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Explore Reflective Writing_Reflective


What is a reflective summary and in what contexts do people write them?
Develop a clear enough understanding of the characteristics and uses of a reflective summary to be able to explain your understanding to others.

Time To Complete 

1-2 hours

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.10

I Can Statements 

  • I will know my exploration of reflective writing is of high quality when:
    • I can identify the elements that define reflective writing, such as main idea or thesis, details from the text, and writer’s response to the text

Suggestions for Assessing Student Readiness to Move Forward:

  • Confer with students to check their understanding of the elements of persuasive writing
  • Provide students an anchor text and ask them to code or otherwise identify the elements of persuasive writing
Possible Activities 
  1. Book pass: Gather a variety of authentic reflective summary documents (e.g., essays, high-quality book reviews, and book chapters).   Each student should have a page divided into two columns.  Give each student one document.  Time them for three minutes, during which they record their reactions to and observations of each document.  Then switch until each student has seen and commented on each document.  Lead them in a group discussion about their observations.  

  2. Group exploration: Provide several exemplars and ask students to select two or three to examine and create a list of similarities in structure, craft, and form. Or use a jigsaw format, where students work in groups, and each group examines examples of authentic reflective summaries and a different exemplar. Then reorganize the groups so that the new groups each have one representative from the former group, and each representative shares their learning with the others in this new group to create a collective understanding of the forms and varieties of reflective summaries

  3. Modeling: Model for the students how you could write a reflective summary. Read aloud from a text to which you have had a strong reaction, and then think aloud about what the text is directly about, and your reactions to the text: connections you make, predictions, themes you notice, and your evaluation of the text.  Then think aloud and model, reflecting metacognitively on the process of your own learning. 

  4. Analysis of exemplars: Students receive or create graphic organizers with the following sections:

    •  Details from the text
    •  The writer’s reaction to the text

    Then, individually or in groups, have the students examine several exemplars of reflective summaries, and complete the graphic organizers with their observations. 

  5. Read-aloud: Read aloud a selection from one of the “expert texts,” such as Rebecca Mead’s book-length reflection on her relationship with the novel Middlemarch.  Think aloud about what you notice about her writing, drawing attention to her summary of main ideas of the novel, and her focus on her emerging understanding of, and reaction to, this novel.  

  6. Provide students with exemplars of book reviews of varying levels of quality and focus: one that is a simple summary, one that includes a little reflection, and one that includes extensive and interesting reflection.  Lead students in a discussion about their observations.  This activity can be completed in groups or individually.


Downloadable Resources 
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