Monday, December 28, 2015

One Word 2016: Reflection

One of my favourite parts of winter break is the time I can (at last) take to just sit and plan. With one month to go in the semester, I can focus on how I'll tackle the last month of my courses, as well as start piecing together some of the ideas I have for new courses starting in February.

With all the talk of new year's resolutions, it's also a good time to reflect on everything that happened in 2015 (my most-viewed blog posts from the year are here), particularly my chosen #OneWord theme for the year: JUMP.

This past year I wanted to:
  • JUMP at the chance to go out on a limb and try things I've never tried before (and not balk at trying just because it was new to me);
  • JUMP and reach higher, raising the bar on my work in the classroom;
  • JUMP into the unknown and take risks with my students, like connecting with other classes and people around the world;
  • JUMP into new opportunities, like sharing my learning at conferences or in workshops.

2015 was a phenomenal year. I was able to make good on my promise to JUMP more, and I'm not sure I'll be able to top it in 2016. 

But as I keep trying new things, I find I want to change my focus slightly. I want to continue taking risks, but I'd like my students and I to get more out of what we try. In that vein, my #OneWord for 2016 will be: REFLECTION.

  • Reflection on what's working well in my flipped classes. I've changed a lot of things in how I teach. Many ideas are working well. Some, I know, are not. There's always tweaking to be done, whether it's in delivery of content, choice of activities, or methods of engaging the students. How can I make my classroom an even better place to learn?

  • Reflection on my practices and abilities. I'd like to get back into blogging on a regular basis, both on my successes and failures. I learn so much from others, and I want to give back and help others where I can.

  • Reflection on what my students need - both what they say they need and my best guess as to what I think they'll need to succeed later in life. What is the right balance between digital and analog learning? How can I use both to help my students become better problem solvers, collaborators and communicators?

  • Reflection for my students. I keep meaning to have my students self-reflect on their (best) practices in class and on the work they do outside of class time. This year part of my focus will be to engage them more in this reflection process, and help them make connections between what they do to learn and how well they learn.

  • Reflection in the form of personal, quiet contemplation. I am hoping this will lead to a better balance between work and life. I started out the school year with a focus on mindfulness, and would like to return to that practice.

What is your #OneWord focus for the new year?


  1. I love the word reflection! How do you plan on getting better at this? What different ways do you think you might reflect? I'd love to hear more!


    1. Hi Aviva! I think the best way for me to get better at reflecting, is to devote the time to it. I'd like to make sure I blog on a more regular basis, but also take time at the end of a unit to review and reflect on what worked well (and what needs to be changed). This happens informally quite a bit, and finding time isn't always easy, but I do think it's an important part of the learning process.

      I think I'm most excited about taking the time to implement reflection in the classroom, though, to help students discover their strengths, and their paths to success. Student feedback is so informative, too... I'm hoping that through their reflections and my own, we can really drive the learning in class. Not sure how it will all work out, but at least I'll be blogging about it! :D Happy new year!

  2. I look forward to reading your reflections in 2016! I loved that you see this as "giving back" to others. Imagine if we all made the "jump" to give back!

    I have been "reflecting" on 2015 as well, trying to choose my #oneword for 2016. I think it has been a good catalyst for change.

    I found this article earlier this morning. Perhaps it will help with your strategies for "reflection":

    I look forward to continuing to learn with you.

    All the best in 2016!

    1. What a great article - thanks for sharing, Donna! I'll definitely make use of it in class (I particularly like the prompts). I really do believe that we (educators) all have something to share... even if it is something "old," there are always new perspectives or ways of implementing. Through sharing, we'll all get better.

      What did you decide upon for your #OneWord? :) All the best for a wonderful 2016!!

  3. In your classroom, where students have so much choice, it will be interesting to hear why they make the choices for their learning that they do. Have you checked out The Adolescent Literacy Guide? It is an excellent resource to support metacognitive practices, and the folks at @LiteracyON are having a Twitter chat on Jan. 25 at 7:00 on metacognition! Don't you love it when the planets align?!

    Your point about reflecting on what students need is so crucial, I think. When we are immersed in the vast edu Twitterverse (as we are), we need to be able to filter well!

    1. Hi Julie! Happy New Year!
      Thanks so much for mentioning all these resources - they sound fantastic (and you're right... what perfect timing!). I'll be sure to check out what I can. With some of the work I did on rich task assessment last year, the question often came up: "how do my students KNOW - while they're learning or once they've completed a task - that they've met the success criteria?" I'm hoping that through reflection, my students can better answer that question. All the best for a wonderful 2016!


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