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6 Easy Activities that Empower Daily Learner Reflection

Why is learner reflection important?

Already familiar with why learner reflection is so important? Scroll down to see the activities!

Learner reflection is magical. It supports students in becoming active co-creators in their learning. It gives students the opportunity to contemplate what they are learning and what they have learned in the past. This opens the door for students to generate new meaning from what they’ve learned. They can then build on these ideas, understand them in their own way, and gain a better understanding of what they know, or what they still need to learn.

Student reflection is ranked on John Hattie’s Visible Learning list as one of the top factors that increases student achievement.

Learner reflection is so important because it gets students to review their experience and look for inconsistencies, or elements that may be right or wrong. It also engages them in an active learning process where they make their own meaning from what they are taught. Integrating student reflection helps as it:

  1. supports active and independent learning, as well as critical thinking,
  2. bolsters deep engagement and ownership of learning,
  3. promotes differentiated thinking, and
  4. builds confidence in ideas.

Now that we’re all on board with reflection let’s dive into the activities and tips that we’ve found to be the best for learner reflection.

6 activities that get students reflecting every day.

Pre-lesson reflection

A great way to engage students is to ask them what they already know. This will give you insight into what they already know or don’t know and help you understand what they took away from your lesson. This will also help your students get into the habit of recalling knowledge and can boost their self-confidence — showing students that they already know quite a lot.

Activity #1 – Initial reactions

Show students a picture or a short video that relates to the topic/subject that you will be teaching. Ask them an open-ended question about what they already know about the subject. Give students some time to write down their initial reactions and thoughts. Then open the floor to your students — compile a list of all the things that they came up with.

This is an easy way to open the floor to a new topic and is a great reflection practice. Now both you and your students will have a really good idea of what they already know about it and how to proceed from there.

Try this in Parlay!

Before starting a Live RoundTable discussion give students a few minutes to write their initial ideas down in the notes section before beginning the discussion.

Tip: Stop and listen. This is a tried and true method for gaining a better understanding of what your students are thinking. Keep note of things students are saying or questions they’re asking (if you’re using Parlay you can use your notepad to write down these observations). These are hints that can give you a lot of perspective into what students still need to learn or how they’re thinking about the topic.

Mid-lesson reflection

During a lesson or discussion, it’s good to review what has already been said or what is already known. This gives students an opportunity to make connections between different ideas.

Activity #2 – Poll the class

During your lesson or discussion make time to poll the class to find out where everyone is in the process of their learning. Polls can consist of straight forward questions like:

Does this make sense to you? [Yes, no, I need more explanation]

Do you still have any questions about ________ idea?

Polls are also an easy way to ground the discussion and connect their learning to different themes and ideas that have already been discussed or taught in class. For instance ask:

Has your perspective changed about ________ now that you know ________?

These kinds of questions support learner reflection and allow students to understand the ebb and flow of ideas and their own learning.

Try this in Parlay!

Parlay has a polling feature in the Live RoundTable discussion that allows you to poll the class. Prepare these polls before the discussion begins for a quick and seamless experience. You can also view which option students voted for.

Activity #3 – Pause and Reflect

Midway through the lesson or discussion, pause the class and allow students 1-2 minutes to independently reflect on how they are thinking about what they’ve learned. If it’s a discussion or collaborative activity, have them reflect on their participation.

Am I distracted or focused?

How can I contribute to this conversation or topic?

Do I have any clarifying questions?

Try this in Parlay!

In the Live RoundTable, you can click stop to pause the discussion, and encourage students to look at their student summary or the class summary. After a few minutes, start the discussion again to continue!

Post-lesson reflection

Activity #4 – Note for next time

Activities where there is lots of learning and discussion going on require time set aside to reflect on what was learned and said. Give students time to make notes on their thinking so they can process everything and think about their growth as an active learner.

Get students to create a Google Slide or use a journal and after each time they have a discussion or a lesson give them 5 minutes of time to reflect. Use prompts like:

What is one new thing that you learned?

Is there anything that you are unsure about?

Or if it’s a journal to reflect on their discussion skills ask them:

What is one thing you did well today?

What is one area where you think you could improve?

Try this in Parlay!

Give students time to make notes on their participation at the end of a Live RoundTable Discussion. Before your next discussion get students to look at their notes from last time to remember what they need to work on.

BONUS: Every Online RoundTable in Parlay gives you space to ask self-reflection questions. These can be found in two places. After your students have participated and added their initial thoughts to the discussion they must then reply to other students to keep the conversation going. These self-reflection questions directly ask the student to question and consider how they felt about the contributions of others to the discussion.

Activity #5 – Exit tickets

Exit tickets are a great way to kick-start reflective thinking. Get students to jot down a few sentences to summarize their thoughts on a topic, on the day/week, or whatever it is you want them to reflect on. This short activity will have students thinking and reflecting in no time!

Try this in Parlay!

Check out our Exit Ticket Reflection discussion in the Parlay Universe. This discussion will help to facilitate reflection in an Online RoundTable after learning about a topic.

Activity #6 – Word cloud

Use a word cloud to prompt reflection. Challenge your students to reflect on their learning and participation by looking at what they have done in the past or what their classmates have done.

Find a word cloud application, have students send you a written reflection. Once everyone has completed this, have your students review the top words and consider how their post may or may not be different after seeing what their classmates wrote. Have students write a short paragraph on 3 things they would like to add or take away from their submission and why they would make these changes.

Try this in Parlay!

A word cloud is generated at the end of every Online RoundTable in Parlay. Have your discussion and reflection all in one place, get the class to reflect on the key vocabulary and themes that came up in the discussion.

BONUS: Use Parlay’s summary data to reflect on their participation in the discussion. Have students mark down 1 great thing and 1 thing they could work on that will help them to be a better participant in future discussions. After each discussion, have them track their progress as they work on the skill they have chosen to improve.

Discussion topics for student reflection.

The Parlay Universe has lots of ready-made discussion topics that help students to reflect in different ways. Here are a few to get started:

Teacher Tips!

Some Teachers who are frequent users of Parlay shared with us how they use Parlay’s Summary Data for learner reflection. See what they had to say!


That was 6 activities you can use to incorporate more learner reflection into class time. Your students are now on their way to having a better understanding of the learned concepts and their own thinking.

If you try any of these activities let us know how it goes!

If you have any questions make sure to reach out to us on our website, click the smiley face in the bottom right-hand corner. We look forward to hearing from you! Or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for more discussion-based tips.