Student Voice and Reflection

In the PYP Enhancements April communique we learned that Reflection is no longer a Key Concept.



This was initially met with excitement and agreement on Twitter. Many educators felt that finally there is a focus and a justification of really emphasizing reflection as a tool to improve student learning.

However, I do agree with this tweet from Nicole Jaggers:

This is essentially true with all key concepts as they are macro-concepts, therefore making the removal of Reflection an odd deed indeed.

Key concepts are macro-concepts that transcend disciplines such as change, interdependence, system and relationships. The PYP has identified eight macro-concepts as key concepts to use for the programme.

— Concept-based teaching and learning by H Lynn Erickson

As the discussion matured and more and more people were voicing their support and agreement to the new enhancement I began to wonder whether we were talking about the same thing. I started to wonder if there was a misinterpretation of what fully integrated means or if my own interpretation was inaccurate and that’s when I came across this comment that perfectly summarizes what I had been thinking about

There is a huge difference between being reflective and reflection as a concept.

Student Voice – Becoming a meta-cognitive thinker

Metacognition in the school context is thinking about one’s thinking.  More precisely it refers to the processes we use to plan, monitor, and assess our own understanding, learning, and performance.

To be able to one needs to have a critical awareness of

a) one’s thinking and learning
b) oneself as a thinker and learner

Metacognition literally means “big thinking.” You are thinking about thinking. During this process you are examining your brain’s processing. Teachers work to guide students to become more strategic thinkers by helping them understand the way they are processing information. Questioning, visualizing, and synthesizing information are all ways that readers can examine their thinking process. Through scaffolding and reciprocal teaching, students are able to practice the skills that lead to these overt acts becoming automatic.

— Fountas and Pinnell, 2000

In our Digital World, we can create, capture, curate, and connect student learning in any form. We definitely should be empowering students to independently to document their learning not just in school but everywhere where their learning and action takes place. Digital portfolios, blogs, and social media tools are in our grasp to take this step further, to redefine thinking about our thinking, to document our learning process, and to receive and give feedback. However, if we just document learning, reflect without feedback, and  do routines without thinking there is a chance that even the best intentions become  disjointed from Why:

 Therefore we need to make sure that through our ATL -lense we focus on metacognition and reflection and rise above routines to think about thinking.

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