The Value of Reflection

Reflection is essential to successful art-making and content learning. Anticipate using reflection so that it will not become an after-thought. It can be challenging to tear students away from an engaging art activity. To aid in the process of reflection, give students ample warning that the activity is coming to a close. We recommend 25 percent of an art-making lesson be devoted to reflection and 75 percent to actual art-making. Not all lessons within a unit will require reflection. Align your reflection to your unit goals and standards. By providing time for reflection, you are giving your students the chance to make connections that may not have been clear to them while they were involved in the actual art-making. Student reflections may be captured in written form in student journals or through drawings and designs, and may be open-ended or more teacher-structured with specific questions that get students to think about their thinking. You can help students revisit the art-making process by showing them photographs or videos. Reflection strategies can be used across content areas to gauge student learning.

Making Learning Visible

The process of making learning visible involves a teacher or teaching team using multiple forms of documentation such as photographs, video clips, student journal entries, student interviews, and teacher observations to make student learning visible. During the creation of this visual representation of student learning, the teachers engage in discourse with their peers around the learning that is happening in the classroom. If you do not have a teaching team, seek out a critical friend with whom to share this process. The goal is for teachers to be analyzing the student learning, assessing student development, and determining where the teaching and learning can go.

In line with creating a visual representation of student learning that is visible to a larger learning community, we have found using documentation panels (32" x 40" foam core board) to be most effective. The panel is introduced to students during the course of a unit and serves as a reminder of what they have done to date. Sharing the panel with students and the learning community creates opportunity for further exploration into the content area going forward. Unlike a bulletin board that displays final work, the reflective documentation panel shows process-based work and invites further predictions from the students and teachers about where the learning is going. This process of revisiting material invites higher-order thinking. Students synthesize, analyze, and problem solve specific moments in the learning journey. The panels are reflective and prospective. Please see the "Assessment: Mapping Student Learning" chapter for step-by-step instructions for creating a documentation panel.

Getting Started