Creating Reflective Learners

Students are more successful when they monitor and reflect upon their thinking and learning. Cultivate a classroom of self-reflective learners using these strategies:

I use a learning goal and scale. I create a classroom culture in which students feel safe self-assessing and sharing their honest progress towards learning goals. I set a purpose for each lesson by using a specific and measurable learning goal or objective written in student-friendly language. I remind students that a learning goal identifies what they will learn or be able to do by the end of the lesson. I tell students that they will be setting goals, reflecting on their understanding, and monitoring their progress toward these goals. I teach students how to show a numerical finger cue corresponding to the learning scale under their chins to rate their understanding throughout a lesson. I explain that honest ratings help me as a teacher because I am able to see what they understand and areas in which they need more help.

I use Robert Marzano’s “Assessing Student Learning” from his Art and Science of Teaching. It’s posted in my room and at the end of each lesson I ask to students to score themselves. I’ve found that using this learning scale has made a tremendous difference in my students’ motivation and investment in their own learning. They are accountable for their progress and take ownership of their mastery.  You can grab a copy of from my store. Just click on the picture. 

I track their scores using an iPad app called Easy Assessment. It’s a dollar. I set it up with the kids in each group.  I love that I can export the scores out to excel to have as hard data.

I promote self-advocacy skills. Have you ever had a student that just sits like a bump on a log and stares aimlessly into space instead of asking for help? Teach your students how to advocate for themselves and ask appropriate clarifying questions by creating an Asking-for-Help anchor chart. This chart should consist of questions that students can ask when they need help or do not understand a goal, such as:
  • May I please have more information?
  • May I have some more time to think?
  • Would you please repeat the question?
  • Where can I find more information about that?
  • May I ask a friend to help?
  • Would you please give me another example?
  • Where can I find that answer?
  • Would you please show me another way to solve the problem?
  • Would you please clarify that?

After I have completed the anchor chart, laminate it, show it to class, and discuss appropriate and inappropriate ways they are to ask for help. Insist that students speak in complete sentences when they request help. Redirect students to use the questions whenever they are confused.

I create student portfolios. Portfolios are a great way for students to demonstrate growth and showcase their work as a holistic means of assessment. These are also powerful tools for communicating student performance during parent-teacher conferences. Create a checklist of work samples that I want to include in each student portfolio. For example, I may want to include a piece from each subject area that shows growth, one that shows mastery, a piece that each student is most proud of, and one that students are currently working on. I explain to students how this is an ideal opportunity for them to demonstrate what they have learned and to share their learning goals with their families. I direct students to choose pieces of work within each subject area that they think exemplify their personal growth and progress. If using the stamp kit, tell students to stamp each piece of work with the appropriate stamp. I prepare students to justify and explain their ratings for each piece during the conference. Parents love seeing samples of student work and always moved when they hear children discuss their learning and progress. Be sure to have a box of Kleenex handy as these proud moments can invoke tears of happiness and joy.

Some things for me to reflect on before returning in the fall. Have a great week.


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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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