(Deluxe) Reflection Tools

Most teachers and educational theorists agree - "real" learning involves reflection.  Thus, save a bit of time after a lesson to provide ample time for students to reflect - five or more minutes is ideal - depending on the complexity and familiarity with the topic.

(From Leo Reynolds Flickr Stream; Photoshopped by Jen)
Here are some easy-peasy reflection tools; I've gathered these over the years from other educators, conferences, and workshops, thus no citations are included:

Symbols – Using playdoh, pipe cleaners, and/or art materials, have students create a symbol representing what they learned that day.  My favorites are the giant piper cleaners – look for them at craft stores near you.

Weather, Geography or Landscape Report – Ask students to connect what they learned in class that day to a weather pattern, geographic location or type of landscape.  For example, a student might say, “The story of Romeo and Juliet to me is like a partly sunny day with severe thunderstorms in the afternoon.  The sunny part of the day is when Romeo and Juliet meet.  The thunderstorm happened when Juliet died.”

Switch-off - Create a thoughtful, open-ended, higher-order thinking question for students (you should be thinking of Bloom's Taxonomy right now, yes?).  Allow students time to reflect and write their answer.  Then, have students switch papers with a classmate and react to what their classmate wrote.  Do these switch offs as many times as you see fit.

Headlines – have students generate a newspaper headline to represent what they learned in class that day.  Also, use this activity to assess students’ energy levels, emotional states, connections to material, etc. 

Thermometer of Learning – This one takes the least amount of time.  Post temperatures on the wall by the door.  Ask students to touch the temperature that represents how much they learned that day. 
Photographs – Ask students to reflect on the lesson that day.  What stands out in their minds?  Now, ask students to take a photograph (in their mind) of that part of the lesson.  What does it look like?  Who was doing what?  What was their role in the photo?  This might be a fun one to recreate with cell phone cameras.  Oh, does your school still ban cell phones used educationally?

If you missed the tweet exit ticket from last week, click here.  It, too, encourages reflection.



  1. This student reflection post is absolutely perfect for me. Just today, my PG mentor was saying that wrapping up a lesson was not my strong point...I never really knew it was important to get students to sum up what they learned at the end of each day. My favorite ideas are the pipe cleaner formation and the headline. The pipe cleaner idea allows students to think creatively, and it's just so random and fabulous. The headlines are another thoughtful way for students to get the main message across in a few words. I think the headline idea would also tie perfectly into lessons that open with newsmap (another fave pick up lesson from this blog)...open the lesson with news and close it with students writing their own headline.

  2. Jenna - Have you tried any of the ideas? If yes, how did it go?


  3. These ideas are great for any age group. They run hand in hand with the cognitive learning theory which suggests that failure to revisit newly learned information will result in it being forgotten and never entering a student's long-term memory. Perhaps these ideas could be taken a step further and done at the end of the week reflecting that week's three (or however many you see fit) ideas. The more repetition of new learning we do, the more likely the student will remember.

  4. Love this! Love this! Love this! I would like to do the giant pipe cleaner one because it hits the kinesthetic learner. I had been doing exit tickets but with 80 kids, it was becoming a nightmare to keep track of. This seems easier to manage. I'm off to Michaels with a 40% off coupon this weekend.

    Elise T