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RE: reflective writing

Ann-- and Jay-- and

I cannot integrate Jay's comments here, perhaps
because they seem to have preceeded what I wrote last
time. And I am concerned about not making the notes
too long. So I am going to pick out one fragment of
what you responded and respond to that because I
think its important and I might have something useful
to say:

I want to dig deeper into what we mean when we say,
as you did, "We encourage students to reflect both on
the connection between their academic reading . . . .
and their experiences at the site. . ." Here's my
Doesn't the very nature of embedded participation
belie the ability to reflect on it in any veridical
sense? Isn't the reflection always a construction?
And if so, what difference does it make for how we
students to reflect?

We work so hard to design educational contexts in
which students can learn in a rich context of lived
participation and come to understand that what
may have been characterized narrowly as individual
development is now seen as part of a complex scene.

What caught my attention first, was the notion of
"reflect in a veridical sense." I am not sure I would
know what that means but have been thinking about it.
Here is what I observe (I can dig an example out and
send it to your or post it on xmca if there is

Students have been writing notes since their first
experience at the site. They are asked at the end of
the quarter to read them sequentially and summarize
what patterns of change they see in themselves on the
basis of what they read. What comes out about 80% of
the time is a narrative. The early notes indicate
uncertainty, anxiety, confusion" "Why didn't Cole
tell us what we were getting in to?" Then they see a
change in their own understanding, a new way of being
with kids, evidence of their own childhood coming out
in the interactions, a new orientation to fellow
students, a new orientation to their roles. At the
same time, the affective character of the notes
changes and the student narratives pick up on this
with a sense of some wonderment. Many, at the end,
are still uncertain of exactly what all of this was
about, but they belive (and the evidence of their
notes backs them up) that they have undergone a big
change along
several dimensions.

I think this is a form of reflective writing, but I
am not sure that I have pulled them so out of the
context that authentic connection to the experience
is lost.

There is also a reflection section in each day's
notes. This is a different matter. It is still based
on their own narratives and this aspect of their
writing seems to change more slowly. But one trend is
interesting vis a vis the theory-practice aspect of
the course. They are most likely to bring theoretical
concepts into their daily note in the reflection
section and only later, and often, only if they take
a second quarter of the practicum, do theoretical
concepts move up to become descriptors. And when they
do, they often enter transformed in interesting ways.
For example, students create expressions like "I saw
(the undergraduate) Suzie "zopeding" with (two
children) Aaron and George.

Anyway, I think that reflection can become a regular
part of the practice of the course just as we seek to
provide opportunities for it among the kids in the
way we organize the rules of participation in the
idioculture, even if the specific kinds of reflection
are different.

I also find using a webboard where students see each
others' notes and can comment very helpful in this
regard. There is an authentic reason having to do
with the practices at the site-- students go twice a
week and can check on what kids have been doing with
others in their absence so that they key in more
effectively-- and they often make helpful comments on
others' notes or, even, say that the other notes
helped them to understand something new......
distributed reflection?

I hope this is not too far off track.