Using Learning Logs for Reflection and Formative Assessment during Units of Inquiry


Are you looking for a no-fuss way to assess students along the way during a unit of study or inquiry? Learning Logs are a fantastic way to do this!
Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

What are learning logs?

Learning logs are a journal of a student's learning experiences. They give children an opportunity to stop and think about what and how they are learning and feeling during a unit. It helps students become more aware of the process of learning as well as the deepen understandings of and personal connections to the topic of study.

Learning logs can be very open [blank pages] or guided [specifically designed] pages; it's really up to you and what your goals are. For our current unit of inquiry, I made very simple learning logs (with plain construction paper ) so that they were completely open-ended. I wanted to see what thoughts my students would come up with on their own. After participating in lessons, students reflect on their experiences noting their thinking and feelings. We don't do this after every activity, but most (I think you need to be careful of over-using the learning log, just like anything else). I want student to enjoy writing their ideas in them, and not feel like it's "for the teacher".
Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
The PYP theme of our unit is Where We Are in Place and Time, and our focus is on homes around the world. The central idea that I want students to understand is that "Homes are designed to fulfill many purposes." We are focusing on the PYP concepts of Form- what's it's like? (What's the shape of the home? How is it built?) and Function- how does it work? (How do parts of the home help the people that live there?)

As part of the beginning of the unit, students inquired into maps. I felt that they needed some knowledge in this area so that they could make connections between local and global places. In other words, how does my home in my neighbor compare to those around the world in different countries?

So, I invited students to collect various maps over their winter holiday. My international students travel all over the place, so we had maps from Bangkok, Singapore, Malaysia, and even Colorado! Using "real" maps is powerful because 1) they are real! not a worksheet of a fictitious place and 2) students are personally connected because they have travelled to these places and can speak about them, at least a little bit, from experience.
Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
In order to "find out" about maps, I simply divided all the maps around places within the classroom, and then students simply rotated through the stations where they could all take a good hands-on look at all the different maps. I facilitated by casually visiting each group and asking them to think about how the maps were alike and different, but mostly I let them discuss with one another.
Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
We regathered to share our observations and generated a list of features for maps.
Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
Students got out their learning logs and reflected on the lesson. I asked the to draw and write about what they thought was most important to know about maps. Here is a photo of one of my ELL student's log:
Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
As you can see, he has arrived at an essential understanding about maps! Here is another student's entry- she shares her wonderings, "It is cool how they make it- where do they make it (maps)?"
Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
What I really like about using learning logs is that I can assess what my students are understanding no matter what "level" they are. Students can express exactly what they are thinking making it easy for me to assess their level of comprehension, and if there are any misconceptions or burning questions. By the end of our unit, they will have a collection of their thoughts, feelings and wonderings. I can use this information as part of my assessments and reporting.

How do you encourage your students to be more thoughtful about their learning? Have you ever tried learning logs?

Thanks for stopping  by!

1 comment

  1. Impressive way to let learners express their understanding and helping teacher in assessing it.

    ReplyDelete

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Thanks for being thoughtful!

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