Linda O Reilly Education Consultant 2017

Linda O Reilly Education Consultant 2017


Linda O’Reilly  Education Consultant  2017

Creating a Culture of Reflective Thinking:Core Competencies in Action

When children walk into our classrooms they bring their competencies with them! Development of core competencies begins within families, before students enter school. The core competencies are about how students go about ‘doing’ the job of learning. For example, how students communicate, work with others, and deal with conflict. When it comes to helping students develop core competencies, the teacher’s role is more like a coach –stretching and strengthening the core competency growth of their students.

Reflection and self-assessment are thoughtful activities that encourage children to developcore their competency learning. When children are engaged in reflection, they are encouraged to go beyond justtelling what they havelearned. When children are engaged in self-assessment, they are encouraged to be more aware of what they have learned and what they can do to build on the learning experience.

What Is Reflective Thinking?

Reflective thinking is a part of the critical thinking process and refers specifically to the processes of analyzing and making judgments about what has happened (Dewey (1933). Learners are aware of and control their learning by actively participating in reflective thinking – assessing what they know, what they need to know, and how they bridge that gap – during learning situations.

Reflective thinking helps student develop higher-order thinking skills by prompting learners to (a) relate new knowledge to prior understanding, (b) think in both abstract and conceptual terms, (c) apply specific strategies in novel tasks, and d) understand their own thinking and learning strategies.

How Can Teachers Explicitly Incorporate Reflective Thinking Into the School Day?

  1. Write unit plans to explicitly include reflective thinking opportunities.
  2. Structure lesson plans to support reflective thinking.
  3. Provide lesson components that prompt inquiry and curiosity.
  4. Provide resources and hand-on activities to prompt exploration.
  5. Provide reflective thinking activities that prompt students to think about what they have done, what they learned, and what they still need to do.
  6. Provide reflection logs writing/drawing activities to prompt students to think about what they know, what they learned, and what they need to know as they progress through their learning day.

Building Classroom Culture

Create curiosity.When students learn new concepts or subject matter, they often experience a sense of uncertainty until they can make sense of the new information. Curiosity can motivate them to engage in the reflective process. What do you wonder about?

Make it continual.Build into the day structured opportunities for students to reflect and self-assess learning. In addition to these set times, reflection can and should happen whenever students are actively engaged in learning. The ultimate goal is to get students into the habit of reflecting on and constructing meaning from their learning experiences.

Internal Voice: The internal voice of reflection is self-knowledge, "what and how of my thinking".

External Voice: Students hear an external voice of reflection in others' comments, suggestions, assessments, evaluations, and feedback.

  • Organize small-group reflections in which students share their thoughts.
  • Begin with a question such as: "What competencies/skills did you depend on today?"

Encourageyour students to connect their learning to their reflections. The ability of students to self-assess their competency growth depends on their ability to:

  • ‘See’ competency abilities and dispositions in action.
  • Recognize competencies as they are ‘doing’ learning.

Level One: The student during learning

-Students provide their thoughts and ideas on "how" they're learning, which informs "how" we're teaching.

-What did you learn about yourself as you worked on this inquiry? Have you changed any ideas you used to have on this subject?

Level Two: The student after learning

-Guides the student to "analyze" what they learned and "why" it was important to learn.

-One thing I would like to improve upon is __.

The following questions can be used to guide students to broaden their thinking about their competency growth and self-assessment. These questions can also be used in AB Partner Interviews.

Learning: What do you know a lot about?

Skills: What do you know how to do well? How do you think this activity helped you grow your competencies?

Strengths: What have you noticed that you do well? Why did you choose these qualities or competencies?

Stretches: What have you noticed that you need to work on?

-I want to become better at __.

-These are my actions __.

-The way that I can do this is __.

Encourage your students to talk about their reflections the next day.Reflective‘talking and listening’ also builds the Habits of Mind related to empathy, flexibility, and persistence.

Model the reflective process.During class discussions, model the reflective process by asking the kinds of questions that relate to the kinds of questions that you will ask of your students. Explicitly point out how you support a claim with evidence.

Encourage your students to develop multiple perspectives.Being exposed to different perspectives through discussions with classmates, about matters of importance is critical to the reflective thinking process. Having students work on collaborative projects can facilitate this; they learn to listen to others and consider different approaches to solving problems.

Core Competencies and First People Principles of Learning (FPPL)

The First Peoples Principles are not based on one particular nation's beliefs, but are generalized Aboriginal worldviews. FPPL are a collection of nine principles that help teachersto incorporate First Peoples ways of learning into lessons and unit plans. The Core Competencies are interwoven into the First Principles of Learning.

Click HERE for a bibliography for connecting Aboriginal Titles to the Core Competencies.

Student Self-assessmentand the Core Competencies

Self-assessment allows students to develop the ability to describe themselves in relation to their competency learning. It engages students in reflection and enables students to understand the outcomes of their learning. In taking ownership of their learning, students should be able to describe how they are developing their core competencies, with the help of their teacher where necessary. Always keep in mind, students need to be living and doing the core competencies so when they are asked to assess their competencies, they can!

  • Make the core competencies ‘visible’ by introducing them to the competency posters and icons.
  • Create kid-friendly ‘doing’ definitions for each core competency. Post the competency definitions so you can refer to them and emphasize their importance with students.
  • Create a competency word wall to display competency language for students to reflect upon as they engage with the core competencies. Students need to talk about their competency learning. Language and core competencies grow together and nurture each other’s development.
  • Weave kid-friendly competency language as much as possible into all lessons, conversations, discussions and self-assessment activities.
  • Create opportunities for ongoing reflection and self-assessment of core competencies.

Steps to Student Self-assessment

  1. Address students’ perceptions of self-assessment including wishful thinking, over inflation, and under inflation.
  1. Teach critical thinking skills required for student self-assessment.
  1. Provide students with many opportunities to practise different aspects of the self-assessment process.
  1. Develop metacognitive skills. Metacognitive skills are important organizers of the tasks that students perform (e.g. planning, setting goals, adjusting what they are doing to improve the quality of their work).
  1. Encourage students to assess their own progress by asking themselves key questions about where they are in their learning

-Where am I now?

-Where am I trying to go?

-What do I need to do to get there?

-How will I know I have accomplished what I set out to do?

Click HERE to access formative assessment strategies.

Click HERE to access formative assessment strategies.

Reflective Thinking and Self-assessment in Action

What matters most in the teaching of the Core Competencies−Thinking, reflecting, self-assessment, talking and meaningful activities?“Creating a Culture of Reflective Thinking: Core Competencies in Action”suggests ways for teachers to use the competency ‘I Statements’ to help students internalize key aspects of competency learning. Italso offers strategies to make reflection and self-assessment ‘visible’ for their students.

Click HERE for a bibliography on the Core Competencies from SD 71~Comox Valley. Thank you Carol Walters and Joan Pierce.

Click HERE for a bibliography on the Core Competencies from SD 36~Surrey. Thank you Lynne Powell

Suggestions for Successful Implementation of Reflective Logs

Provide students with a reflective log notebook. They don’t need anything fancy-and let them decorate the cover. Reflective logs are notebooks that students use when drawing and writing about their own thoughts. This encourages the development of metacognitive skills by helping students sort what they know from what they don't know.

Explain to students what a reflective log is, what kinds of entries (pictures and words) they will develop, and the key role it will play for them to ‘think about their learning’.

Allot time for student to reflect on and self-assess their learning, if possible right after a task has been completed. It works well if students provide examples and evidence in their reflections.

Provide feedback based both on the students’ reflections and on his/her own observations of their performance in their reflective log.

A Suggested 3-Step Process for Student Self-assessment

Share / Connect / Reflect and Self-assess
  • Ask students to tell you about a piece of e.g. work, video, activity (competency illustration) they are proud of.
  • Have students to work with one of the ‘I statements’.
  • Ask students to share what they have learned to do.
  • Connect the learning to competency growth. What connections can you make? I noticed that you __. This is an important (communication, thinking, etc.,) skill.
  • Invite students to talk about their strengths by encouraging them to use ‘I can’ statements. What attributes/dispositions did you develop?
  • Engage students in self-assessment.
  • Growing My Competencies activity (Inspired by a Critical Thinking activity from SD 67 Judith King )
  • (Grade 2) Give students three cards with three self-assessment statements:
-This is where I am now__.
-This is where I am I trying to go__.
-This is what I need to do to get there__.
  • Engage students conversations based on the above assessment statements. Encourage students to use ‘I can statements’.

Set a Goal: I want to…. by… so I will…

Student Goal Setting

Students should write their goals down during the self-assessment process, and be reminded of them regularly. The establishment of goals and having students track their progress toward these goals makes the learning process more transparent. To accomplish this with your students begin by asking a few basic questions:

  • What new competency skill will you work on?
  • What attributes/dispositions would you like to develop?
  • Set a Goal: I want to__ by__ so I will__.

Be Creative with the Core Competencies and Self-assessment!

  • Post Cards: Have students write postcards to themselves to share their competency strengths and stretches. Postcards can be collected to show competency growth over time.
  • Beat the Clock: Have students list three ‘I can statements’ with evidence in three- five minutes.
  • Read It, List It: Read a page from a story or news clip. Have students create a list of the competencies for each character or person in the story or news clip.
  • Yes I Can Do That! Have students work in AB partners. Student (A) asks questions of their (B) partner about the ‘I can statement’ or competency illustration that they have chosen to share. Have students switch roles.
  • If I Can Learn It, I Can Create It: Have students build or create something to show what they have learned (e.g., diorama, concept map, college, ABC books).
  • Doodle It: Have students draw (doodle) what they ‘can do’, instead of writing it.
  • I Can Splash: Write or post ‘I can statements’ on the board. Students respond to an ‘I can statement’ at the same time. A bit noisy but a lot of fun!
  • Growing My Competences: Have student respond to self-assessment categories by indicating where they are in their learning on the competency indicator.
  • Twitter Board: Have students summarize the competencies they used in a lesson or activity within a short sentence.
  • Photos: Show two or three photos that represent a competency process. Have students write captions for each photo.
  • Explain Everything: Have students create short videos where they share their competency strengths and reasons why they think they are showing growth.Click HEREfor more information for MAC Devices. Click HEREfor more information for Windows Devices.

Bank of Reflective Prompts for Grades 3-7 Students

The reflective thinking activities collated in this document strives to address all of the core competency facets and their descriptors as they relate to the reflection process. They can be used across the curriculum range. The aim of this collection is to provide students and teachers with ways tocollect over time, evidence of core competency growth.


  • It was easy to ___.
  • I am good at ___ because ___.
  • What did you learn that was new to you?
  • What insights did this new knowledge give to you?
  • Did it help you see something in a new light?
  • Did it help you understand something that you didn’t understand before?
  • How do you think this might be?
  • What is something you are most proud of?
  • What is something you would do differently next time?
  • What two things show growth? (Show a beginning understanding to a deeper understanding.)
  • What is something that was tough at first, but then you got it? Show evidence of that progression.


  • What happened in school today that made you feel proud? Do you think everyone else felt that way?
  • How did you feel about what was done?
  • Did it affect you emotionally and if so how?
  • What did you find easy to do or understand and why?
  • What did you find difficult or challenging to do or understand and why?


  • Is there any action that you will take as a result of what was done?
  • Do you need to plug further gaps in your learning?
  • What do you want to investigate further?

Core Competency Reflective Log Entries

Novice and Developing I Can Statements in Kid-friendly Language
Communication is when students exchange information, experiences and ideas to help them learn. Students express their thoughts, feelings ideas and opinions. Students need to use digital media to communicate.
Connect & Engage With Others / Acquire, Interpret, & Present Information / Collaborate to Plan, Carry Out, & Review Constructions & Activities / Explain/Recount & Reflect On Experiences & Accomplishments
Evidence of Learning: Students engage in informal and structured conversations where they listen, contribute, develop understanding and relationships, learn to consider diverse perspectives, and build consensus. / Evidence of Learning: Students inquire into topics that interest them, and topics related to their school studies. They present for many purposes and audiences; their work often features media and technology. / Evidence of Learning: Students work together to accomplish goals, either face to face, or through digital media. / Evidence of Learning: Students tell about their experiences—especially their learning experiences—and reflect and share what they learned.
Communication Facets/Log Entries
/ Reflect on your competency growth. What competencies/skills did you depend on?
Connect and Engage with Others (to share and develop ideas)
  • I ask and respond to simple, direct questions
  • I am an active listener; I support and encourage the person speaking
  • I recognize that there are different points-of-view and I can disagree respectfully
Reflect on your competency learning today:
  • What was important about what you did?
  • What do you need to improve as you learn to become an active listener?
  • Show evidence that you work respectfully with others.
  • Show evidence that you recognize different perspectives.
Acquire, Interpret, and Present Information (includes inquiries)
  • I can understand and share information about a topic that is important to me
  • I present information clearly and in an organized way
  • I can present information and ideas to an audience I may not know
Reflect on your competency learning today:
  • You are about to apply for your dream job. The interviewer says, “I see you’ve studied ____. What were the most important things you learned in that study?” How would you respond?
Inquiry Process
  • What was interesting about your inquiry?
  • What was difficult about your inquiry?
  • How could you improve your inquiry skills?
  • What skills have you developed in this inquiry? What learning experiences contributed to that development
Collaborate to Plan, Carry Out, and Review Constructions and Activities
  • I can work with others to achieve a common goal; I do my share
  • I can take on roles and responsibilities in a group
  • I can summarize key ideas and identify the ways we agree (commonalities)
Reflect on your competency learning today: