What's a reflection paper?
A reflection paper reveals the writer's thinking about his/her own thinking. The precise term for this type of thinking is metacognition. Merriam-Webster defines metacognition as an "awareness or analysis of one's own learning or thinking processes".
How do you go about writing a reflection paper?
First, you begin with a literary work and all response activities (journals, double entries etc...) you completed. One of the purposes of a response activity is to get you to make connections. When you do this, you begin to become aware of your response to the work and thoughts/ideas/memories triggered by the literary work.
In a reflection paper, you share these thoughts and connections. In doing so, you share your thought process and your thinking about your thought process. OK, I realize that this is very confusing. What follows below is my imagined interview with Mr. Martinson. For his answers I have excerpted parts of a handout on metacognition created by LHS' own Mr. Martinson. (Special Thanks to Mr. Martinson!)
Mrs. Juster: How do you get your students to write in a metacognitive manner?
Mr. Martinson: (I tell them) you are simply writing about what thoughts are running around inside your head about the...(literary work/research)... that you are engaged in. (A reflection paper) is a free-flowing piece of writing that just explains what thoughts occurred to you as you were reading/viewing/researching. To be successful at writing a statement of metacognition, you really have to be paying attention not to just what you’re reading/viewing/researching, but also to how you are reacting to and thinking about ...this task. What are you thinking about when you think about what you’re thinking about?
Mrs. Juster: It's not an easy concept for students to grasp. What do you tell them if they still have questions?
Mr. Martinson: (I tell them) you should write about any or all of the following:
- Connections you may be making to other works of literature ("text to text" connection or even a "text to world" or "text to self" connection).
- What you may have been expecting to happen next (in the literary work).
- Your thinking about different characters in specific situations and what was motivating them.
- An “illuminating moment” when you suddenly “got” something that crystallized your thinking about the (literary work). What was it? How did it help?
- (Did conflicts which arose in the novel) ...get resolved in ways that leave you, the reader, with a sense of closure or are you left feeling as if closure is incomplete? What is the point of such a closure?
Mrs. Juster: "Closure" is similar to two terms we encounter in junior English - "resolution" and "consolation". What else do you tell them they should write about?
Mr. Martinson: Anything in class discussions about the reading helped shape any of (their) thinking about the literature (and/or) something in the reading that struck (them) as being particularly memorable (as well as questions that occurred to (them) as (they) were reading
How long is a reflection paper?
Usually one page in length (typed), this is the type of expository writing where using the "I" voice isn't just ok - it's necessary. The reason for this is simple. In a reflection paper, you communicate your own thoughts and opinions as you reveal the thought process which led you to these conclusions.
Is there anything else that should be included in a reflection paper?
Yes, you should include the title of the literary work and the author's name.