Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Power of Reflection

According to Wikipedia, "The phrase "objects in (the) mirror are closer than they appear" is a safety warning that is required[1] to be engraved on passenger side mirrors of motor vehicles in the USA, Canada , India and Saudi Arabia. It is present because while these mirrors' convexity gives them a useful field of view, it also makes objects appear smaller. Since smaller-appearing objects seem farther away than they actually are, a driver might make a maneuver such as a lane change assuming an adjacent vehicle is a safe distance behind, when in fact it is quite a bit closer.[2] The warning serves as a reminder to the driver of this potential problem."

Last weekend was TDO Reflection #1 Grading Days!  While you may not think that such a chore is worthy of  capitalization, the thought of grading 60 of these 2 - 5 page papers, for me it is the insight into the very being of my students and their learning.  TDO Reflections are a core part of Project Based Learning (PBL), and allow my students to reflect upon their independent projects while applying their learning from Themes in Literature to their personal project.  As we are focused on positive psychology this semester in our Happiness study, the hope is that the new found positivity will improve engagement and allow for greater risk-taking -- and maybe even a stab at potential failure -- as the boundaries are pushed. 

My hope, over the course of the semester, is that my students will progress through the stages of Webb's Depth of Knowledge, becoming more engaged, and finding flow in the process.  The first reflection is usually pretty generic, filled with entry-level interactions.  This is already proving to be a spectacular semester, with comments like these:

"...This isn't just a project anymore. It's a life goal and a part of life itself. It really cool to see just how much i got into this. I didn't think i would ever be this excited about a school project."

"...My hypothesis is that by surrounding yourself with positive messages, your brain is more receptive and can more effectively commit information to long term memory.  Because it can associate information with good feelings, it considers it to be important enough to save.  I think this could be a cool idea to test (as part of my project), like some sort of experiment to see how we perform based on the atmosphere we are in...."

    "...I do not think that the work I am doing reflects Webb's Depth of Knowledge Level One.  On this level, the activity is performed at an elementary level and the person has little experience.  Because I have played  soccer for a long time, I am more at the stage of concentrated development, where I analyze and practice the exact ways to do different skills and moves.  I have learned and reestablished the idea that I need time to physically debrief during the day. I function best when I am in shape and active. This is especially necessary during the school year, since I am buried in homework and need an outlet. Sometimes this time or activity could be reading, talking, resting, or playing an instrument. I enjoy all of these things, and they help to keep me balanced. However, the biggest (earthly:)) relief for me is being able to physically exercise and play a sport. These ideas were reiterated by my TDO; it was part of the reason I chose to practice soccer..." 

So, on Day #2 of journaling happiness, for my very own journey of 21 Days, I stand in awe of so many of my students, and am so very happy that they are seeing and finding joy in their explorations!  Indeed, the power of reflection truly gets my students to realize that they can get "much closer" than they think when looking in that mirror....

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