We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience. -John Dewey
The presentation is over. The panel has gone home. The kid’s work is done. So is that it? No, it’s time for one of the most important pieces of a PBL project – reflection.
When the kids talk about the work they’ve done, how they answered the driving question, and about their presentation it helps to cement their learning. They are able to retain what they’ve learned as they make connections to past experiences and to future learning. It was at this point that the kids shared stories of friends or family who had experienced the same disease and symptoms that Howard displayed. They started to take past memories and connect them to new information. It is equally important to be able to transfer the knowledge and the learning strategies to new projects. The 4th graders will have a basic understanding of the systems of the human body when they explore the subject in greater detail while in middle or high school. They will also have gain clues as to their strengths and challenges as a learner. Do they retain information more easily when presented in written, audio, or video form? What type of group member are they? Kids deserve and need the time to digest and reflect on what they’ve learned and to feel pride in their accomplishments.
There are many excellent ways to organize the reflection phase of your PBL. The form I used for this project was developed by Rhonda Mitchell from Trinity School in Atlanta, Georgia. She calls it the RIP 3 Reflection Protocol. Since this was the first time we had used this reflection format, I projected the reflection explanation, blank form, and a student sample on the Smart Board so we could discuss it. I then gave each child a copy of the reflection form.
I think it was a good first try with the RIP 3 format. The majority of the kids took it seriously and spent time on it. Here are some of my discoveries after reviewing their reflection pieces:
1. Remember -Most kids were able to summarize the project but this is a skill that needs more review.
2. Identify the Important Part – Here we had comments about how to present, teamwork, and learning about their bodies.
3. Put it together – They connected their learning to other people, other types of presentations, and to general health issues.
4. Pick it apart – Most of the remarks dealt with specific facts they’d learned. There were some that dealt with the mechanics of research.
5. Plan to use – This section was very enlightening. There were comments about their presentation mannerisms and speaking skills. Many of the kids mentioned keeping up with their citations. One child said that they would be more confident if they ever had to present again. And there were many health lessons that they planned on remembering.I think it’s important that we as teachers model the different methods of reflection. It shows the students that the act of reflecting is worthwhile. I’ve also found that if I don’t stop and reflect as soon as the project is complete, I’m probably not going to do it and I certainly won’t remember everything that I wanted to improve or change.
Spending time with the kids talking about their hard work and their final product is a great time of bonding. It reaffirms that “Student’s opinions matter in PBL – they were not just passive recipients of your teaching, but active partners on the journey.”(PBL in the Elementary Grades, BIE, p. 119)
Other reflection sources:
Student Reflection Samples from Trinity School in Atlanta, Georgia:
- For end of year reflections for 2nd/ 3rd grade, click here
- For end of year reflections for 4th/5th grade, click here
- For end of year/graduation reflections for 6th grade, click here
- Click here for Kindergartener reflecting on paper & then photographing for portfolio (used Explain Everything)
- 2nd grade audio reflection, click here
- Pre k self-reflection, click here
- 1st grade writing and reading portfolio entry, click here