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Reflection: The Neglected R of the Writer’s Workshop

By Brian Kissel


I have taught Writer’s Workshop for over 20 years now and I’ve always had a nagging feeling that something was missing from my daily routine.  I had a set routine: a short lesson, gave big chunks of time to write, weekly conferences with writers, and time for writers to get feedback from peers in the Author’s Chair.  But I knew there was a gap in my instructional routine.  So, I began to wonder: How often do I have writers think about their learning?  Am I asking writers to articulate what they’ve learned beyond showing it through a written product?  How often do I ask students to self-reflect?

These questions haunted me because I already knew the answers: Reflection was the neglected R in my Writer’s Workshop.

Reflection is an essential act for our students if they are to grow as learners.  Carol Dweck (2007) found that students’ perceptions of themselves as learners play a big role in their success at school.  Students who use self-reflection to recognize their continued growth as learners see knowledge as something that can be obtained.  Rather than viewing intelligence as a fixed quality, students perceive intelligence as something they can gain through learning (Yeager and Dweck, 2012).

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