Reflection is Powerful
“We had the experience but missed the meaning.”- T. S. Eliot
The importance of reflective thinking during and at the end of a lesson is paramount to students’ retention of concepts. By simply infusing lessons and units with “I learned…” statements, “Think Aloud” partner activities, and “Week in Review” discussions, retention of big ideas and the supporting information becomes the foundation for students’ knowledge to be built upon.
Each of these reflective strategies offers students a chance to articulate their thinking. “I Learned” statements help students organize their thoughts filtering through details to better shape the big ideas in their own mind. “Think aloud” partner or small group activities involve students in peer teaching. Partners or groups work together to find a statement or answer that best reflects their thinking. The beauty of the partner or group-work is that it is a chance for individual students to incorporate others opinions into their own thinking and have their own voice heard on a smaller scale. It can also be helpful for a student who may be struggling to hear peer reflections to make personal cognitive connections. “Week in Review” discussions are beneficial for both student and teacher as a way to articulate new thinking, assess understanding of lesson, review facts, big idea and recall connections important to retention of information.
It is through reflection, then, that better comprehension and retention emerges. Learning through reflection becomes an activity for students to negotiate comprehension through a varied context. This context is meaningful and authentic for students as they work within their peer environment. Thus, making student cognitive development is both emergent and social.