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 and process, 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
Blogs have become one of the most popular forms of writing on the internet, and they can work great as reflection logs. Posts are automatically compiled in one place (often by the date of the post) and can be shared either publicly or privately with individual people (like a teacher). Some tools offer class management, as well. Popular blogging tools include Edublogs, Blogger, and Weebly for Education.
While these can vary in format, they are often text-based places for students to reflect. You could think of these as digital versions of paper journals. Simple word processing documents work well and can easily be shared with a teacher. Other multimedia tools can also be used to offer entries that go beyond text and images. Popular writing tools for journals include Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and paper notebooks (if internet isn’t available).
By their definition, these 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 include other media, as well (like images, drawings, or video recordings). Some learning logs are organized as graphic organizers to help structure and guide student responses. Popular writing tools that work for journaling also work for learning logs: Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and paper notebooks (if internet isn’t available).
Portfolios allow students to gather examples of learning in one place. They often offer a history of the process used to reach a goal, and they can show a progression of growth over time. Because of this, they can be excellent places to embed reflection. Some of the most common tools for creating portfolios include Google Sites, Google Slides, a Google Drive folder, Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Seesaw. Seesaw, which was designed to be a portfolio tool, may be the easiest solution for younger learners.
(This is a sample portfolio created in Google Sites.)
Progress Tracking Checklists
These checklists can provide an easy way for students to track their progress by checking items off as they are completed. Students could record scores for each assignment or simply check off completed tasks. Reflection areas can be built into each checklist page or built into an ongoing document. You can review this sample ongoing reflection document for a persuasive essay and modify it to meet your needs. Spreadsheet tools can offer the added benefit of automatically graphing progress for students. Common tools for creating checklists include Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets. Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Excel.
This is a place to collect, reflect, and recollect elements of student learning. Students collect artifacts, thoughts, notes, and resources during their learning journey. They can use this space to reflect on their journey and later to review and recollect these experiences. Depending on the format, artifacts and reflections may include text, videos and screen recordings, audio recordings, images, links, sketches and examples of work, and more. eBinders can be created as websites, using tools like Google Sites or Weebly. Slideshow tools like Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint also work well, as do word processing programs like Google Docs and Microsoft Word. Microsoft OneNote is a powerful digital notebook tool that is very versatile and easily customized to meet student needs.
(This is a sample eBinder created with Google Sites.)
Interactive notebooks are similar to eBinders but are often more designed to align directly to academic content. They are also more likely to be designed intentionally by the teacher to guide learning activities. As these templates are being created, the teacher can include reflection components into the notebook to provide placeholders and structure for student comments. These notebooks can be modified for any grade level, including the youngest students. Two popular platforms for creating interactive notebooks are Google Slides and Microsoft OneNote.
(In this sample primary-grade interactive notebook progress monitoring activity, students drag an emoji to the mountain to show where they are on their journey and how they are feeling about their progress. This was created in Google Slides and may be copied or downloaded as a Microsoft PowerPoint file.)