I have been thinking a lot about the type of reflection we ask our students to do and why we do it. In context of attempting to create an educational culture that’s enables and fosters creativity, reflection is an important tool. At the moment when our students reflect on their learning it is in a journal form, mainly written in a book. This has obvious limitations. The most noticeable one is that the only people that will see this reflection are the child who has written it and (maybe) the teacher.
We are attempting to create an environment where each child is inundated with as many ideas as possible. Creativity is often born from the individual’s ability to take two or three disparate ideas, join them together in a way no one else can see and by doing so create a brand new idea.
If a child is not constantly accessing different ideas then the opportunity to do this is limited. If only using the reflection model of a journal in a book, spoken of previously, as only 2 people will be inputting into the reflection, there is the potential that neither the child nor the teacher has any good ideas what so ever and therefore that creative process becomes limited.
I have been working with Richard Olsen from Ideas Lab on this matter and together we have been experimenting with a reflection template built in a Buddy Press platform.This emulates a social network eg Facebook which allows for a flow of ideas, plus other things such as peer to peer learning.
At the moment I am using this template in a project I am working on (alongside Kristen Swenson) using the game Minecraft. The students driving question for this project was “can you teach an area of our schools curriculum through the game Minecraft” (yes – they were doing some research for me). When it come time to reflect they login to their template where they have all created their own profile and they fill in a fairly simple form.
The power of this system is that as it operates as a social network each child can go to any other students reflection, read it and leave a comment with some advice, something they had noticed, some encouragement etc. Furthermore all of the groups that are forming up around the project question are listed down the left hand side. Each student can go and look at the other projects reflection and read, comment etc. At any stage a student is able to leave their own project and join another group if they realise that it is more suited to them or they have more to add in that project than their current one. A number of students have done exactly that over the term strengthening the new projects they have joined as well as inspiring their own creative thinking by having an influx of new ideas coming at them all the time.
As the teacher at no stage have I had to limit the students by my own lack of knowledge.
This reflective template also draws ideas from the iterative reflective cycle used by software developers using the Agile Methodology as their base.
Johnson’s “Where good ideas come from?” video really highlighted the contribution of other people on our own creativity and this project is a great translation of that. I am wondering if you would like feedback for your students from other Minecrafters from another school? Could they contribute in any way?
Let me know .
Yeah that is the ultimate idea – to open the feedback channels so that ideas can flow in from every source.
Are your students working in Minecraft?
We took a group to Quantum, but many were basic beginners, some were experienced and have continued. I want to encourage it more and this could be a way?
Fantastic. We need something like this at my school
I definitely agree… reflection is a critical step in the creative process and one which works best with greater external input. I see the refection template as being a fantastically powerful tool to support this process and one which allows students to see, learn and teach to and from others. As Kynan said, it definitely removes the need for me to be the expert and really works to foster a culture of creativity and community.
I now see this effect across my entire classroom, one where students readily jump up to help each other in all areas of their work and will seek out the advice of other students before coming to me. The process removes the stigma of not knowing and recognises the power of collaboration.
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