All teachers are familiar with the idea of “warm-ups” (some call them “bellringers”) — activities that students know they are to begin as soon as they enter the classroom. For example, my English students know they need to be seated and reading a book of their choice (or looking for one in the classroom library) two minutes prior to the bell ringing; my Geography, U.S. History and World History students read books of their choice related to those subject areas (I have class libraries for each subject); and my International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge classes typically need to do some quick reading or writing activity that’s on the board and/or on their desks when they enter the classroom.

I call them all “Warm-Ups” and they work well.

On the other end of things, I have tried off-and-on over the years to have regular end-of-class reflection activities (some call a version of them “exit tickets”). One tool I’ve developed is what I call a Daily Reflection Activity sheet.

It has a list of twelve different reflective activities that students can do, and sometimes I’ll let students choose which one they’d like to complete and other times I select one for them.

Those activities have not always gone so well, and I’ve had a hard time making them a regular part of our class routine. I’m a big believer in the power of reflection, and have students do a reflective activity at the end of each week and at the end of units and semesters (see The Best Resources On Student & Teacher Reflection). Those have been successful.

Fairly often, however, my announcement of a reflection sheet at the end of a class lesson is met with groans. Plenty of research emphasizes the importance of ending experiences positively, so those negative reactions make me reluctant to have those class-closing activities.

I’ve been ruminating on a recent post by Daniel Coyle, the author of “The Talent Code” (see my interview with him here). His piece is titled Stop Doing Drills; Start Using Challenges. In it, he discusses the idea of discarding the word “drills” and replacing it with “challenges” — and also talks about a San Antonio Spur practice they call “Vitamins” (hence the use of that word in the title of this post). He, and many people who left comments on his post, talk about the importance of the language we use to describe regular practice (and regular warm-ups, bell-ringers, and exit slips).

I don’t believe language is at the root of the issue my students are having with end-of-class reflection activities, but it might make a small contribution.

What has your experience been with end-of-class reflective activities — what has worked, what hasn’t?