Secondary Schools

Scaffolding Reflection in Secondary Schools

According to Porter and Cleland (1995), in their classic book The Portfolio as a Learning Strategy, their work with high school students led to their belief:
... in the power of reflection that helped us move beyond seeing about portfolio as a mere alternative to traditional assessment to appreciating its value as a learning strategy.  In this capacity, portfolios become vehicles for reflection in which learners examine where they have been, where they are now, how they got there, and where they need to go next. (p.34)

This book provides practical evidence to support their findings about reflection, based on their experiences. Reflection allows learners to:
  • examine their learning process.
  • take responsibility for their own learning.
  • see "gaps" in their learning.
  • determine strategies that supported their learning.
  • celebrate risk taking and inquiry.
  • set goals for future experiences.
  • see changes and development over time.
There are a growing number of resources to support reflection in secondary schools. The most ambitious and comprehensive program was conducted in Europe to support a research project called More Self Esteem with my E-Portfolio (MOSEP), which addressed the growing problem of adolescents (aged 14 to 16) dropping out of the formal education system around Europe.
The focus of the project lies in the development of a study, identifying the needs of teachers, trainers and vocational counsellors, an online course for the support of teachers, trainers and vocational counsellors as well as accompanying materials for better understanding of e-portfolios as a method for self-organised and competence oriented learning.

MOSEP Training Module 2: Reflection on the learning processes
Edutopia Article: Creating a Culture of Student Reflection: Self-Assessment Yields Positive Results

Learning to Blog Using Paper - a 7th Grade Teacher's introduction to blogging (starting with a paper exercise) and using "sticky notes" as comments. Here are the instructions for students (provided in Scribd):
- Seventh Grade Blogging Rules
- The Art and Aspirations of a Commenter

Forms and Examples

Newport News Public Schools Reflection of Learning (PDF) - part of their Career Pathways Digital Portfolios:
  • Backward-Looking Questions
  • Inward-Looking Questions
  • Outward-Looking Questions
  • Forward-Looking Questions
Examples of reflection in blogs used to document English as a second-language at a high school in Spain:

Including a high school senior's Digital Media Portfolio created using VoiceThread developed as part of Global Kids, Inc.

Intermediate/Middle Level Strategies

High School Strategies from Mahoney, J. (2002). Power and portfolios: best practices for high school classrooms. Portsmouth: Heinemann

Portfolio Work Tag from Stefanakis, E. (2002). Multiple Intelligences and Portfolios. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

Reflection on Artifact, shared at workshop in New Hampshire

Reflection on Artifact

Questions for reflection in blogs (Cambridge High School, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Did I complete the task and submit it on time?
  • Did I use my time effectively?
  • Did I understand the purpose of this task for my learning?
  • How did I go about completing the task?
  • What skills did I need to complete the task?
  • What learning tools did I use? (including elearning tools)
  • What strengths did I demonstrate inorder to complete the task?
  • What challenges were there for my learning in this task?
  • What strategies could you use to improve?
  • How could I have managed this task better? 
  • Did I communicate what I learnt effectively

  • Thanks to Chad Bates, International School Bangkok

    We are planning a thematic approach for our Middle School, where students will be given class time to reflect on both their academic and non-academic achievements.  The four categories they will write under are:
    • CHALLENGES: This is where I recognize and reflect upon the risks and challenges I have taken on as a student and a person.
    • CELEBRATIONS:  This is where I show examples of how I’ve set, worked towards and achieved goals.
    • CONTRIBUTIONS: This is where I show examples of how I’ve contributed to my world through being aware, caring and taking action to make a positive difference.
    • CHANGES: This is where I show in what ways I’ve changed, as a learner, as an athlete, as a thinker, etc. . . . .