by Helen Beyne
At a time when yoga and meditation are part of the mainstream, terms such as self-reflection and metacognition have emerged as popular buzzwords even outside the field of neuroscience. The significance of these concepts is more than mere hype. Research has linked self-reflection to better emotional intelligence, higher confidence, greater mental flexibility, and even reduced risks of mood and anxiety disorders.
These benefits also apply to children. New research has indicated that teaching children how to self-reflect is a highly effective way to enhance learning. Keeping a journal is not the only way to help children self-reflect, however; the modern digital age offers a multitude of new and fun ways for you to implement self-reflection activities in your classroom.
The cognitive benefits of expressive writing cannot be overstated, and there are a wide variety of digital tools you can use to take your students’ writing beyond pencil and paper. This approach also aligns with the Common Core State Standards for Writing, which requires students of all ages to use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing. You might have your class keep a daily digital journal or set up a classroom blog where students can post their entries and discuss them with others. Penzu Classroom offers free online classroom journals that students can join with a class code, and they can easily share their entries with the entire class or with just a few students for discussion. Storybird is another free tool that allows students to publish journal entries, stories, or poems online. For young children or students who struggle with writing, it might be useful to provide a template that asks them to reflect on their day, week, or recent behavior.
Drawing is another activity that can be self-reflective and therapeutic. Having students use illustrations to explain what they did that day or describe how they are feeling can be an effective way to help them express themselves artistically. You can try these drawing apps and have your students post their drawings online. You could even have your students create illustrations for their writing. Little Bird Tales is a great tool that allows students to upload their illustrations online and record themselves analyzing and discussing what they drew.
Helping students record videos of themselves is another fun and easy way to help them self-reflect. Results of a recent study offered support for a concept known as instant video revisiting, in which children watch their activities immediately after they happen, reflect on them, and discuss them with a teacher. The study found that children are more reflective about what they have done when they explain what they are doing as they revisit video recordings. Apple’s iMovie or these movie-making apps make it easy for students to create, edit, and watch their own videos.
How else have you used technology to help your students self-reflect in the classroom? Let us know in the comments!
Helen Beyne is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development. She has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.