“Why did my project turn out less than perfect?” is one of the prompts that students can use when they are reflecting at the end of the quarter. Those students did the planning, selecting, preparing, creating, assembling, adjusting, testing, and redesigning. Critical thinking is inevitable and natural with work of this type. I am often surprised by my students’ responses to the prompt. They can show self awareness and are able to write at length about their thought processes. They are happy to explain themselves when the topic is their own creation.
As a science teacher I would often ask students to reflect in writing. This would happen at the completion of their self-designed experiments. It did not usually flow out of them. I could provide a long list of sentence starters as support to get them started. The writing rarely impressed me. Becoming a maker teacher has taught me one important truth about writing. Kids are better thinkers/writers when they have their own choices and experiences to explain.
It seems so simple: kids write better when they have something they want to say. The old English teacher saying is that that ‘writing is thinking’. I couldn’t agree more.
For my part, every time I have spent time writing out an idea, it results in new ideas and realizations. There is just no substitute for writing when it comes to thinking.