Category #2: Create & Connect
What's a reflection paper?
A reflection paper reveals the writer's thinking about his/her own thinking. The precise term for this type of thinking is metacognition. Merriam-Webster defines metacognition as an "awareness or analysis of one's own learning or thinking processes".
Click here to look at a sample reflection paper and excerpts from more reflection papers. (Available only to Londonderry School District members. You must be logged in to your Londonderry Google account.)
How do you go about writing a reflection paper?
First, you begin with a literary work and all response activities (journals, double entries etc...) you completed. One of the purposes of a response activity is to get you to make connections. When you do this, you begin to become aware of your response to the work and thoughts/ideas/memories triggered by the literary work.
In a reflection paper, you share these thoughts and connections. In doing so, you share your thought process and your thinking about your thought process. OK, I realize that this is very confusing. What follows below is my imagined interview with Mr. Martinson. For his answers I have excerpted parts of a handout on metacognition created by LHS' own Mr. Martinson. (Special Thanks to Mr. Martinson!)
Mrs. Juster: How do you get your students to write in a metacognitive manner?
Mr. Martinson: (I tell them) you are simply writing about what thoughts are running around inside your head about the...(literary work/research)... that you are engaged in. (A reflection paper) is a free-flowing piece of writing that just explains what thoughts occurred to you as you were reading/viewing/researching. To be successful at writing a statement of metacognition, you really have to be paying attention not to just what you’re reading/viewing/researching, but also to how you are reacting to and thinking about ...this task. What are you thinking about when you think about what you’re thinking about?
Mrs. Juster: It's not an easy concept for students to grasp. What do you tell them if they still have questions?
Mr. Martinson: (I tell them) you should write about any or all of the following:
- Connections you may be making to other works of literature ("text to text" connection or even a "text to world" or "text to self" connection).
- What you may have been expecting to happen next (in the literary work).
- Your thinking about different characters in specific situations and what was motivating them.
- An “illuminating moment” when you suddenly “got” something that crystallized your thinking about the (literary work). What was it? How did it help?
- (Did conflicts which arose in the novel) ...get resolved in ways that leave you, the reader, with a sense of closure or are you left feeling as if closure is incomplete? What is the point of such a closure?
Mrs. Juster: Interesting! What else do you tell them they should write about?
Mr. Martinson: Anything in class discussions about the reading helped shape any of (their) thinking about the literature (and/or) something in the reading that struck (them) as being particularly memorable (as well as questions that occurred to (them) as (they) were reading
How long is a reflection paper?
Usually one page in length (typed), this is the type of expository writing where using the "I" voice isn't just ok - it's necessary. The reason for this is simple. In a reflection paper, you communicate your own thoughts and opinions as you reveal the thought process which led you to these conclusions.
Is there anything else that should be included in a reflection paper?
Yes, you should include the title of the literary work and the author's name.