Over the past few years, I’ve been implementing reflection journals. It started as a lined notebook where students took a moment at the end of each day to reflect on the day. We created covers for these journals during a Studio Day in order to make them personal and meaningful for the year.
During those years, I always encouraged my students to use sketches as well as words to fill up the pages with their reflections. Meanwhile I searched for a way to incorporate sketchbooks into the process. Finally, this year I decided to design my own sketch-reflection journals. (This is one thing on my DID LIST this year!) These journals were made using alternating pages of lined copy paper with drawing papers of the same size. I covered the books with a piece of oak tag and saddle stapled them.
We didn’t use these “sketch-reflection journals” as an end of the day reflection as much as we used it throughout the day when the time seemed right. I would ask them to take it out 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 even sketched out the plot of a story complete with rising and falling action.
These journals became 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. As the end of the year approaches, I am finding that many journals have some blank pages at the ends. I am hoping that students will continue to use these on their own throughout the summer, using it for their own personal and academic use as well. In other words, I want them to use these journals on their own as much as with what I have expected of them. (Maybe that is a special assignment I can use.)
As I’ve said before in so many ways, reflection is so important to learning. Allowing students to sketch as well as write has proven to be a meaningful and practical way for kids to reflect on their work. In fact, this is one of those years where I have had many visual artists in my class, so drawing has been a natural extension for many of them as well as a challenging exercise for others.
As I look to next year, I hope to incorporate more into their sketch-reflection journals by collaborating more with the art teacher in our school. She shows a lot of interest. A shortage of time to meet has hindered our ability to really work together on this, but I hope that will change in the years to come.