Why use the Reflection Questions?
The reflection questions at A Learning Place A Teaching Place have been designed to allow children to demonstrate and develop their understanding of mathematical concepts. The reflection questions have also been developed to allow you to collect formative assessment data in every lesson.
How could we Engage Children in Reflection?
Quality Maths lessons involve 3 aspects:
- Explicit Learning
- Guided and Independent Investigation
Reflection allows children to identify and explain their current understanding of mathematical concepts.
To reflect, children think about a specific reflection question. A reflection question is an open-ended broad question, allowing all children to access regardless of their current level of understanding. A child’s response to the question will provide formative assessment data about their current understanding, including any misunderstandings (misconceptions).
To reflect, children share their understandings when reflecting with other children. The children are within one another’s zones of proximal development. Vygotsky defines a zone of proximal development(i) as closely related levels of understanding. Reflecting within their zone of proximal development, and with others within their zone of primal development, serves to develop both children’s understanding and meta-language as the depth of their explanation will be greater than when explaining to an adult who’s zone of development is considered by the child to be much higher.
To reflect, children record their current understanding of mathematical concepts. Recording requires and develops logical thought and language. Vygotsky’s research on Thought and Language(ii) demonstrates that to learn, we need to think, then talk, then record. All three are vital to learning. After children have thought about, then discussed their current understanding, giving them to opportunity to record allows them to reconcile and synthesise their previous understanding with new understanding developed in the lesson.
Recorded responses to reflection questions allow teachers to see growth in each child’s understanding over lessons, weeks and terms.
When to ask the Reflection Question
The reflection question may be asked at any time during lessons, for example:
- at the start of the lesson to identify the specific explicit learning you will include in the lesson.
- at an opportune time during the lesson, to allow children to reflect on their current understanding before continuing to investigate.
- at the end of the lesson to provide formative assessment data of each child’s current level of understanding at the end of their investigation. Children think about the reflection question, then discuss the reflection question with a friend. Children then record their response to the reflection question.
Recording Reflection Question Response
There are many ways that students can record their response to a reflection question.
At the end of the lesson, collect each child’s book open at the page they recorded their investigations and reflection today. You can then place the books in piles according to the level of understanding demonstrated. The piles provide you with formative (iii) (and summative) assessment of the children’s understanding, and also give you the levels for the Explicit Learning and Guided and Independent Investigations for the next lesson!
Record response using Technology:
Technology may be used to record a reflection as video or audio which can then be viewed on-line.
Reflection Exit Slips:
At the end of each investigation is a reflection question that has been designed to allow children to demonstrate their understanding. These questions have been used to create a Reflection Exit Slip Freebie which can be downloaded below. Post it notes are another quick and easy way to record reflections.
Research Links within this Professional Learning Resource
Jonathan Tudge – Collaboration from a Vygotskian Perspective
Learning within your zone of proximal development, and with others within your zone of proximal development, accelerates and deepens understanding and meta-language.
Thought does not express itself in words, but rather realizes itself in them. Thought undergoes many changes as it turns into speech. In written speech, we are obliged to use many more words, and to use them more exactly. For this reason, thought comes first, then talking, then recording.
Wiliam and Black use the general term assessment to refer to all those activities undertaken by teachers—and by their students in assessing themselves—that provide information to be used as feedback to modify teaching and learning activities. Such assessment becomes formative assessment when the evidence is actually used to adapt the teaching to meet student needs.