Promoting self-reflection and independent learning with IXL

With a focus on supporting ELL students, new teacher induction programs, and curriculum development, Sheila Berger brings nearly a decade of educational experience to her role as a Professional Learning Specialist.

Critical thinking, initiative, the ability to self-remediate—you’ll notice all three of these skills in successful independent learners. While it takes time to build the skills needed to learn independently, there are small steps you can take to change the way your students approach their work. 

Self-reflection is an often overlooked but extremely valuable practice to incorporate in your students’ routines! It allows students to clearly articulate what worked in their approach and the next steps they can take to continue striving toward their goals. 

No matter what stage of the learning process, IXL provides actionable insights that students can use to reflect on their academic progress. 

Step 1: Choosing a short period for reflection 

Self-reflection fits into any classroom routine, whether it’s a single class period or an opportunity to look back after finishing a chapter. The more often students are able to reflect, the more intentional their learning will be! 

Here are several easy opportunities to jumpstart self-reflection: 

  • After finishing a whole-class Group Jam
  • After completing a month-long Leaderboard 
  • At the end of independent skill practice 
  • After completing an IXL quiz 

Consider stepping outside of IXL and academic work to encourage self-reflection—perhaps after a weekend or holiday break. This can help students get comfortable with the self-reflection framework and help them better articulate their academic achievements! 

Step 2: Providing the reflection framework 

After students have completed their activity, outline the framework for their self-reflection in a whole-class or small-group discussion. The language you use is particularly important. Instead of asking for “pros and cons” you can instead focus on “pluses and deltas,” to hone in on what can be improved rather than on weaknesses. 

Have students pose open-ended questions like: 

  • What did I notice went well? 
  • What challenges did I meet? 
  • How did I work through those challenges? 
  • What can I do differently in the future? 

These open ended questions allow students to get comfortable with the reflection process and build their reflective muscles for more challenging work later. Providing sentence framing reminds students what their reflection should include:

  • I noticed _________ went well because _________. 
  • I noticed ________ was more challenging because ________. 
  • Next time, I’d like to _______ so that _______. 

Self-reflection can happen in a variety of settings. Consider having students write their reflections in a journal and then form pairs or small groups for discussion. Sharing their takeaways with peers can help them reinforce what they’ve learned. 

Step 3: Reflecting on long term progress with the Student Summary report 

Now that students understand the framework, they’re ready to take a look at their bigger picture progress on IXL. The Student Summary report in IXL Analytics is accessible from student accounts, and it’s an easy way for them to see their progress all in one place! 

To start, have students review their IXL accomplishments section and ask the following: 

  • Where have I been spending my time?
  • Have I been meeting my teacher’s expectations for IXL usage? 
  • What evidence supports that? 
  • What am I most proud of? 

Remind students that the goal of self-reflection is to be clear about what worked, what didn’t, and what can be done in the future. Be sure to model expectations so that students understand the importance of providing evidence for their observations. 

Consider sharing an example of a thoughtful, evidence-based reflection like the one below: 

“I notice that I’ve mastered the most skills in fractions. I’m really excited to see this because I know this is an area of growth for me. I also notice that all but one of my mastered/proficient skills is math.”

Pro tip: When beginning, set the date range filter on the report to “today.” As students get more comfortable with reflection, they can set the date range to match the dates of a unit or grading period. 

Next, have students take a look at the areas to focus on section within the report. In this section, students can review the exact skills they’ve struggled with and find recommended skills to revisit. With this information, students have all the information they need to answer the following questions: 

  • Where can I improve? 
  • What skills can I work on next? 
  • What diagnostic strand should I focus on first? 

To accelerate student progress, consider recording students’ next steps and goals. This leads to more accountability and provides another data point the next time they reflect. Be specific, positive, and actionable when giving guidance on reflection.

Step 4: Make self-reflection a part of classroom culture 

When practicing self-reflection and building independent learning skills, consistency is key. Over time, it will become less of a compulsory practice and more of a natural response to everyday activities. Here’s how you can continue to promote a reflective environment with IXL: 

  • Set expectations and standards for self-reflection
  • Celebrate recognizing an area of growth or a recent progress or win
  • Use Leaderboards or Analytics to recognize students on a daily or weekly basis, or over the course of a unit

Want to learn more about how you can use IXL to promote independent learning? Check out our instructional resources