Students Reflecting

This week was jam-packed with learning for me. Thanks Kath Murdoch for some inspirational words and prompting me to assess in a new way. And thanks to the “Making Thinking Visible” course I’m taking that has helped me bring my students to some really deep thinking.

We ended a unit this week on beliefs. It’s been a great unit, and I’ve already posted about some of it. We visited an older people’s home and talked with them about their beliefs. We’ve surveyed the world through Twitter about beliefs and talked with students from 2nd through 11th grade. For several weeks, students have been thinking deeply about what’s important to them and have come up with their own essay for “This I Believe,” a program on NPR in the U.S. We’ve walked around Yokohama and visited a temple. Weeks of inquiry and wonder.

Bringing the unit to a close, I wanted to find out what the students really thought and how much they had grown. They always seem respectful of others’ beliefs, but what did they really learn?

So, I asked them. It seems so simple, but Kath and Making Thinking Visible reminded me that I needed to do it.

I used a thinking routine: I used to think…Now I think. Since it was the students first time using it, we went through it together, and then they documented their thinking on paper with 2 columns (used to think and now I think). I asked them questions. What did you used to think about beliefs? What do you now think about beliefs? Their responses amazed me. They almost made me cry, they were so profound. Here are just a few of their responses:

  • I used to think that beliefs were religious. Now I think that beliefs are people’s passions and the things they enjoy the most in life.
  • I didn’t really know what beliefs were before. Now I think that beliefs are something that is valuable to you.
  • I used to think most people had the same beliefs. Now I think that beliefs are really important in life and that everybody has their own and interesting beliefs.
  • I used to think that beliefs were imagination. Now I think that beliefs are things that I will always have in my heart.

And I asked them how they used to respond when someone told them about their beliefs and how they now respond.

  • I used to think that if you had different beliefs, you weren’t from the same country. Now I think that people all have different beliefs (even from the same country) and we should respect them, but still follow our own.
  • I used to say that people’s beliefs were wrong. Now I say “ok” and think about how interesting their belief is.
  • I used to say something positive to everyone when they mentioned their belief. Now I am curious and I ask the person “why” do you have that belief.
  • I used to disagree if people had a different belief than me. Now I don’t disagree because I realize that having different beliefs is good.

It makes sense to ask students what they think. I would have assumed that they just got it, but now I know the depth of their understanding, and because we shared it in class, everyone knows it. It was 45 minutes well spent.

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One thought on “Students Reflecting

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