#DigiLitSunday: Before and After (Reflection Points)

Each week, Margaret Simon puts forth a theme for DigiLitSunday and we are at “reflection.” What a great theme. We need to reflect more, and we need to find ways for our students to reflect more on what they have done or are doing or will do. Last year, I piloted Digital Writing Portfolios (although “writing” became more than just pieces of writing by the time we were done — along with stories, they had comics and videos and video games) and a key element of each project was the act of reflecting.

First, they must write a reflection after completing each digital project. This allows some space between the piece itself and the process that went into composing the piece. I find this does not come natural to my students. They need mentor texts and discussions about reflecting. Many struggle with it.

Then, during the Digital Portfolio time, they return to all that they have made over the school year and read all of the reflections, and then begin curating their work. Again, they reflect.

Why did you choose the pieces and what about those pieces spoke to you?

Last year, I didn’t model this final reflective stance enough. I have excuses: we ran out of time in the year, I was still figuring out how to help them use Google Sites for their portfolios, etc. But I know I need to do a better job. If I believe in it, then I need to make time for it.

I was wondering how I can adapt what I did for this following video, where I overlaid a reflection of a song I was writing, with the words of the song in motion, and my voice. I found it a powerful experience to reflect on the process. It helped make me a better songwriting, I think. How might this process make my students better writers? How can I manage this kind of digital reflection project in the classroom with so many students? Those are questions I will need to grapple with.

What is true, though, is the learning itself is often not in the final project we see, but in the process that comes before and the reflection that comes afterwards. By making those compositional points more visible to students, they can bear witness to how much they have accomplished. By making those points more visible to us, the teacher, we can bear witness to the amazing potential of our students as digital composers.

Peace (upon reflection),

  1. I ran out of time last year, too, and want to do better this time around. Making reflection a part of each project is difficult when we always feel stressed to get to the next thing. Thanks for this statement, “By making those points more visible to us, the teacher, we can bear witness to the amazing potential of our students as digital composers.”

  2. I said on your YouTube: Just beautiful. Amazingly beautiful. I did not know Titon Pad made a video of the revision. That would be awesome showing kids, as this does, the process of writing a piece of oneself, because that’s what writers do. I wonder if this would help students in their reflection and learning to understand their own thinking?

    This is what the text-makers and data-mongers do not understand, and you have said perfectly: “What is true, though, is the learning itself is often not in the final project we see, but in the process that comes before and the reflection that comes afterwards. ”

    If our classrooms are authentic in our work and play together, the learning is full and wide and so much more than any posted objective.

    Thanks for another amazing reflection.

  3. So many layers to this piece. You are so right that the real learning is in the process. I am always amazed at the thinking that goes behind my students’ work. Thank you for sharing this piece. It will make a great mentor text for your students!

  4. Enjoyed watching the song be created, while listening to it being sung. As I did, this question nagged at me.

    You are so good at what you do, probably because you’ve been practicing this type of learning and creativity and teaching, for many years.

    Your students are in 6th grade when they come to you. Are there other teachers in your school who are just as creative and motivated as you are, who try to build these habits in earlier grades, or who continue to teach these habits in 7th grade through 12th grade?

    If kids could be exposed to this type of thinking and learning for 12 continuous years, practicing this in various classes, continuing to improve their own skills and perhaps digging deeper into causes they care about, which to me, is the fuel that motivates deeper learning, the graduates of your school system would be a powerful force unleashed into the world.

    Or, are you an island that they visit for a year as they swim on toward whatever the future will hold for them?

    • I’m not an island … neither am I a country. It’s a struggle at times to move people along, and with all the demands on all of us, that makes it even more difficult. I do my best to help those young people in front of me, and offer help and ideas to colleagues. In fact, I am co-leading a PD session tomorrow, weaving some tech into a workshop around literacies and collaboration. We move forward, all of us. Thanks for your kind comments and questions, Daniel

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