Don’t Look Back in Anger: Student Reflection and Review

If in doubt, always ask the kids.

We’re approaching the end of the summer term, which means schemes of work drifting to an end and whole-school events interrupting a few more lessons than usual.

With new challenges ahead, I’ve decided to focus largely on reflection and review – working out what happened this year and thus what should happen next year. Weirdly enough though, it only occurred to me this week that I should encourage the kids to do the same.

Cue my patented self-reflection lesson, tried and tested twice this week.

Note: This all followed a whole-school assembly in which the kids made notes on their whole school year.


Step one: Get all the books out

I dug out every exercise book from the year, and got the kids to go through each one, page by page, after reminding them of the topics/ units we have covered this year.


Step 2: Food for thought

Five questions to consider along the way:

What did you find most interesting?

What did you find most challenging?

What did you find most surprising?

What did you find most enjoyable?

What are you most proud of?


The kids then wrote a paragraph for each of these prompts. See?


Step 3: Pair share

Once finished, students swapped books with their partners (who they’ve worked with all year, decided using my Lego Brick Profiles). They had to read through the responses above, then quickly scribe one big conclusion and one big question  raised.


Step 4: Coaching

After this, I modelled a coaching conversation with one student, whereby I explained my own conclusions and asked probing questions based on what they had written. The kids then did the same, with a focus on drawing out detailed responses.


The kids really went for it. Lots of thoughtful questioning and interrogation, which led to some useful conclusions overall as to the shape of the year.


Step 5: Whole-class review

Finally, I gathered the class together to discuss their aims, hopes and dreams for next year. The conversation was a lot more meaningful and detailed than I think would have been achieved, had the kids not gone through a process of reflection and self-critique.


That’s it really. If you have any lessons left, I suggest having a go.

As ever, yours, in teaching,

-Unseen Flirtations



3 thoughts on “Don’t Look Back in Anger: Student Reflection and Review

  1. Hi again:-)
    I sometimes play around with metaphors and analogies for this if kids seem inclined to skim the surface and go through the motions in a dutiful but not particularly engaged way. It happens! Roads/journeys and rivers seem to work well. Of course you may need to nudge the focus back onto an evaluation of learning if the art work seems to be taking over but in my experience introducing metaphor and transformation to the reflection process creates sufficient cognitive challenge to reconfigure their thoughts and help them dig deeper. Stock images I provide are quite cheesy .. a sign post, a light bulb, a stop sign, a green leafy shoot … but kids usually come up with better ideas and additional refinements …..cross roads, steep hills etc etc. The collage approach can effectively act as a writing frame, since whatever is chosen, begs the question, ‘why have you chosen that?’ If a child is new/developing fluency in English, this approach gives him/her a chance to communicate in a more sophisticated way than simple sentence frames can provide.

    And the other dimension of course is feedback. I prefer this as ongoing dialogue if possible because it builds relationships during the year. But end of year is time for report cards and I’ve learned a lot by making these two way. In the past my classes have been kind but spot on about my fatal weakness for getting really into something and keeping going with it just a tad too long! I’m always really surprised when colleagues say kids are not effective evaluators of their learning and teachers’ delivery in classrooms. That’s never been my experience, either in the dialogue I’ve had with my students or the conversations I have with my own teenagers when they come home. Teachers’ kids maybe!

    Have you seen I think you might find the Town Meeting approach quite inspiring

    Also Rory Gallagher’s work on student feedback

    Rory is on twitter @EddieKayshun

    You have a great summer and write/post lots of pomes y’hear ?

    • Another stellar response worthy of its own blog post.

      I’ve used Blob Trees in the past (the Big Book of Blob Trees is full of them). You’re right – an additional figurative lens is a useful way into more reflective… reflections.

      Will explore those links and share with colleagues. Thanks for sharing!

      As ever, more on way…

      • I don’t know the Big Book of Blob Trees. Have anticipatory tingle at the very thought! Off to look ….

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