As I blogged about reflection in September:
“I believe strongly in the power of reflection to help writers learn and grow, but there is one problem with reflection as a tool for change – humans are lazy and thinking is hard.”
However, I persevere with the uphill struggle to make my students reflective writers. This semester I modified my approach to reflection. In the past I have required journals and used Twitter but this semester I expanded the process.
It begins with a Prompt that I post on the class blog. This is more than the quick one- or two-sentence prompt which I used in the past and actually approaches more of a mini-lecture of sorts. My intent is to provide a lot of fodder for reflection. For my Writing I students that has meant exploring topics such as writing, literacy, and education. My Professional Writing students have explored professional writing and rhetoric, their professional and personal goals, grant writing, and grant reporting.
I then ask students to journal about the prompt topic. These are not graded and I’m looking for nothing more than a brain dump of sorts. Students are then asked to discuss the prompt topic and the questions it raises in a Blackboard forum. Finally, I ask them to share their thoughts via Twitter. I have been collecting their Tweets on these topics using Storify and I find that I really like having those snapshots of their discussions.
For example, that first week my Writing 1 students reflected on what it means to be a writer. I know I can’t convince all my freshmen writers that they are indeed writers, but every semester hope springs anew. They then moved on to discuss literacy and education as well as their importance.
My Professional Writing students really enjoyed learning more about and discussing rhetoric and professional writing during that first week. I think it was a great place to begin our semester’s work. In preparation for choosing their topics for their semester projects and helping me create a meaningful course, they then discussed their life goals.
While I am sure that many of my students are not enjoying this process as much as I am, I hope that ultimately they take away some important lessons from this reflection.
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