Reflection Routines and Tools
May 25, 2018

Try some of these routines to jump start reflection with students. Download the reflection tools to use with students. Read more about using reflection with students to “connect the dots” in their learning here.

Class Arrival Time

Leadership-Prompt Lotus Diagram

Students spend the first 5 minutes of the day reflecting on a leadership prompt. Great as a weekly routine with elementary students. This can be used monthly with middle-school students


  • As students arrive, they grab their Leadership Notebooks and settle in.
  • Then, students choose a prompt from the leadership-prompts Lotus Diagram and write or draw their reflections in their Leadership Notebook.


  • Make it a game of bingo by having students choose prompts from the Lotus Diagram until they’ve completed a full row of reflection across, down, or diagonal (two or three reflections) to get “BINGO!”


Reflection Brainstormer Tool

Students begin the day by brainstorming key concepts related to a topic relevant to recent learning. This can be a daily, weekly, or monthly routine with elementary and middle-school students.


  • Choose a topic based on recent learning or events.
  • Ask students to draw a circle in the middle of their paper and write the topic in the circle (or use the Brainstormer).
  • Then, ask them to draw radiating lines from the circle and write key concepts related to the topic on the lines or in additional circles attached to the lines.
  • Lastly, ask them to highlight something they are unclear about. You can use the “unclears” to identify and address learning gaps for individual students or look for trends in the class.


  • For students with little Brainstormer experience, consider using these 7 Habits templates. Students reflect by answering the questions below the Brainstormer bubbles.
  • Once reflection is part of the classroom routine, empower students to choose the topic. Begin by creating a list of recent key concepts to choose from or invite students to help create a list. Students could rotate through this task and choose for everyone, or choose individually.


Habit and Leadership Role Reflection Sheet

Students answer the prompts on the reflection sheet in their Leadership Notebook before the day begins. This is a great weekly or monthly routine for elementary and middle-school students. The cadence of the routine will depend upon how often you want students to reflect on the habits and how often they change leadership roles.


  • As students arrive, they grab their Leadership Notebooks and settle in.
  • Then, students answer the prompts on the reflection sheet in their Leadership Notebook.


  • Add personal- and/or classroom-mission-statement reflection. Students write down their personal mission, then answer the questions “How did my behaviors match my mission? How could I improve?” Students write their class mission down, then answer the questions “How did my behaviors match our class mission? How could I improve?”
  • Include anticipatory reflection. As students begin a leadership role, they complete the sentence “Through this leadership role I hope to learn _______.” As students end a leadership role, they complete the sentence “I could improve this experience for the next student by _______” and/or “The new skills I learned in this leadership role were ______________ and I learned __________________ about myself while serving in this role. I plan to continue using these leadership skills by ___________________.”
  • Reflect on each of the 5 Core Paradigms of Leader in Me® one at a time. Have students complete a Plus/Delta Chart for each of the paradigms, answering the questions “What do I do well that demonstrates this paradigm?” and “What could I do better?” This is a great activity for Accountability Partners or small groups.

Blog to Connect Reflection With Family and Caring Adults

Students dedicate 5-10 minutes at the beginning of the day to writing a blog about a leadership role, recent learning, or classroom experience. This can be a weekly, monthly, or semester-based routine for elementary and middle-school students.


  • Provide a prompt about a leadership role, recent learning, or classroom experience.
  • Invite students to be the “featured author” of a blog post they’ll share with their family and/or a caring adult.
  • Ask them to write a blog entry about the prompt provided.
  • Encourage families and/or caring adults to respond to the student’s blog, creating a reflection dialog.


  • If your school doesn’t have opportunities for students to maintain an electronic blog, students can write their blog on paper and share it with family members or a caring adult and seek feedback on the blog reflection. They then keep their blog in their Leadership Notebook.

Class Meetings

Turn-and-Talk With Your Accountability Partner

Students reflect with their Accountability Partner, building both their reflection skills and their relationships. This can be a weekly or monthly routine with elementary and middle-school students.



  • If you don’t yet have Accountability Partners, this can be done with any partner (e.g., an elbow partner) or in groups of three.
  • For longer discussions, use the “Turn-and-Talk” hand out.

Daily Wrap Up

Sticky Notes

Students use sticky notes to create learning connections. This is a great daily or weekly routine with elementary and middle-school students.


  • Say, “For the next 5 minutes, we’re going to quickly connect the dots from our learning. Let’s start by taking a moment to think about what we learned today.”
  • Ask students to write the following on three separate sticky notes:
    • How they feel about what they learned today. Did they “get it”?
    • How what they learned today connects to what they learned yesterday.
    • What they wonder about what they learned and how they can use it tomorrow.
  • Next, have students place the sticky notes on the Sticky Note Reflection tool.
  • Then, ask them to turn to their shoulder partner and share what they wrote down, answering these two questions:
    • What do we have on our sticky notes that is the same?
    • What is different?
  • After 3 minutes, direct the students to write anything new they learned from their chat on their Sticky Note Reflection tool.


  • Post chart paper beside the door with a topic written at the top. Students write how that topic connect to previous learning or what they wonder about the topic on a sticky note and post it on the chart paper as they leave for the day.

Exit Tickets

Students use the last few minutes of the day or class period to reflect on the day’s learning, sharing what they learned and questions they have with the teacher in written form. This can be a daily routine with elementary and middle-school students.


  • Ask students to write answers to prompts such as “What was the most important thing you learned today? What questions do you still have?” on an index card or exit-ticket card.
  • Collect cards from students before they leave. They can be handed in or placed in a collection drop box. This is a great opportunity for a leadership role: have one student collect cards or maintains the exit ticket drop box.


  • Have students reflect on sticky notes and post them on chart paper near the door as they leave.


Tools to Download and Print:

Leadership-Prompt Lotus Diagram

7 Habits Templates

Reflection Sheets

5 Core Paradigms

Accountability Partner Reflection Tool

Turn-and-Talk Handout

Sticky Note Reflection Tool

Exit Tickets (This is two tools in one! Cut in half on dotted line.)


Find the Plus/Delta Chart and Brainstormer at

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