Today I am participating in Digital Learning Sunday with Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. This week Margaret has encouraged us to write about reflection.
Today, September 11th, seems to be the perfect day for reflection. I, as I am sure all of you, remember exactly what I was doing the day of the terrorist attack. I was a stay-at-home mom at the time. Megan was a 3rd grader, and Ethan was in pre-school. My sister-in-law was staying at my in-laws who lived next door. She came running over, telling me to turn on the television. And I was glued to it the rest of the day and into the night.
Our world has been forever changed. During those next few days, months, and even years, many people reflected on our country's patriotism and our faith in each other, our country and our God. Reflection came to the forefront through this tragedy.
As a teacher, reflection is as routine as planning lessons. It is a part of the daily process. As a writer, reflection is a common thread woven throughout my writing. It's what I do.
These beginning weeks of school, I have come to realize that many of my students do not know what true reflection is. Many of them can write opinions, can summarize text and answer text based questions, but writing how they are affected or what they learned through an experience or by reading a text, escapes some of them.
I have to ask myself, is this a product of the testing culture? Are we stifling students' ability to connect with a text? Are we giving them a chance to express emotions when reading a text or to write how this reading has affected them? Are we asking them to think beyond the evidence? Is prompt writing so ingrained in them, that reflection is foreign to them?
Or have we, as teachers, not taught them how to reflect and given them the opportunity to try it out.
These are questions I am reflecting on as I learn more about my students as writers. But I don't want to wait for a tragedy to create reflective writers.
I assign an article of the week each week. Part of the assignment is some type of writing, mostly standard-based. This week after reading and studying examples, they are to write a reflection paragraph (we are starting slow). This will be their first one, so I have to keep in mind this piece is a benchmark and my goal is to see them grow as writers.
I plan to move into digital reflection through blogging, Padlet, and Google Slides. Finding an outlet for reflection that meets their needs will be a key part in motivating them.
I know I have lots of teaching and modeling to do, and I know they need lots of practice.
I hope to use my own reflections from reading Katherine Bomer's new book, The Journey is Everything to help them become writers who better understand themselves, each other, and the world in which we live.
To me, that is the essence of reflection.