Write a three-paragraph reflective essay that focuses on something you did or studied in school in the past year — or before that, if you choose.
- Your essay must explain how this study affected you as a person (showing some change in emotional, spiritual, intellectual, or ethical life).
- Your essay must apply that personal reflection to a larger social context, explaining how some larger social group (your peers, local community, the nation, the world) is affected by a related issue.
- Your essay should be written in a 12-point font with standard margins.
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This is a good assignment because reflection on learning is quite important. Many students, though, are confused about how to write a reflective essay, so let's talk about that first. A reflective essay is written in the first person, meaning you are expected to use the word "I." When you reflect, you are always writing from your own point of view. A reflective essay is meant to explain and discuss your ideas about your learning experience. For example, if I were writing a reflective essay about learning how to play the piano, I might discuss how awkward it felt to try to play different notes with the left hand and the right hand, and how practicing each hand separately helped tremendously. I might reflect on the importance of knowing musical terms, the vocabulary of this subject, or I might reflect on how knowing scales very well helped to build my skills because scales are the building blocks of music. I could talk about the pleasure of finally being able to play a piece competently. The idea is that I am explaining to my reader how I have grappled with a subject and managed to learn. I am explaining to my reader the pains and pleasures of learning. Reflection is really thinking about thinking. How did I learn? What were my successes and failures? Where did I fail? What did I do to overcome that failure? What have I learned about how I learn?
Now, as for the topic upon which you write, I will say that it is far easier to write a reflective piece on something you struggled with than something that came easily. There is just so much more to talk about! What have you struggled with this past school year? If writing is difficult for you, then you might discuss how you struggled with writing a paper, how you had a hard time finding a topic, or went through many revisions, what your thoughts were as you struggled.
If you were to write about writing, then how could you tie that to a larger social context? Well, for one thing, writing is a social act, a form of communication with other human beings. If people did not write, they could not communicate over time or space. Think about all the writing you do: emails, blogs, texting, school papers, etc.
The form of your essay is really set up for you already. The first paragraph is an intoduction, in which you explain your main idea about what you will be writing about, along with a kind of preview for the reader about reflection and social context. The middle paragraph is the body, in which you reflect on your learning and explain the social context into which your learning fits. Finally, the last paragraph is a wrap up, a restatement of your main idea and a review of the points you have made.
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