Writing More Reflectively

Writing More Reflectively

Writing more reflectively is hard! We are trying to encourage our students to use their blogs to write more reflectively, especially as we lean more and more towards using the blogging platform as a suitable “container” for ePortfolios.  Below is a post that we’re sharing with our G4 and G5 student bloggers.

Writing More Reflectively

Not sure what to write for a reflection post? Here’s a few questions you could ask yourself to help you get started! Some are more suited to Writer’s Workshop or Reader’s Workshop reflections. Some are suitable for Science, Social Studies or Math reflections. Choose the ones that work best for what you would like to say about your learning.


  • What did you do well?
  • What didn’t go so well?
  • If you could do this again, what would you do differently?
  • How could you improve your work next time?
  • Is what you are currently reading/viewing or studying challenging you in any way? In what way?
  • What is puzzling you as you are reading at present? (About the author, characters, ideas etc.)
  • What specific questions are being raised by what you are reading?
  • Can you make any connections between what you are reading/viewing and everyday life, history, situations in the world, any other subject you are studying or your own life?
  • Write down 3 questions you have for an author of a text you are reading/viewing/studying at present. Explain why you have asked those questions.
  • What are you learning about yourself from what you are reading/viewing/studying? (Your own values, attitudes and beliefs)

Instead of a question, you could try some of these sentence starters:


  • This week I learned …
  • What I have found difficult about what I have read/viewed/heard this week is …
  • My writing and reading skills …  (reflect on them and your efforts, areas of strength and weakness providing specific examples)
  • My listening and speaking skills …  (reflect on them and your efforts, areas of strength and weakness providing specific examples)

Or you could try this format – What? So What? Now What?: (adapted from Service Learning)

What happened?
What did you observe?

So What?
Did you learn a new skill or clarify an interest?
Did you hear, smell, or feel anything that surprised you?
How is your experience different from what you expected?
What impacts the way you view the situation/experience? (What lens are you viewing from?)
What did you like/dislike about the experience?

Now What?
What seemed to be the root causes of the issues you experienced? OR  What seemed to be the root causes of the issue addressed in this project/learning?
What other work are you doing to help address the difficulties you experienced? OR What other work is currently happening to address the issue?
What learning occurred for you in this experience?
How can you apply this learning?
What would you like to learn more about, related to this project/piece of learning?
What follow up is needed to address any challenges or difficulties you had with this project/learning?
What information can you share with your peers/teachers/family?
If you could do the project/learning again, what would you do differently?

These questions/sentence starters are just a guide to help you get started.

What do you think?

I’d like to adapt this for our G3 student bloggers as well.  What do you think? What’s missing? What would you add or change?

Note: Original post written in 2010; Updated 2011/05; Updated and Revised 2017/12; Cross-posted on the Technology and Learning Blog.

ASBUP2010 Journey into the world of ePortfolios

ASBUP2010 Journey into the world of ePortfolios

Hot on the heels of Dr Helen Barrett’s session on  ePortfolios, I was extremely fortunate to head off to the ASB’s Grade 3 Team and their presentation “Moving Towards the Centre – Grade 3’s journey into the world of ePortfolios”  This team and their gorgeous students use google sites as their platform for ePortfolios.  They have been working with Dr Helen Barrett on their learning journey.
The Team:  Scott Hoffman (Teacher) Erica Barclay, Nitasha Chaudhuri.
Below are my notes from their presentation, as I blogged it “live” whilst this session was presented.
(Note: my notes are in italics – not bold but bracketed)

Be constructivists – and hand that over to the kids

When you learn something together, one undervalued thing is the relationships you create.
Co-conspirators – benefit of constructivism

Showed movie about the students’ thoughts

(this was very cute – Their thoughts/words below)
Saved, Organised
You can put a lot of things on it for infinity
Better than binders – use anytime you like (binders only use at school)
Keeps track of what we do
You can share it with people from other sides of the world – you can show it to the people you really want to share it with – Everyone will know that you are talented.  (I love that!)
When you move – you don’t have to start all over again.
Learn more about tech
It’s more about yourself
Helps you learn to be better organised
Helps us learn
Paper’s not fun – video is way better
You can put all this stuff on it
I emailed it to myself and showed my mum
Tells a story about me
Shows people who I am
It will be so much fun to see how much better I’ve become
Reflect on my goals
Share my portfolio pretty often

What do you need to know before you start?

Knowing what we’re after –  wanted this to circle around itself.
Self-assessors, students who own & initiate their learning, metacognitvie thinkers.
Making goals with the end in mind, reflecting on those goals.
Ask what they are curious about – project based from there – reflect on that.
Students are now asking “Can I put this in my portfolio?”

Things we had in place BEFORE

1:1 environment (and IT staff it rode in on) would have been harder with tucked in slots – ease of access,
Scott’s enthusiasm (pivotal for motivation)
Developing a starting understanding of Google sites (for us it would be blogs)
(Swine flu – was catalyst for distance learning – forced the school to shut and run for 1 week)
Access to an expert (Dr Helen Barrett)
Given ideas, nudged,
Keyboarding proficiency (all across G3 worked on a typing programme – hugely helped what they do now with their eportfolio)
Focus on telling learning stories
Read: The Power of Portfolios by Elizabeth Herbert (mentioned this morning by Helen)

Preparing to Launch

Digital citizenship guidelines (be safe online) Grade 3-5 – posted in the Ning
(wanted to stick to same rules)
Usual stuff for publishing online – parents sign when they join the school – stuck to these with ePortfolios so that they can be online too
Google sites can be password protected –
Meaning Audience
Wanted portability,  if student moves – can it move with them
Commenting – not quite available – may be coming
Building the sites
Creating a template: Shared this template across the grades
Announcement pages,(posts like a blog)
Academic pages,
Personal pages, (this is me page, their space – like a personal learning wall, images, quotes etc – personal stuff)
Sparing the specialists, (as it was pilot year)
Just right settings (we as teachers are the owners, children are collaborators so they don’t have the right to delete the site – teachers can arrange for them to take the site with them)


Connectivity issues
Unable to Save
Only one scanner  (discovered – not enough) set up scanner stations by putting the 3 grade 3 scanners together.
Willing to take a risk, and go with it, experiment
Supportive environment – only pressure came from themselves.
Teach one or two – then they teach – power of teaching goes to students
Spreads like a virus – becomes less about the tech – focus goes back to the ePortfolio – takes a while to build that

Big Findings

ePortfolios are a live part of our classroom
Critical evaluation (ownership)
Everyday use easier than anticipated (after initial hurdles)
Point of reference – already thinking when they start their work – “I want to put this in my portfolio”
Next years teachers will just have to open the computers – and let it happen.
(Had a conversation with the Grade 4 team yet?  Not really sure if they have done this?  Have to wonder about that? This question was then asked in the Q & A – Really only enjoying the fact that they can experiment with something – not that far down the track. Not sure if they have really thought this through? – Am thinking that it’s odd that no conversations have been had with the next grade up. Wondering how students will feel if they don’t get a chance in class to keep their portfolio going – why invest any effort at any level? )

Q & A’s from the audience

How much time do you spend on the ePortfolios – average per day?

Spend most of the day on the computer (student’s words)
Sometimes spend 2 hours on the portfolio.
Not structured with the class – if they want to put something on the ePortfolio they are allowed to.
Part of the reading workshop now- lines are starting to blur

How important is it to be 1:1 to do this?

Easy access makes a difference.

What can’t you do with your computer that you’d like to do in the classroom?

(Student answers)
I’d like to be able to add more stuff in the future (a schedule that I can keep track of)
Free time all the time

What would you differently – if you can do this again?

(Teacher answers)
Announcement pages from the start
Looking forward – more reflection – setting goals and reflecting on them
Having an Audience – need to have a way for comments – students need to have that feedback.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this was a most informative session.  I was lucky enough to be sitting at a table with parents of one of the children in the presentation (and I got a peak at her ePortfolio too as she showed it to her Mum & Dad).  The parents were very pleased with the ePortfolio setup, it’s access from home, and the difference they felt it made to their daughter’s confidence.

“She puts a lot of effort into her ePortfolio and is very proud of it.”