6 more reflective and mindful activities for exam learners

One of the many reasons why I love delivering workshops is because working together with other teachers on the workshops’ activities paves the way to new ideas and activities become a springboard for new directions. This is what also happened in last Sunday’s workshop where through our experimentation with self-reflective and mindful activities, the need for extra tasks for exam preparation students emerged. A wonderful brainstorming session began, lots of amazing ideas were shared and as always I was inspired to write a post as a follow-up to the discussion and share six additional practical activities we can use to incorporate reflection and an appreciation of the present moment in exam learners’ learning journey.

  1. Celebrating mistakes: I’ve blogged about the importance of embracing mistakes before (post 1, post 2) and how doing so helps learners realize their significance as learning experiences and important parts of any learning journey. In this activity, learners create a list with some of their most common mistakes (either related to specific areas of grammar/lexis/skills or to study habits/time management strategies etc.), share what they can learn / what they’ve learned from them (e.g. working on tasks at the very last minute makes me more stressed and I feel that I can’t fully concentrate on the task at hand) and think of strategies they can apply to their next learning steps.
  2. My Progress Map: This is an extension of the previous activity and it’s one I’ve often used as an end-of-school reflection task with different groups of learners. It focuses on asking learners to create a map / storyboard / a video etc. of their progress journey and represent visually what this journey looks like by identifying their areas of improvement, the challenges they faced and their personal achievements which as mentioned before could also relate to their approach to learning or study habits.
  3. Post-exam visualization: Exam prep classes are often associated with product-oriented approaches and a mindset that passing an exam determines the “success” of both learners and the exam prep course’s effectiveness as well. Although passing the exam is indeed learners’ main target need, it is very important to remind our learners of the significance of learning as a lifelong journey and help them realize that taking an exam is just a small step in this journey that does not define them as learners or signify the end of the learning process. This visualization strategy helps learners identify the feelings they consciously and unconsciously associate with exam success and focus on the process and the steps they need to follow to reach their exam goal.
  4.  Bag of emotions: This is an activity I often use when working on stress management strategies with my learners and it is also an exercise I’ve personally used to manage my own stress levels. It focuses on asking learners to identify both the positive and negative feelings they associate with the exam experience and explore what helps them reinforce the positive feelings as well as what helps them manage the negative ones.
  5.  Peer journaling: I love the idea of using journals as both a self and peer reflection tool! In this task, learners reflect on their progress together (what have we achieved so far? what has been interesting/difficult about our journey? etc.) and then share what they found interesting / inspiring / unexpected etc. about their partner’s learning journey.
  6.  Desert Island Playlist Exams Edition: Music has always been a huge part of my life and as a musician I always have playlists of songs that are meaningful to me. In this activity, I extend the focus to things that help learners remain positive and ask them to think of songs, movies, moments etc. that are meaningful to them, but also help them relax and remind them of what matters to them in life. They then share the reasons why they chose the specific items for their list and at the end of the year reflect on how the chosen items have helped them in the exam preparation process.

Here’s the Canva poster I created with all the suggestions mentioned above. What else would you add to the list? What other activities have you used with your learners?





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