Friday, March 26, 2010


This week I spent some time reading and thinking about the practice of reflecting.  As a high school and college student, I often spent time reflecting on my writing, on readings, or on experiences, and at that point, it seemed more like a requirement, something to check off of the list and be finished with. When I was a student teacher, my cooperating teacher, required me to keep a reflective journal.  It started off as more of a listing of the day's events, focusing on procedure, but luckily my cooperating teacher was skilled in the practice of reflection, and she was able to help me move from that procedural type of thinking to a much deeper practice of metacognition that guided me to strengthening my beginning as a teacher.

I enjoyed reading "Fostering Reflection" by Lana Danielson because it clearly outlines the four types of thinking and connects those modes to reflective practice.  This prompted me to think about how I normally reflect and how we as teachers ask students to reflect.  I hadn't really thought about different kinds of thinking and how it could relate to reflection; it may be a bit shallow, but I thought reflection is reflection.  And I have to believe that this is a common assumption.  So let's look at the four types of thinking and how reflection can be used as a component of student learning.

  1. Technologic or Formulaic Thinking-- procedural thinking that is based on pre-existing knowledge that comes from somewhere outside of the thinker
    1. This kind of reflective thinking would be good for students to examine a process that is based on an already-established protocol.
  2. Situational Thinking-- thinking that is rooted in an immediate moment in time and does not look beyond the moment to any root causes
    1. Students can be urged to use situational thinking to guide behavior from moment to moment, but this kind of thinking will not serve to solve any core problems.
  3. Deliberate Thinking-- deeper thinking that is used to go beyond the immediate situation to understand the core issue
    1. Students can use this type of thinking to understand better understand a process or situation.  The students can call on outside expertise.  The students can reflect on a procedure that they are engaging in within a group project or within a lab environment, in order to understand why it is or is not working.
  4. Dialectical Thinking-- thinking that builds on deliberate thinking to generate solutions
    1. This is the perfect kind of thinking to use in a project-based learning situation as the students work through an issue and proposing solutions.
What is so great about reflection is that it can be done in a variety of modes-- peer-to-peer discussions, writing exercises, graphic organizers, etc.  And these can be enhanced through technology tools and resources to promote creative and deep thinking.  For example, blogs mainly focus on writing, but a reflective blog can contain images, video, audio, and writing, which engages more of a student's thinking and provides outlets that will help to generate a higher level of thinking.

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