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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 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 or anytime we work with SEAL.  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)