Monday, July 1, 2013

End of Year Reflection - Top 5 Takeaways from Students

At the end of each year, I pause to reflect on my big take-aways as a teacher and learner as well as have my students reflect on their year.   Each year, I ask my students to write down their "Top Five Take-aways" from the year (click here to read my post from last year).  When I attend conferences and workshops, I tend to walk away thinking about my "Big Take-aways" so I have my students use a similar reflection strategy. Throughout the year, I continuously ask my students to reflect on their learning after each unit of study so they are not surprised when I ask them to participate in an end-of-year reflection.  Reflection is a critical and necessary component of the learning process and I firmly believe that without reflection, we would not have learning. 

Below are highlights from the students' "Top Five Take-Aways" from this year:

Google Drive -
"This helped me keep all of my work organized and it was SO much easier than a flash drive." 
"I learned how to work as a group on Google Drive and it was helpful to get feedback and comments from Ms. Swider and our partners." 

Writer's Backpack -
"This helped me so that I always had something to write about.  I used to always get stuck having nothing to write about, but having a writer's backpack helped me get out of that." 

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset -
"This helped me to be more open to new ideas and made me realize that I can improve and sometimes change is for the better."

Creating charts and writing in reader's notebook - 
"I liked color-coding because it helped me remember important parts and see my thoughts clearly."
"Using arrows helped me push my thinking more."
"I have grown a lot as a reader this year. I learned many new strategies that help me push my thinking. I recently went back and looked through my readers notebooks. There is a HUGE difference in my responses from the beginning of the year to now. Everything that I do in my readers notebook has gotten stronger and more organized."

Responsibility - 
"In fifth grade, we did more groups and clubs so we had to be responsible because we had to do work in a certain time frame." 

Teamwork - 
"We learned how to work as a team. Teamwork is very important because it's a life lesson that we all need to learn."
"We learned good teamwork skills when we had to work together with some people we don't normally work with or talk to. It taught us to get along with other people because you will have to in life."

New Book Titles and Recommendations -
"Reading was awesome this year. It was so great because all the books and almost every weekend Ms. Swider would get at least 3 new books. To be honest this was the year that got me started with reading."   
"In this classroom, I had the chance to read so many new books and had so many choices! Ms. Swider loves books and she taught us how to give book recommendations."  
"Ms. Swider purchased books that everyone enjoyed and always bought more and more books, and even read about 4-5 books every weekend!! We all enjoyed having her do this for us and it was a privilege."
Almost every student included "Google Drive" and "Books" as two of their take-aways from this year.  We used Google Drive for the first time in our classroom this year for almost all of our writing so that was definitely an exciting part for all of us this year! My passion for reading always comes through loud and clear through my classroom library, book recommendations, and new books added weekly, so each year that is always a take-away for students!  At the end of each year, I am excited to see which essential skills students internalized and what they will take away with them as lifelong learners from our year of learning together.  :)

I'd love to hear about other ways you had your students reflect on their year of learning in your classroom or how you reflect at the end of each year. 


  1. I love the process of reflection you went through putting this blog post together to share. I have read through my students' end of the year reflections but did not really take the time to synthesize the information like this. I will be doing a similar blog post soon. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Hi Andrea, So glad that you found this post to be inspirational. Look forward to reading your post! :)

  2. Hi Melanie,
    I am a second year fifth grade teacher and your blog was recommended to me by someone in my district. I love all that you do and have been writing down many ideas and book titles. Our district is implementing Writer's Workshop for the first time this year so I am learning a lot from your blog. I am also interested in which books you read aloud, and which you use for book clubs or guided reading and how you facilitate your small group reading instruction. Thank you.