Curated storytelling as reflection
As reminded by John Dewey, the famous American educator and philosopher, "we don't learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experiences." It is through reflections that we connect dots (linking prior learning with new acquired knowledge, understanding and skills) and make sense of our experiences. It is a powerful way of thinking that helps us develop personal growth in all aspects and enables us to develop confidence and capacity. Examining attributes of successful people in different professional fields, we often identify one common quality that contributes to their success. That is being reflective. Having a reflective mindset has been crucial and will remain paramount for us when generating innovative ideas and solutions in the unknown future.
Reflection (way of thinking) is a core element of the MYP inquiry cycle and assessed in different subject groups. Reflection requires intension and critical thinking (analyzing, inferencing, explaining, evaluating, conceptualizing). These are the skills that require explicitly coaching and scaffolding. Students are often asked to reflect through question and answer format, written communication or video recording. I sometimes feel that students perceive reflection is time consuming and tedious. If we, teachers as facilitators, are not mindful and intensional, students end up recording superficial random events of what happened but not deeply analyzing the 'how' and the 'why' for moving forward. Another observation is that students often collect 'everything' on their learning portfolio without editing. Instead, students should be taught and have opportunities to practice on how to curate their stories, focusing on quality but not quantity. Through curated reflective practices, students could be encouraged to think as an artist, a photographer, a food critic, a musician, a museum curator and so on.
After reading Intension written by Amy Burvall and Dan Ryder, I begin to rethink the ways of how we could encourage students in reflecting critically and creatively on their learning. What are possible ways for them to make meaning out of learning experiences? Many creative ideas are provided in the book, Intension. I also re-read Jennifer Gonzalez's blog post, To Boost Higher-Order Thinking. Try Curation. I notice these great strategies engage students in using multimodal communication for reflective thinking tasks. It will make sense for students to reflect through multimodal texts as we currently live in an increasingly multimodal world. Teachers can guide students to reflect through different forms of modality. It is very important to set up 'creative constraints' and we also need to remember that "What matters is the quality of analysis, not the medium through which the evidence is delivered." Students must interpret their learning, explain and synthesize their thinking, and learn how to justify their choices.
10 ways to curate reflection
- Photo essay: Students choose a series of photos that capture their learning and thinking. They give captions and write short paragraphs to each photo selected.
- Infographic reflection: Students organize and communicate learning in a graphic format, which is a combination of texts, icons, charts, graphs or images. Encourage students to consider how fonts, colors, graphics, and imagery can help convey an effective visual message.
- Graffiti: Student can create a "graffiti wall" manually or digitally that captures their learning.
- Quotes: Teachers can provide a page of quotes or have students search quotes from books or from the internet. Students choose relevant quotes relating to their learning and provide explanation.
- Phecha Kucha: Phecha Kucha means "chit chat" in Japanese. It's a powerpoint presentation and presenters can only allowed 20 slides and those slides must automatically advance every 20 seconds. Phecha Kucha style presentation focuses on visuals, rather than text-heave texts.
- Song playlist: Students select perhaps songs from Youtube or Spotify. They can use lyrics from the song to make connections with their learning. Alternatively, they can also create a top ten list to reflect on their learning.
- Vlogging; Students create a short video to reflect on their learning and post it on their website (or their e-portfolio). It will be useful to discuss with students what vlog is and key elements in a vlog. Additionally, teachers can also share with students a couple of good vlogs.
- Drama: Students can create a drama performance, such as monologue, skit or pantomime to share their learning.
- Mini documentary: A mini documentary is one way to share stories and convey a message.
- Musical composition: students can compose a piece or write a song that captures their learning. (Alternatively, they can also choose a song and create a music video.)
Critical reflection is the process by which curiosity and experience can lead to deeper understanding. Learners must become critically aware of the way they use evidence, methods and conclusions. Reflection also involves being conscious of potential bias and inaccuracy in their own work and in the work of others. (MYP: from principles into practices, 11)
- Burvall, Amy, and Dan Ryder. Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom. EdTechTeam Press, 2017.
- Gonzalez, Jennifer. “To Boost Higher-Order Thinking, Try Curation.” Cult of Pedagogy, 21 Sept. 2018, www.cultofpedagogy.com/curation/.
- International Baccalaureate. MYP: from principles into practices.