Acclaimed American philosopher and scholar John Dewey – often considered one of the founding fathers of what we now embrace as project-based learning – once said, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” And as this last school year ended across the country in recent weeks, many may ponder about what learners learned. Well, the 1st and 2nd Graders at iLEAD Agua Dulce shared just that at their recent end-of-the-year showcase.
Facilitators Rhonna Horney and Emily Rivera asked all of their learners to respond in writing to six reflection questions. These were:
Ultimately learners shared these reflections along with their portfolios to their families in a culminating final presentation.
Both Horney and Rivera believe reflection, also known as metacognition, is an important process for the learners to gain understanding throughout the entire school years, especially in project-based learning.
“This final showcase ceremony supported this big idea,” said Horney. “The learners are able to use the skill of reflection to reach their goals, be flexible, and support their social/emotional learning to gain the most growth.”
According to the learners, this final presentation and showcase of learning – focused on reflection – was very powerful to both end the school year while also demonstrating all learners have gained throughout the school year.
Learners had a lot to say about the experience, as well as their learning overall.
1st Grader Evangaline Gonzalez was excited about the celebration aspect, while 1st grade peer Andrea Jimenez liked the showcase aspect.
“I liked that I got to share everything I’ve done this year with my friends and family,” said Jimenez.
2nd Grader Fiorella Montalvan loved summarizing her school year for family.
“This was a time for me to talk about how my year went with my mom and I told her that I was proactive and able to put first things first all year,” she said. “I liked that we let our balloons fly for all our wishes to come true.”
2nd Grader Brianna Goodman felt like this experience symbolized the collective hard work of her and her peers. “I enjoyed the Showcase Ceremony because it brought back memories about how we worked hard together all year long.”
The learners were not the only ones who reflected on the year and all of the learning. Both Horney and Rivera were appreciative of what their learners accomplished this year and of their self reflections.
“We learned that although our learners are still working on foundational skills, the learners are extremely capable of being insightful and gained a great grasp on the idea of reflection over the course of the year,” said Horney. “We also learned that reflecting is not only great for the learners, but a great practice for us as well as growing and learning educators.”
Although this was the first year that these facilitators hosted this final reflective showcase of learning, they said it will not be the last. Both felt that this also represented their collaboration appropriately as well.
“I think that we were able to do this together because of the opportunity we had to work closely with each other this year,” said Lopez. “There is definitely room for changes to be made as this was a learning opportunity.”
Horney concurred. “We have been a support system for each other over the course of the year and reflection was a huge part of our interactions together,” she said.
For the learners, it was an emphasis on skills and goals related to speaking and listening, synergizing, writing and social-emotional learning.
“Overall, this was a beautiful and unique ceremony,” said Horney. “It was a great way to end the year for the learners, and set them up to do great things next year.”
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