Photos for Early Reflections
Reflection for the younger child is more of a statement about the activity. If you’ve added a photo of a child building a block structure into his/her portfolio, the child might just tell you that he is building a castle with his friends. As the child becomes more comfortable with the process, he might add details about who build which part, naming the different sections of their building, or how long it took them to create it. At St. John’s Episcopal of Dallas, we’ve chosen to use Evernote as our method of creating digital portfolios. So, when we insert the photo of the child’s block structure, we have the ability to record the child’s comments about their creation. This is an example of a beginning stage of meta-cognition. The child’s thoughts concerning they’re thoughts or feelings about their project are being recorded. Value is being assigned to their thoughts.
Teasing out small steps of learning and assessing performance on each one makes school manageable for the child. One useful tool to assist this reflective interaction is what we refer to as an “easy/hard questionnaire.” (The Power of Portfolios by Elizabeth Herbert, 2001)
I’ve taken Elizabeth Herbert’s easy/hard questionnaire form and have put it into a Easy Hard Reflection Template. This will allow teachers to focus on goals specific to each child. After reading the skill with the child, slowly move your pencil across the line from easy to hard. The child halts the movement and the teacher places a dot at the designated spot. This simple form makes learning visible. By going back and remeasuring the ease or difficulty of a previously rated skill, a record of forward learning and thinking is captured. The completed template can easily be inserted into an Evernote note as either a document or as a photo. Additional information can be added by allowing the child to expand upon their reasoning through an audio recording. The ability to look back at one’s learning and apply that learning to future learning experiences is a skill that can be modeled and taught to the youngest of students.