As you prepare for the exhibition, it’s important that your students have properly reflected on their work so they can convey what they’ve learned to an audience.

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Topic: Reflection

Email 5 (of 10)

As you prepare for the exhibition, it’s important that your students have properly reflected on their work so they can convey what they’ve learned to an audience.

We’ve all been there, either as a family member or a teen. A family member asks, “What did you do in school today?” and the response is an unenthusiastic “Nothin’.”  your exhibition, you want to avoid answers like this! Create designated class time before the exhibition to have students think about what they've learned and how they can describe their work.

Giving students an opportunity to reflect on work is necessary for them to articulate the importance of their work and their learning journey. Reflection allows them to formulate a script to explain what they have learned and how their work illustrates their learning. Generally, students struggle with reflecting on their decisions because much of what they do is impulsive or instinctual, and reflection is not a frequent part of most of their school time.

Providing opportunities for reflection helps students consider the process of their learning and why class content is important to share with others. An exhibition won’t end up being very exciting for your students or their audience if students can’t articulate what’s important about what they’ve been learning.

Activity 1: Write out a formal description of your students’ project. Separately, record yourself describing the project conversationally.

Activity Notes: 

Compare the formal description with the conversational description. What is the difference between the two? How might your students do the same? Does your background (age, gender, background) affect how you described the work? What did you not say in one that was in the other? What did you leave out entirely? Why?

Activity 2: Create a list of reflective questions for your students to go over to better understand the reasons for their work.

Activity Notes: 

Have your students answer the questions then go over their answers with their peers. Also answer these questions yourself and keep them for later reflection.

This list of questions can help your students understand how to compose a brief synopsis of what they're doing and why it's important. Give them time to share their answers with a peer. Ask the students to share out from their peer conversations and record the different kinds of answers on a publicly available space that the class uses for reflection. Be sure to discuss these answers your students gave with them. If you have enough time, give them another chance to rewrite their answers and discuss them in larger groups. Giving them a chance to formulate their own words is important, as any script a teacher writes for a student will most likely sound inauthentic coming from the student. The descriptions of work should sound as if they’re speaking to their parents, guardians, or friends, because they will be.

Things To Consider:

  • Be sure to listen to your students and how they're responding.
  • Listening to their responses will help you assess who needs additional support before exhibition
  • This will be a great time for you to assess whether or not the students are engaged with your project and which students are especially skilled with public speaking
  • You may select a few students to participate as “emcees” for the event and do more formal presentations for the exhibition

Case Study

Malcolm and Sophia are a Math teacher and History teacher who decided to work as a team on a year-end exhibition of student work for  their school. In preparation for the exhibition, they worked with students to document the process they went through and create learning artifacts. Throughout the semester, Malcolm and Sophia created opportunities for students to capture aspects of the process and put them in a journal  with descriptions explaining what the artifact represented and what sorts of decisions they made to create their work.
Before the event, students had opportunities to look back over their work and write short presentations that explored their learning journey, highlighting aspects of the process where they were challenged and remembering what steps they took to overcome hurdles. The teachers found that this required careful scaffolding, as students are not always used to thinking about the process of creation, but with consistent prompts and time to prepare, the students were able to use reflection to develop a deeper understanding both of themselves and the curriculum. The teachers provided some of these prompts for the audience who viewed the exhibition, and the preparation made the students feel more confident to present their process and final work. 


Below is a preview of some of the additional readings, videos, comics, and other resources to enhance your learning regarding this email’s topic. You can review these materials in full by going to the course landing page.


Sample Pre-Reflection Worksheet
A model of questions and critique that students can ask themselves to reflect on their project. Use this to understand what kind of questions a student may be asked to reflect on their work while exhibiting.
  Sample Student Presentation
This video shows a student reflecting on their work and presenting during an exhibition. You can use this to view how students reflected on the project in real time.

You can help us!

If you have any resources that you think people would benefit course participants, email us at Simply put “Exhibiting Student Work Resource Submission” in the email subject. Send us the file and remember to tell us which email lesson you think it should be a part of in the body of the email. We’ll review it and get back to you if we decide to use it!

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