Tagged Reflection

PAGES Follow Up: Moments of Awe and Transformation

Miwa Matreyek performs her play This World Made Itself.  Here is a link to Matreyek's website http://www.semihemisphere.com/#/thisworldmadeitself/

Miwa Matreyek performs her play This World Made Itself from Matreyek’s website.


After students’ field trip to the Wexner Center to see Miwa Matreyek, I visited Mandy Bruney and Dawn Brosnan’s class to reflect and introduce an assignment.

Here were the learning targets for the lesson:

  • I can reflect on an experience and create meaning from it.
  • I can engage in a collaborative conversation that includes both active listening and respectful participation.
  • I can gather real-world research to start the writing process.

Students began the lesson by reflecting on the play through writing (see the Power Point at the bottom of the post for prompt).  Then, we discussed what they had written.

Afterward, we introduced the assignment to gather real-world research for writing (see below) and discussed examples of “moments of awe” and “moments of transformation” in daily life.

The lesson would have ended with this video called The Beauty of a Second, which is a one-minute compilation of beautiful moments of daily life captured on film; however, technological difficulties inhibited this part of the lesson.

Here is the student outcome expected following the lesson:

Student Assignment

  • Awe: A feeling of wonder
  • Transformation: to change in form, appearance or character

Miwa Matreyek explains her process as “daydreaming” and gathering “abstract ideas” from her daily life before she actually begins to create her performances.  She describes how the piece we all saw was inspired by everything from her plane rides as she traveled for work to the dioramas she saw in a history museum.  This “real world” research eventually leads to a physical product, but the process always starts by information gathering through notes, sketches and pictures. 

For this assignment, you will begin by spending the next 48 hours gathering real world research that inspires you.  You can choose to either gather “moments of awe” or “moments of transformation” in your daily life.  You need to write notes about these things and record your:

  • Observations
  • Questions
  • Reflections
  • Sketches
  • Pictures
  • Poems   

All information you gather needs to be brought back to class tomorrow; you will continue to use it as the beginning of your creative process.   

This assignment would eventually lead into students creating a piece of writing related to these notes and observations and connected to themes in the play.  Bruney told me she plans on having students conduct a silent “gallery walk” in the classroom where student work is displayed and classmates leave post-it-note feedback for one another about the writing.  In addition, some of the students’ work might be submitted to potentially be published in the PAGES anthology.

Here are the resources for the lesson:

Writer’s Workshop: Using and Reflecting on Peer Feedback

As stated in a previous Writer’s Workshop post, Leslie Harris and I planned a unit together focusing on the revision process and giving effective feedback.

Based upon previous experience, I had realized the need for a more formalized product to come out of the workshopping sessions.  To this end, I created a resource where students were asked to do the following:

  • During workshop: Record feedback received
  • Immediately after workshop: Provide a summary of feedback and plan for improvement
  • After the final paper is completed: Provide a summary on specific changes made and a reflection on what was learned from the workshop process

Harris’ plan is to mandate the revision of papers after the workshop session is completed and have them turn in the draft and “Writer’s Workshop Reflection” with the final paper.

Here is the resource we used for this lesson:

Visual to Text Literacy: Using Engaging Images for Metacognitive Gains

Created by Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison and available at this link:  http://parkeharrison.com/architect-s-brother

This is the image used in Tim Starkey’s lesson.  Created by Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison and available at this link:

For a moment, ponder and name the thinking skills involved in comprehension of material.

Regardless of the content, you might have come up with ideas like: gathering observations, making connections, and asking meaningful questions among other things.

These are all strategies teachers use for reading comprehension, and although students might be exposed to these types of thinking regularly, do they really understand what they are doing or why?

The “Extended Looking” lesson I have been using in teachers’ classrooms addresses the metacognitive skills needed to build comprehension through two methods:

1.  Exposing them to the explicit language of comprehension so they may use these skills consciously in the future for other purposes.

2.  Providing practice with these strategies to build confidence for future endeavors.

Here are the learning targets for the Extended Looking lesson I used in Tim Starkey’s class last week.

  1. I can observe closely and critically.
  2. I can actively listen and contribute meaningful ideas to a conversation that results in deeper learning for others and myself.
  3. I can ask meaningful questions to help to drive dialogue.
  4. I can write a statement supported by evidence that reflects a deep understanding of a theme.

I have posted about this activity previously, but I have expanded on the resources and applications for teachers.  Here are the materials I provided to Tim Starkey when we used the Extended Looking method in his AP 12 classroom (These are also provided as a downloadable copy in the attachments at the end of this post):


Extended Looking Lesson Instructions

*Note: timing on this is tentative and depends upon the class and the conversation.

  1. Review and discuss the learning targets
  2. Put the image on the overhead.  Ask students to look closely at the art – you can move around, get closer etc. Write down observations and try to list at least ten (5 min.)
    • Prompt students to “keep looking” even when they think they are done
    • Ask them to begin with the obvious and then look closer for the details
    • Consider textures, colors, posturing of figures etc.
  3. Discuss the visual image.  What is happening in the photo/image?  Here you are noting details and making observations, no talk of meaning yet (5 min)
    • Recognize and label “meaning statements” and then redirect back to gathering evidence
    • Explain that gathering evidence ultimately leads to better conclusions
  4. Make connections to and ask questions about the art in writing. What are your thoughts about the piece, what does it remind you of, can you connect it to anything etc.  (5 min.)
    • Prompt students to consider text, image, film, music and personal connections
    • Prompt students to ask meaningful questions that help their peers to think deeper into the image
  5. Discuss the connections/questions students found in the piece and continue to have students use the evidence they have gathered to support their perspective (5 min.)
    • At this point begin asking, “What makes you say that?”  Seek to help students explain their perspective; ask them to point back to the evidence in the image when possible
    • Possibly write these on the board (or have a student do this) so that everyone has a visual.
  6. Introduce and model a theme statement for students.  Have students write a “theme statement” for what they think the piece of art means and support it with evidence from the art itself (10 min.)
    • In this context, the theme formula is: Topic + Opinion; another way to say this is what is the piece about (in a single word) what is the author/artist trying to say in regard to this topic

    i.     EX: Topic (creativity) + Opinion (it leads to alienation when ideas are “before their time”)
    ii.     Theme Statement: Creativity can lead one to be alienated when his or her ideas are not                                           yet accepted or recognized by those around them because they are too forward thinking.

    • Collect these to formatively assess students learning of the objectives
  1. Optional: On a different day, tell them the name and a little about the artist. Does this change your perspective on the piece?  Are you glad you know?  (They usually are not.)
  2. Reflect: What surprised you about this activity?  What did you learn? How does it relate to ELA and to reading specifically?  What skills did you practice?  How will you use them in the future?
    • This is a very important aspect of the activity.  Students have to have time to recognize the learning that has taken place and ponder how it will apply to the tasks they are being asked to do in the future.
    • This would be an excellent place to discuss and compare where students gained and where they did not to guide future instruction as well.



  • Before step five, have students write short form poetry about the art or a piece of narrative
  • Talk about the process of how the art was created and use it to model students own work in writing after the activity


Connections to help students make during the activity

(and especially during the reflection)

  • Literature and visual art are very similar and we can talk about them the same way and go through the same process of analysis with them
  • An artist or writer has an intent, but viewer/reader also bring their own experience to the table to create “meaning;” however, whoever’s meaning it is, it must be supportable with evidence, and it must be logical for anyone else to trust or understand it.  (This is relevant to literary analysis and argumentative writing.)
  • Students can help one another learn by building on thoughts and ideas.  This can help to clarify thinking as well.
  • These processes: observation, making connections and asking questions and building meaning (individually and collaboratively) are processes that are used outside of the classroom.  They are problem solving and thinking processes used in every field from science to art.


Probing questions/statements for the teacher

  • What makes you say that?
  • Can you show me where you see that evidence (ask them to come to the image)?
  • Do you all agree with this idea?
  • Does anyone disagree with this idea?
  • What else do you see?
  • That is an interesting idea.  Can you tell me more about…


Teacher Resources:

“Zoom In” Strategy Part II: Reflection and Application to Text

After I left Laura’s classroom, she did some really interesting work on her own.  First of all, she had students reflect on the experience in a number of ways and shared these reflections with me.  Here is a picture of the discussion guide she gave to students:


The responses she received showed students making many connections from the activity to working with texts.  For example, students said such text-based skills might be “interpreting” what is not directly explained by an author, “hypothesizing” about what will happen in the future of a text, and looking for “context clues” in texts to determine meaning.

Students also identified that as they continued to look closer and for longer in the activity, they were able to think of the “deeper meaning,” look more “critically” and “wonder” about more things.  In addition, one student said that when he doesn’t understand something he would “ask meaningful questions” about it to help him understand.

Laura followed this reflection by reading the back cover of Of Mice and Men with students and discussing what they might hypothesize the book will be about.  Students made connections to Naturalism and the book cover to make predictions.

Laura plans to continue to build on this activity through examining foreshadowing in the text and predicting future events with students as they read.

3-2-1 Strategy: Alternative to Exit Tickets

3 2 1 Screen JPEGHere is a form students can use for this strategy (link for actual form at the bottom of the post)

The assessment is called “3-2-1.”  This is an activity from Making Thinking VisibleIt is intended to see how students thinking expands or changes on a topic/key idea/skill after you have provided novel information.  It would be an interesting replacement for an exit ticket.  It might also be a way to explore “thinking” or “process” skills (Ex: collaboration, critical thinking, inference, hypothesis etc.) .  The instructions are as follows:

Part I

Before the lesson

1.  Write a word on the board for which you will provide new information (Ex.: historical event, literary time period, presentation skill, thinking strategy etc.)

2.  Have students write the following:

  • 3 words they associate with the topic/key idea/skill
  • 2 questions they have about the topic/key idea/skill
  • 1 metaphor about the topic/key idea/skill

3.  At this point, I thought it was helpful to discuss/share student ideas before teaching the lesson, watching the video, reading the passage etc.

Part II

After the lesson

1.  Have students review the 3-2-1 from before the lesson/new information

2.  Repeat step 2 from Part I, asking students to consider initial responses and how thinking has changed

3.  Discuss/reflect on the changes with students

4.  Collect the 3-2-1 from students for formative assessment

Here is a 3 2 1 Strategy handout to give to students.

The Art and Struggle of Storytelling

Some of the central questions to narrative study are: why do we tell stories, what can we learn from them about ourselves and others, and what makes a story relevant and engaging?  Throughout this week, a number of teachers explored these questions as they began narrative units, and some utilized a storytelling strategy designed by Kevin Cordy (a professor from Dominican University and a professional storyteller).  In the activity, students begin to explore narrative through the art of storytelling.  I saw three variations on the strategy that all had strengths.

The first one was used by Melissa Larisch.  She began the lesson by going over norms for group work.


Then, students were grouped in sets of five and given the list of prompts.  They had two minutes to tell a story of his or her choice, and after each one, there was a one minute period of positive feedback.  She also used the timer suggested by Eric Koch on his list of “helpful resources” sent out last week to keep time for transitions. The next day, the students rehashed the activity and identified areas of struggle.

Renee Jackson used the same list of prompts, but instead grouped students and had them complete the following two activities:

1.  Discuss what makes a good movie or story.

2.  Write the beginning to your own story of choice and be prepared to share with your group members.

Renee focused on the idea of a beginning to a story that would make the reader want to read the rest.  After all of the groups had time to share with one another, then they picked the favorite and read it to the rest of the class aloud.

Dave Watros and Diana Glanzman paired two students to share a story aloud, and each person got to pick the prompt that they wanted to hear from their partner.  Then, after they shared, they moved on to a another partner, and told the same story to a new person.  As homework, students wrote about what they learned from the activity.  The next day they shared what they learned in groups and also shared what they learned about themselves from the activity.

When Dave and I circulated to talk to students in groups, the things they learned were really interesting.  While some cited specific elements of others’ lives, others discussed the the varying degrees of truth or the range of creativity of their peers.

One of the challenges that the teachers identified for students was the ability/confidence to share stories with one another.  Public speaking, especially combined with narrative, may be a novel skill for many high school students.

However, this activity does introduce students to later speaking and listening standards.  It also introduces the concept of narrative through exploring storytelling.  One element that seemed to be really important in the activity was the ability to reflect on the experience and examine the skills required and how the struggles faced could be overcome.  It might even be a good idea to chunk this activity over a couple of days with short stints each day (maybe a warm up the first five minutes of class?) with a rehash each time to see what students learned about narrative and public speaking through the activity.

Here is a copy of the story prompts these teachers used: Storytelling Scavenger Hunt.