Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rising to the Expectation with Reflection

       If you know me well, you know that I love to quote movies. I can't guarantee that the movie is from this decade (chances are it's circa 1999 or earlier), but I can promise that I make every attempt to fit it to the situation. In this case, the quote is Kevin Costner's from Field of Dreams- "If you build it, they will come." In the education world, this translates to: "If you set the bar high, they will strive to reach it."
     The letter you see above is from a kindergarten student's Family Reflection Journal. She started out the year (2 1/2 short months ago) mostly drawing pictures and copying the class generated message--  verbatim. Each week Mrs. Kent and I thoughtfully modeled choosing an idea from the class-created list, drawing a relevant picture,  stretching out of unfamiliar words, and singing songs of those we had studied with the purpose of writing a reflective entry sharing our learning experiences for the week. With the ever-present high expectations- students, like Meredith, have moved beyond drawing, labeling, and copying to ultimately writing a sentence unique to her learning. The topic Meredith chose- jumping rope in gym- is not even one that was discussed in class. It was just something important to her as a learner- something she wanted to share with her family that will surely lead to further conversations at home. Independent thinking goal- met!  Form, Audience, and Purpose goal- met! Communication goal- met!
      With our constant encouragement and careful scaffolding, Mrs. Kent and I have weaned the early primary students from relying on our learning list or model entry. Now, students participate in the vital discussion of their learning and see an entry modeled, but it's up to them to decide their audience, focus of learning, and how to write it down in their journal. Together we set the reflection expectation bar, and as you can see, many are striving to reach it... and it's only November 1st!

   It's evident that many of you are taking advantage of the opportunity to use the Family Reflection Journals to teach such skills and concepts as: 
  • What is informative writing? 
  • How do we write with a particular purpose (to share our learning with our audience)?
  • What is proper sentence structure? How do we write a focused paragraph with a topic sentence, supporting details, and a closing sentence?
  • Many of you in the Intermediate grades are encouraging students to choose 2 academic and 1 non-academic area to write about so the audience has a more well-rounded view of the students' school experience.
How have your high expectations led to powerful student reflections? (Share your stories by pressing the Comment button and typing away!)

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