What is Reflective Discussion ?

Reflective discussions encourage students to think and talk about what they have observed, heard or read. The teacher or student initiates the discussion by asking a question that requires students to reflect upon and interpret films, experiences, read or recorded stories, or illustrations. As students question and recreate information and events in a film or story, they clarify their thoughts and feelings. The questions posed should encourage students to relate story content to life experiences and to other stories. These questions will elicit personal interpretations and feelings. Interpretations will vary, but such variances demonstrate that differences of opinion are valuable.

What is its purpose?

  • to use questions to stimulate reflection and extend comprehension
  • to challenge students' thinking by inviting them to interpret, infer, summarize, form conclusions and evaluate selections
  • to extend personal responses by considering the views of others
  • to share personal thoughts, feelings and images evoked by literature selections, films, illustrations and experiences

How do I do it?

  • Pose a question to initiate discussion.
  • This question should be an inferential or open-ended question to which there is no single correct answer.
  • This question should require students to make an inference or assumption, or to interpret what they have observed, heard or read.
  • The first question should reveal students' understanding of the main theme, message or purpose of the selection.
  • Additional questions posed by teacher and students should serve to clarify and extend personal interpretations.
  • Discussions should encourage students to relate events and characters to other selections and to life experiences.
  • Resulting questions, concerns or issues may be resolved by rereading passages or viewing films a second time.

How can I adapt it?

  • Students could initiate discussions about resources in all subject areas.
  • Reflective discussions can be incorporated into the following strategies:
    • Book talks
    • Conferencing
    • Co-operative learning
    • Literature study
    • Reading logs

Assessment and Evaluation Considerations

  • Monitor students' interest and participation in sharing interpretations and responses.
  • Note students' ability to orally express their thoughts, feelings and understandings.
  • Note students who pose questions to clarify their understandings.
  • Observe students' ability to listen to and respect the views and opinions of others.

Teacher Resources


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