Support Student Reflection With Live Digital Strategies and Tools

Explore strategies, tips, and tools to promote student self-reflection during synchronous teaching.

Grades K-12 10 min Resource by:
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There is no single right way to reflect, and depending on your students’ ages and learning styles, they will feel most comfortable reflecting in different ways.

To begin teaching the process, you may choose to start out by requiring a specific format, but as students become more comfortable and confident in the process, you can introduce more voice and choice. This will allow students to develop a customized and personal process that they can continue to use in the future. The list below offers some reflection options to get you started.

Specific Strategies and Tools

Model Self Reflection

  • Think out loud during live virtual learning sessions. Model for your students how to ask yourself questions, reflect on your work, and create next steps and goals based on your self-reflection.

Reflection Discussions

  • Provide a space and time for students to self-reflect through discussion.
  • This can best be done with small groups of students or in pairs. If meeting as a class during live virtual learning, consider using some type of breakout room to create groups of two to four students.
  • Model and provide sentence stems and/or other types of supports to help students be successful with reflection discussions.
    • Example sentence stems include:
      • “I used to think…, but now I think… because…”
      • “What I do well is…, and what I need to work on is…”

Fake Texts

  • Students love to communicate through text messaging, so why not have them reflect through text? At any point during your live virtual learning session, have students create and share a fake text about their learning. You could use the same sentence stems from above. Students can put the text in the chat, share it with a chat buddy, or even send it to themselves and/or their parents/guardians as a real text.

Reflection Dice

  • Create a set of reflection questions and number them from 1 to 6, assigning each number to represent a specific question.
  • Share your screen during a live virtual session and use virtual dice, such as the dice in Classroomscreen. Roll the dice, and then have students answer the corresponding question.

Emoji Meter

  • Have students reflect on their thinking and how they are feeling using emojis.
  • Students can create emojis or circle existing emojis to reflect on their thinking or feelings.
  • During live virtual learning, students can draw emojis on paper and hold them up, or teachers can set up a digital emoji meter.
  • Digital emoji meters can be created several different ways, using several different tools:
    • Explain Everything is a collaborative digital whiteboard. You can share an edit link with students, allowing them to all be drawing on the same digital whiteboard at the same time. Students can draw emojis or circle emojis that the teacher has put on the whiteboard prior to sharing.
Whiteboard of student-drawn emojis

Example 1: Students draw/add emojis.

Whiteboard showing hand-drawn emoji circled by students

Example 2: Students circle emojis that the teacher put on the digital whiteboard.

  • Google Forms is a digital survey tool that allows you to upload images. You can upload images of emojis and share the form with students, allowing them to self-reflect. You can simultaneously be gathering formative assessment around how they are feeling.
  • Emoji meters and polls can be created with Classroomscreen. However, they only work on one screen, so in a virtual learning classroom, you could have students verbally share or hold up the color that represents their answer, and you could click on the emojis and show a visual representation of the group.
    Classroomscreen Emoji Meter
  • Using Seesaw, teachers can create emoji meter activities for students.
  • Emotional scales can be created, shared, and quickly completed during a live virtual session using Poll Everywhere.

Reflection Journals

Reflection journals are a space where individual students can reflect. These can vary in format. Journals can be more picture-based, text-based, audio-based, or any combination of the three.

Students can use journals daily or weekly to reflect on what they have learned. Teachers can provide time during a live virtual session for students to journal and share reflections.

  • Teachers can provide many different reflection journaling strategies:
  • Sentence Stems
    • Sentence stems can be used throughout a live virtual learning session. Remember to model how to use sentence stems and provide adequate time for students to complete them.
    • Some additional examples of sentence stems include: “I am doing well with…,” “I am proud of myself for…,” “I still need help with…, and my next steps are…”
  • Two Stars and a Wish
    • Two Stars and a Wish could be used as an entry or exit reflection for students. Students write down and/or share the following: “Two things I really like about my work [or two things I am doing well] are…, and one thing I could improve is…”
  • Glow and Grow
    • Glow and Grow could be used throughout a live virtual learning session to have students self-reflect. Students share the following: “One thing I am doing well [a glow] is…, and one thing I want to improve [a grow] is…”
  • 3–2–1 Summary Café
    • A 3–2–1 Summary Café could be used in the middle or at the end of a session for students to self-reflect. Students write down and/or share the following: “3 things I learned are…, 2 things I connected with are…, and 1 question I have is…”
  • Sketch-to-Reflect
    • During a Sketch-to-Reflect, students draw what they have learned and/or how they are feeling. They can do this multiple times in a single session.
    • Sketch-to-Reflect can be a great strategy to use during virtual read-alouds or virtual presentations. Have students draw six to eight boxes in their journal and number them. The teacher or presenter then reads aloud or presents for two or three minutes, before pausing and giving 30 to 60 seconds for students to sketch and reflect on their understanding or how they are feeling. This pattern continues until the read-aloud or presentation is completed, or a specific amount of time has passed.
    • Once a Sketch-to-Reflect is completed, students can summarize their drawings/reflections and share with others.
  • 10–2–2
    • During a 10–2–2, the teacher presents information for 10 minutes, allows students to process information individually or in breakout rooms for 2 minutes, and then allows students to summarize and reflect on information in their journal for 2 minutes.
  • Students keep their writings, drawings, and/or audio files in their journals and review progress over time. Students can identify and recognize their own growth based on their journaling.
  • Journaling can be completed on paper or in a digital format. Some tools that can be used for digital journaling may include:

Interactive Notebooks

  • Students can use interactive notebooks to capture and reflect on their thinking and learning that takes place during live virtual learning sessions.
  • Teachers can use interactive notebooks to encourage and support multiple forms of reflection and make reflection more interactive.
  • Interactive notebooks should be designed intentionally by the teacher and guide learning activities. As these are being designed, the teacher can include reflection components into the notebook to guide students. They can be modified for any grade level, including the youngest students.
  • Interactive notebooks can be created using several different digital formats.
    • NearpodGoogle SlidesMicrosoft OneNote, and Seesaw could all be used to create digital interactive notebooks with students during a live virtual learning session and/or in combination with asynchronous (not live) learning.

Learning Logs

  • Learning logs can be used to reflect throughout and at the end of a live virtual learning session. Learning logs are places for students to log reflections about their learning journey. While the format may vary, they are places where students can reflect informally, not worrying about style and structure as much as content. Students often enter logs as text, but they may use other media, as well. Some learning logs are organized as graphic organizers.
  • Learning logs can be completed on paper or in a digital format.

Google Docs Learning Log

(This is a sample learning log in a graphic organizer format.)