You can use the 40-Card Deck for Reflective Thinking Routines in different ways depending on the lesson, the age of the children and the goals for learning. Sometimes, you may introduce specific reflection cards during a meeting or small group circle as a focus for that lesson. Other times, you may ask the children to select a card for the group to focus on during the lesson. Alternatively, you may select a reflection card as a focus at the end of class. You could also plan for brief pauses, during which the children reflect on how well they are using their brain muscles. For example, during a lesson that stretches their perseverance muscles, you could “press the pause button” and ask the children to reflect for a minute or so using these two cards: (1) What can we notice about our perseverance? (2) Who is showing really great perseverance? What are they doing? What can we learn from them?
These reflection cards could play an important role in children’s learning experience throughout their school years. Print out enough sets and make sure they are always available for the children to look at in the toolboxes at each table. You can also have large versions of the reflection cards hanging in the classroom to serve as a reference and reminder of the expectations and goals for learning. The sentence prompts can be displayed on the whiteboard or as a poster for the children to refer to when reflecting on examples of their own or their classmates’ work. If you encourage the children to regularly practice critiquing their work as a group, all the children will build their understanding of what quality looks like together. Using these kinds of prompts, sentence structures or thinking routines can purposefully develop both the quality of children’s work and their ability to reflect productively so that they take increasingly confident ownership of the reflection and improvement process over time.