Reflection Questions and Closure
Looking back on a lesson Weight (Strong and Light) with students ages 4/5, 6/7 and 8-10 in the studio classes, I asked my college students to respond to questions about how I and my co-teachers in the other room conducted reflection questions and closure.
How did they conduct reflection? Closure? What seemed most effective in each of these areas? Least?
1) In the 4-5’s class reflection was done in a circle and in the 8-10’s it was usually done wherever the kids were standing or sitting at the time. Closure for 4-5’s was done in the same way. We discussed favorites and went over the concept one last time. For 8-10’s we usually do not discuss favorites, but rather reflect more on our last activity. In reflection I think it is best to ask branching questions, especially in 4-5’s. In the 8-10’s they are more capable of comprehending the concept and can come up with ideas more so on their own. For closure it is important to make sure the concept was received well. It is least effective to let everyone re-discuss every activity, but more effective to briefly describe why it was their favorite activity.
2) I really liked Kate’s method of reflection in the 4/5s after the explore activity where we imagined being in all these different places. She asked each child a question that piggy backed off the one previous. For example, she asked the first kid where we went? Then the next kid, what did we do there? Then, was that strong or light weight? I thought this was a nice way to provide connections and a relationship between the children. Other times reflection was in a circle and asked broader questions that both had the kids think about the previous activity and allowed the teacher to check for clarity among the kids.
Kate says: When an activity lends itself to a method of “unpacking,” use that method next time you do that activity, and document that successful approach in your notes. Sequential activities lend themselves to this. (It could also be a way to work with Developing Skills reflection about a phrase or combination).
3) Reflection was always done after an activity, in an organized manner. Usually, the kids were asked to sit ready position and then answer the questions that were posed. It seemed effective when the kids were asked to demonstrate something from the activity, such as when they had ‘active’ or ‘passive’ weight. Children described better when they were able to identify it with their bodies first. With the 4/5s, the kids are asked to tell their favorite activities from class that day, which serves as a nice review, and I think the kids have become rather attached to that routine of expressing their favorite things.
4) I sometimes get anxious during reflection. When you have each child say something, you get a lot of dead air space and wasted time. I’m not sure how to best go about reflecting at the end of class. I guess that’s the “closure”. Be autonomous? Ask everyone? Ask the hands raised the highest? Call on the kids not talking? I honestly don’t know what I think is most effective. I like “if you liked doing this…walk to the door” but that doesn’t provide discussion or reflection responses from the teacher. So I am open to suggestions on this one for sure!
Kate says: Maybe calling on different children different weeks, and letting them know ahead of time would give everyone a chance to be heard during the semester. You can keep the class roster handy, or have children’s names on strips of paper and call from those.
5) Most often the students are kept sitting during the reflection and kids are called out to answer one at a time. I thought it was nice once when the students were allowed to turn to their neighbor and share their answers with them. I thought this was nice, because then everyone was able to share their thoughts and nobody was put on the spot. I think a great extension to this (especially with older children) would be to have them then share with the rest of the group what their partner had to say. Closure recaps everything, reminding the kids of what they’d covered during class. I think it’s weird when we run out of time for closure, because I feel like the kids go home without having synthesized anything done in class.
Kate says: Good point. My friend Karen says if you don’t do closure, you may as well not do the lesson at all.
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