I have been uber excited about this idea I thought I'd trial with my class this year. I wanted to find a way that would honour the learner's need to reflect and process their thinking in a free way that works best for them and at the same time could become a useful assessment tool for me to gain a glimpse of what is going on in their mathematical minds so I can better help them in their journeys.
As we all know, as teachers, we take risks all the time in trying new ideas- lots of flops and sometimes amongst them some great successes. At the moment, I am feeling this 'maths reflection diary' is going to be a wonderful success.
The idea is pretty simple, I cut in half some exercise books ( I figure if the space the children reflect in is small, then it is less intimidating- there is that sense of satisfaction when we feel we use up a whole space) and on the front taped some thinking symbols we could trial:
We have discussed the John Dewey quote, but as reflecting in maths is new to these learners, we didn't go into so much depth about the meaning behind the quote, but in a month or so after they have gathered more diary entries, we will revisit the quote and see how our thinking about it has changed.
After a maths learning experience a few times a week, we spend 5 minutes reflecting about the learning and thinking we have done.
We choose symbols from the table to help visualise the reflecting we are doing. We are encouraged each time to remember that visualising and creativity in maths are key and some children are picking up on that are drawing their thinking, but most at this stage are still more comfortable in writing sentences with the symbol beside each. That is where they are at and that is perfectly fine.
From this simple routine, I am gaining so much insight into each child's mind. I am able to see where they feel they are being successful and where they may be struggling. But more importantly, this routine gives each child the valuable time to actually reflect on their learning and it also gives the a voice that they might not otherwise have in the classroom if we are doing whole class discussions. Those of us who may be less courageous or even introverted have a platform to also share what is going on in their mathematical mind. additionally, it gives them a valuable opportunity to think about who they are as a learner and to process the concepts being explored.
Furthermore, it allows me as the teacher to create a dialogue with each child.
We have only started or diary reflections this week and yet there is so much rich thinking and future potential they could take them.
NB: The fold their paper in half so each time they reflect in their diary is half a page.
This student's creativity and need to visualise in mathematical thinking shines in his entries:
Sometimes it can really valuable to see misconceptions some might be nurturing:
I feel I am building a stronger relationship with each child by giving them the daily written feedback and I can tell that because they know I will respond to their diary entry on the same day, they are progressively putting in more thought and some who are reluctant and taking risks to experiment with visually representing their thinking.
In a few weeks, we will discuss ways we could improve our reflection diary- perhaps we could add or improve on the symbols or any other ideas they feel might help deepen their learning through reflection. I'm sure they will come up with even better ways than I have.
Reading and responding has instantly become one of my favourite parts of the day. :)
Here is the link to the cover page if you'd like to have and print: