Megan J. Bardolph’s essay, “Modifying Classroom Routines to Provide Reflective Space” gives me some much-appreciated pedagogical go-ahead. Thank you, Jackie, for giving it to us. Bardolph’s suggestion that we begin this reflective process early on fuses well with what I’ve already attempted in this short time, and as it’s my first week with this new pedagogy, and the feeling of being overwhelmed is very real, I want to take a moment and say why.
Learning Unit 1. Literacy. Metacognition. The students in at least one of my sections are already flying (boldly!) into uncharted brain space. As I am talking to them, I sense that my desire to NOT reign them in, and yet, my need to give our FY folks some real deliverables, will start to clash soon. So: what I told them (after giving them a quick overview of Wittgenstein and linguistic game theory) is: “Tell me, in ongoing notation, your:
Reflective Notations, Observations, and Adaptations. How did you feel about the assignment when you first got it — and how did you feel after you completed it? What did you observe about the way it made you write? What were some of the ways in which writing with the constraints I just gave you made you Adapt — Mentally, and Physically? And, also, could you look to the future, and say how you might Adapt what just happened in this assignment to other situations in which you find yourself writing in other classes?
So, before reading Bardolph, this was my way of doing what she suggests. I started the process early, rather than waiting, with one of my groups. Now that I’ve read her, I will try to refine my wording for other sections of my classes and see if I’m more effective. Just briefly, a few points from Bardolph that made the most sense to me:
“It may be more productive to have students make sense of what they are asked to do on their own, before it is communicated to them in their instructor’s voice.”
Yes to that. I do not think that my first UNIT 1 low stakes assignment benefits from being communicated in stone. I gave it verbally, intentionally leaving it open ended for student interpretation. Only when I ask them for reflection will I be formal. I want them to DO writing before they settle into their old habits in reading-prompt-oh-no-not-another! type writing.
Bardolph goes on: “I found… what Gwen Gorzelsky et al. have termed ‘constructive metacognition,’ … encourages student interaction with and use of rhetorical concepts….It also aligns with recent frameworks for conceptualizing learning transfer, such as the“detect-elect-connect” model described by transfer researchers David N. Perkinsand Gavriel Salomon, as it gives students a chance to detect initial links between the current task they face and other writing situations.”
Fine. Where I do NOT agree with Bardolph is the following: she suggests students do all this on paper before they’ve tackled the assignment. I think that is too much. They are stagnating after the break between semesters. They are out of touch with the writing process. I need to get them going, first, both on paper and in discussion groups before I wallup them with meta-cognitive writing.
One more great thing I would take from Bardolph is the suggestion that this kind of reflection take place in small groups. Students can have a hard time articulating, and small group work might well encourage them to find the right words.