanying piece of lined paper for descriptions or other writing.  We’ve sketched out place value charts and written about them, gone outside to sketch a piece of our school playground and create a poem and will even sketch out the plot of a story complete with rising and falling action.

These journals are quickly becoming a place to hold great school moments and learning experiences.  I hope they become something the students will treasure in years to come as something fun to thumb through and even a reference of sorts.  I have extras made too, so that some students will fill up more than one sketch journal during the year as I encourage them to use these journals for their own personal academic use as well.  In other words, I want them to use these journals on their own as much as with what I expect of them.

Reflection is so important to learning.  What are some other ways you are providing for your students to reflect?

~EMP

Studio Days - So Important to Our Learning!
Answering Essential Questions (in our Sketch-Reflection Journals)

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