Thinking about Thinking & Reflecting on Reflection

I am Brooke Sims, a Digital Learning Coach at Coppell High School and I have recently had the honor to work alongside Sam and witness her genius at work. Thank you, Sam, for inviting me to contribute to your blog and offer perspective!

A couple of weeks ago, I was ecstatic to receive an email from Sam asking if I would consider being a thought-partner with her as she designed her upcoming unit. I jumped at this opportunity because I knew I would learn so much from her! As Sam explained in the previous post, we started chatting, collaborating and bouncing ideas off one another and soon her initial idea to incorporate a "making meaning" mural turned into a beautiful and robust learning experience.

Today, I observed Sam's learners as they began their journey to explore and make meaning to uncover "The Big Picture". Last week, Sam and I worked together nightly using Google docs to curate resources she would carefully place into ports.

Haven't heard of ports? 

Educators who utilize ports plan intentionally and understand the goal(s) of their learning experience first. Then, they purposefully plan and design ports for learners to explore based on individual needs and choice. Ports are different from traditional stations because, in contrast to stations, not every individual is required to visit every port and stay there for a prescribed amount of time. Often times, learners are given a self-assessment to reveal areas of weakness and are encouraged to visit ports that would help them acquire the knowledge they need to be successful in their next steps. Furthermore, learners can move freely from port to port and spend as much or a little time as needed at each one. Extremely efficient educators design and house ports in a digital format that can be accessed later, anytime and anywhere.

Sam articulated two goals for the development of these ports as we were planning. One was for her learners to become aware of the value of reflection and the second was for them to identify how they preferred to reflect. Sam utilized a Tackk to house the ports and I love that she varied modalities within each port (videos/articles/infographics) - acknowledging and appealing to the learning styles of all of the learners in her classroom.


As I walked around Sam's classroom today, I witnessed learners engaging in conversations about how they THINK and how they PROCESS. My reflective, introverted heart fluttered with excitement as I watched the "wallflowers" write silently in their notebooks or sketch-note on their iPads. I value reflection as much as I value breathing - I know that sounds dramatic, but in this fast-paced world, slowing down and having time to fully develop ideas is vital.








A couple of learners I talked with me while I was in the room praised Sam on being the first educator to challenge them to think about what it means to reflect with purpose and in a way that is meaningful to them. One learner, Antonia, expressed how excited she was to explore sketch-noting while Tori was excited to know that her dialectical journal could be filled with reflections that meant something to her. She explained that she is required to reflect in many classes, but within certain parameters and she felt liberated to know her journal would now be "hers" alone.

C223 was buzzing with excitement today. I can't wait to go back and witness how the kids' reflections will support the discussions that will take place during the "meeting of the minds" (literature circles) in the upcoming days!

Thank you to Sam and her learners, for teaching me today!

Brooke

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