Most psychologists agree on three distinct stages of memory: sensory, short term and long term. New knowledge must create specific pathways between short and long term in order to easily retrieve it.

Asking students to reflect on their learning is a great way to create a well worn pathway between the memory storage stations. It can and should be done often: at the end of a lesson, at the end of a week, in the middle of a unit, in the middle of the year, etc.


Here are some prompts to help students reflect on their learning:

I used to think… Now I think…

K-W-L charts (I know… I want to know… I learned)

Shaping up a summary: Draw a triangle and a circle. Next to the triangle write “3 points I want to remember about this topic” and next to the circle write “Something that is still swirling around in my mind” to prompt the students for thoughtful reflection on their learning.

Summarizers: Have students synthesize a topic with a specific mini-project. These often work best with time limits or word number limits. Examples of summarizers: News Item for the TV News, Advertisement, Bumper Sticker, Telegram, Design a T-shirt/Logo/Magazine Cover, Time Capsule, Top Ten List, Write a Song, Write a Pledge, Graffiti Board

Possible Sentences: First, the teacher prepares a list of words related to the topic or concept to be studied. Familiar and unfamiliar words may be included. The teacher presents the list of words, and explains that they all relate to the concept. Next, the teacher asks students to make sentences with the words that they think might make sense about the topic. Each “possible sentence” may include one, two, or more of the words on the list. Students may work individually or in small groups to compose sentences. When everyone is finished, the teacher records some or all of the sentences on the board exactly as dictated by the students–whether or not the sentences contain accurate information. After students study and discuss the topic more thoroughly, they evaluate the accuracy of their initial sentences and revise as needed.

Share your favorite reflection prompts below!

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