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Notes & Reflections

This page will include some general resources, notes and reflections on reflection... a type of blog for the development of this website.

Updated on May 19, 2009 by Helen Barrett (Version 3)

Karen Barnstable's Blog
posted by Helen Barrett on Jan 9, 2010

VoiceThread and Portfolio Prompts
posted by Helen Barrett on May 26, 2009
I heard from the elementary teacher who blogged about her students' use of VoiceThread as an ePortfolio, and she shared the open-ended statements she uses with her students. I uploaded the document into GoogleDocs and linked it to the Elementary Schools page. We both agreed that it would be great to add other teachers to the document, so I am encouraging her to add other collaborators.

Turning the mirror upon itself
posted by Jonathon Richter on May 11, 2009
Helen and I have had another fun day of talking about portfolio thinking and learning. During our conversations at The Center for Advanced Technology in Education this morning, we eventually settled into a conversation about one of the most critical pieces of portfolios that seems to have received the least amount of attention: reflection. I showed her the "Recipes for Reflection" that Randy Bachmeier and I developed for using with the Teacher Education students at MSU-Northern when prompting them to think about their portfolios. I have started adding these on a section of this site. These "recipes" are ways for teachers to jump start student thinking or their own work in a structured way that often helps them get their heads wrapped around what is being asked of them. I've often thought about these kinds of scaffolds like such: if I give someone a blank piece of paper and tell them to "draw me a masterpiece", many people might feel overwhelmed and rather daunted staring at the paper with no directions. They may baulk. But if I give them some guided preparation to point their brains toward a creative source from which they may draw upon their powerful pattern-making brains (yes, I believe that EVERYONE is pretty creative), they will TAKE OFF. I believe that's a paradox of creativity: unscaffolded and inexperienced, we often get tripped up before we can even begin... but give us some bumpers on either side of the road and we'll take off on down the road. I think that a lot of teachers who teach students to be reflective and those who want their students to create reflective portfolios have developed reflective prompts, or "recipes" for their students - though they may not call them that.

The best way to see yourself learn is to see yourself WHILE you learn. Good reflection probably also happens at the right time in the right place. If we teach students how to do a heart transplant, we may not want to wait until three days later to ask them to reflect on the experience. We actually might not want to wait until the heart transplant is complete for the reflection either, but rather to get AT what a student is thinking while they do the learning, it might be a good idea to do it in stages... but the timing is important. It may not be a good idea for me to disrupt my heart transplanter student with prompts to "reflect on their process" during the middle of a delicate operation - but it might be a good idea to get AT their thinking in stages - say, when they've completed sewing up the left front ventricle. The idea of "chunking" up reflections to be proximal (close in space) and contingent (close in time) to the learning experience might be relevant to the quality of the reflection, itself. I don't actually know if this is true, but it's a hypothesis.

Reflecting upon Reflection... like turning the mirror upon itself and looking within. It's a way to see the infinite.

Updating Literature Review and Tools
posted by Helen Barrett on May 9, 2009
Today, I copied and updated excerpts from my White Paper: Researching Electronic Portfolios and Learner Engagement (PDF), created initially for The REFLECT Initiative and adapted for a paper published in IRA's Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, March 2007. Part of the excerpts went into the page on Why Reflect? (the literature review on reflection for learning). Another part of the paper had a discussion of blogging and digital storytelling, primarily within the context of engagement for learning, which I inserted into the Tools page. There is a lot more that can be added in both of those sections, but I think I have the major authors cited for the literature review.

I also added a link to a great teacher blog entry on using VoiceThread for ePortfolio, under the Elementary Schools page. There is a lot more here to explore, since I think digital storytelling/podcasts/multimedia are great mediums for reflection. The two examples linked into that teacher's blog page are authentic examples of 5th graders reflecting on their work for student-led conferences. The second example has audio feedback from her parent on several of the pages. This is a good example of both reflection and feedback, using a Web 2.0 tool.

Welcome Jonathon
posted by Helen Barrett on May 6, 2009
Today, I met with a team at the University of Oregon and have invited Jonathon Richter, Research Associate with the Center for Advanced Technology in Education, to collaborate with me on the development of this site. I am excited to share this process with another like-minded educator. Anyone else like to join us?

Beginning this Site
posted by Helen Barrett on Apr 30, 2009
I decided to begin this site as a Web 2.0-based resource on Reflection to support learning across the educational lifespan, from elementary schools through higher education. I have a small web page that I created in preparation for a workshop I conducted a year ago in New Hampshire. I re-published the MOSEP Module 2 on Reflection. I started keeping my favorite Reflection web pages on Since I believe reflection is the heart of an e-portfolio, not the digital artifacts, I want to create a resource that will support the process.

This blog will allow me to document my process of building this site. I will also model the process of reflection in the background while building this set of resources. To begin the process, I will answer a series of questions in separate posts:
  • What? (Description)
  • Why? (Analysis, Interpretation)
  • So What? (Overall Meaning and Application)
  • Now What? (Implications for Action)