write a reflection paper on what you have watched

Guide on How to Write a Reflection Paper with Free Tips and Example

write a reflection paper on what you have watched

A reflection paper is a very common type of paper among college students. Almost any subject you enroll in requires you to express your opinion on certain matters. In this article, we will explain how to write a reflection paper and provide examples and useful tips to make the essay writing process easier.

Reflection papers should have an academic tone yet be personal and subjective. In this paper, you should analyze and reflect upon how an experience, academic task, article, or lecture shaped your perception and thoughts on a subject.

Here is what you need to know about writing an effective critical reflection paper. Stick around until the end of our guide to get some useful writing tips from the writing team at EssayPro — a research paper writing service

What Is a Reflection Paper

A reflection paper is a type of paper that requires you to write your opinion on a topic, supporting it with your observations and personal experiences. As opposed to presenting your reader with the views of other academics and writers, in this essay, you get an opportunity to write your point of view—and the best part is that there is no wrong answer. It is YOUR opinion, and it is your job to express your thoughts in a manner that will be understandable and clear for all readers that will read your paper. The topic range is endless. Here are some examples: whether or not you think aliens exist, your favorite TV show, or your opinion on the outcome of WWII. You can write about pretty much anything.

There are three types of reflection paper; depending on which one you end up with, the tone you write with can be slightly different. The first type is the educational reflective paper. Here your job is to write feedback about a book, movie, or seminar you attended—in a manner that teaches the reader about it. The second is the professional paper. Usually, it is written by people who study or work in education or psychology. For example, it can be a reflection of someone’s behavior. And the last is the personal type, which explores your thoughts and feelings about an individual subject.

However, reflection paper writing will stop eventually with one very important final paper to write - your resume. This is where you will need to reflect on your entire life leading up to that moment. To learn how to list education on resume perfectly, follow the link on our dissertation writing services .

Unlock the potential of your thoughts with EssayPro . Order a reflection paper and explore a range of other academic services tailored to your needs. Dive deep into your experiences, analyze them with expert guidance, and turn your insights into an impactful reflection paper.

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Free Reflection Paper Example

Now that we went over all of the essentials about a reflection paper and how to approach it, we would like to show you some examples that will definitely help you with getting started on your paper.

Reflection Paper Format

Reflection papers typically do not follow any specific format. Since it is your opinion, professors usually let you handle them in any comfortable way. It is best to write your thoughts freely, without guideline constraints. If a personal reflection paper was assigned to you, the format of your paper might depend on the criteria set by your professor. College reflection papers (also known as reflection essays) can typically range from about 400-800 words in length.

Here’s how we can suggest you format your reflection paper:

common reflection paper format

How to Start a Reflection Paper

The first thing to do when beginning to work on a reflection essay is to read your article thoroughly while taking notes. Whether you are reflecting on, for example, an activity, book/newspaper, or academic essay, you want to highlight key ideas and concepts.

You can start writing your reflection paper by summarizing the main concept of your notes to see if your essay includes all the information needed for your readers. It is helpful to add charts, diagrams, and lists to deliver your ideas to the audience in a better fashion.

After you have finished reading your article, it’s time to brainstorm. We’ve got a simple brainstorming technique for writing reflection papers. Just answer some of the basic questions below:

  • How did the article affect you?
  • How does this article catch the reader’s attention (or does it all)?
  • Has the article changed your mind about something? If so, explain how.
  • Has the article left you with any questions?
  • Were there any unaddressed critical issues that didn’t appear in the article?
  • Does the article relate to anything from your past reading experiences?
  • Does the article agree with any of your past reading experiences?

Here are some reflection paper topic examples for you to keep in mind before preparing to write your own:

  • How my views on rap music have changed over time
  • My reflection and interpretation of Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • Why my theory about the size of the universe has changed over time
  • How my observations for clinical psychological studies have developed in the last year

The result of your brainstorming should be a written outline of the contents of your future paper. Do not skip this step, as it will ensure that your essay will have a proper flow and appropriate organization.

Another good way to organize your ideas is to write them down in a 3-column chart or table.

how to write a reflection paper

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If you would like your reflection paper to look professional, feel free to check out one of our articles on how to format MLA, APA or Chicago style

Writing a Reflection Paper Outline

Reflection paper should contain few key elements:

Introduction

Your introduction should specify what you’re reflecting upon. Make sure that your thesis informs your reader about your general position, or opinion, toward your subject.

  • State what you are analyzing: a passage, a lecture, an academic article, an experience, etc...)
  • Briefly summarize the work.
  • Write a thesis statement stating how your subject has affected you.

One way you can start your thesis is to write:

Example: “After reading/experiencing (your chosen topic), I gained the knowledge of…”

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs should examine your ideas and experiences in context to your topic. Make sure each new body paragraph starts with a topic sentence.

Your reflection may include quotes and passages if you are writing about a book or an academic paper. They give your reader a point of reference to fully understand your feedback. Feel free to describe what you saw, what you heard, and how you felt.

Example: “I saw many people participating in our weight experiment. The atmosphere felt nervous yet inspiring. I was amazed by the excitement of the event.”

As with any conclusion, you should summarize what you’ve learned from the experience. Next, tell the reader how your newfound knowledge has affected your understanding of the subject in general. Finally, describe the feeling and overall lesson you had from the reading or experience.

There are a few good ways to conclude a reflection paper:

  • Tie all the ideas from your body paragraphs together, and generalize the major insights you’ve experienced.
  • Restate your thesis and summarize the content of your paper.

We have a separate blog post dedicated to writing a great conclusion. Be sure to check it out for an in-depth look at how to make a good final impression on your reader.

Need a hand? Get help from our writers. Edit, proofread or buy essay .

How to Write a Reflection Paper: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: create a main theme.

After you choose your topic, write a short summary about what you have learned about your experience with that topic. Then, let readers know how you feel about your case — and be honest. Chances are that your readers will likely be able to relate to your opinion or at least the way you form your perspective, which will help them better understand your reflection.

For example: After watching a TEDx episode on Wim Hof, I was able to reevaluate my preconceived notions about the negative effects of cold exposure.

Step 2: Brainstorm Ideas and Experiences You’ve Had Related to Your Topic

You can write down specific quotes, predispositions you have, things that influenced you, or anything memorable. Be personal and explain, in simple words, how you felt.

For example: • A lot of people think that even a small amount of carbohydrates will make people gain weight • A specific moment when I struggled with an excess weight where I avoided carbohydrates entirely • The consequences of my actions that gave rise to my research • The evidence and studies of nutritional science that claim carbohydrates alone are to blame for making people obese • My new experience with having a healthy diet with a well-balanced intake of nutrients • The influence of other people’s perceptions on the harm of carbohydrates, and the role their influence has had on me • New ideas I’ve created as a result of my shift in perspective

Step 3: Analyze How and Why These Ideas and Experiences Have Affected Your Interpretation of Your Theme

Pick an idea or experience you had from the last step, and analyze it further. Then, write your reasoning for agreeing or disagreeing with it.

For example, Idea: I was raised to think that carbohydrates make people gain weight.

Analysis: Most people think that if they eat any carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, and sugar, they will gain weight. I believe in this misconception to such a great extent that I avoided carbohydrates entirely. As a result, my blood glucose levels were very low. I needed to do a lot of research to overcome my beliefs finally. Afterward, I adopted the philosophy of “everything in moderation” as a key to a healthy lifestyle.

For example: Idea: I was brought up to think that carbohydrates make people gain weight. Analysis: Most people think that if they eat any carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, and sugar, they will gain weight. I believe in this misconception to such a great extent that I avoided carbohydrates entirely. As a result, my blood glucose levels were very low. I needed to do a lot of my own research to finally overcome my beliefs. After, I adopted the philosophy of “everything in moderation” as a key for having a healthy lifestyle.

Step 4: Make Connections Between Your Observations, Experiences, and Opinions

Try to connect your ideas and insights to form a cohesive picture for your theme. You can also try to recognize and break down your assumptions, which you may challenge in the future.

There are some subjects for reflection papers that are most commonly written about. They include:

  • Book – Start by writing some information about the author’s biography and summarize the plot—without revealing the ending to keep your readers interested. Make sure to include the names of the characters, the main themes, and any issues mentioned in the book. Finally, express your thoughts and reflect on the book itself.
  • Course – Including the course name and description is a good place to start. Then, you can write about the course flow, explain why you took this course, and tell readers what you learned from it. Since it is a reflection paper, express your opinion, supporting it with examples from the course.
  • Project – The structure for a reflection paper about a project has identical guidelines to that of a course. One of the things you might want to add would be the pros and cons of the course. Also, mention some changes you might want to see, and evaluate how relevant the skills you acquired are to real life.
  • Interview – First, introduce the person and briefly mention the discussion. Touch on the main points, controversies, and your opinion of that person.

Writing Tips

Everyone has their style of writing a reflective essay – and that's the beauty of it; you have plenty of leeway with this type of paper – but there are still a few tips everyone should incorporate.

Before you start your piece, read some examples of other papers; they will likely help you better understand what they are and how to approach yours. When picking your subject, try to write about something unusual and memorable — it is more likely to capture your readers' attention. Never write the whole essay at once. Space out the time slots when you work on your reflection paper to at least a day apart. This will allow your brain to generate new thoughts and reflections.

  • Short and Sweet – Most reflection papers are between 250 and 750 words. Don't go off on tangents. Only include relevant information.
  • Clear and Concise – Make your paper as clear and concise as possible. Use a strong thesis statement so your essay can follow it with the same strength.
  • Maintain the Right Tone – Use a professional and academic tone—even though the writing is personal.
  • Cite Your Sources – Try to cite authoritative sources and experts to back up your personal opinions.
  • Proofreading – Not only should you proofread for spelling and grammatical errors, but you should proofread to focus on your organization as well. Answer the question presented in the introduction.

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How to start a reflection paper, how long should a reflection paper be, related articles.

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How to Write a Reflection Paper

Last Updated: March 27, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Alicia Cook . Alicia Cook is a Professional Writer based in Newark, New Jersey. With over 12 years of experience, Alicia specializes in poetry and uses her platform to advocate for families affected by addiction and to fight for breaking the stigma against addiction and mental illness. She holds a BA in English and Journalism from Georgian Court University and an MBA from Saint Peter’s University. Alicia is a bestselling poet with Andrews McMeel Publishing and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets including the NY Post, CNN, USA Today, the HuffPost, the LA Times, American Songwriter Magazine, and Bustle. She was named by Teen Vogue as one of the 10 social media poets to know and her poetry mixtape, “Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately” was a finalist in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 3,804,837 times.

Reflection papers allow you to communicate with your instructor about how a specific article, lesson, lecture, or experience shapes your understanding of class-related material. Reflection papers are personal and subjective [1] X Research source , but they must still maintain a somewhat academic tone and must still be thoroughly and cohesively organized. Here's what you need to know about writing an effective reflection.

Things You Should Know

  • Write an introduction that outlines the expectations you had and provide a thesis statement in the last sentence.
  • State your conclusions in the body paragraphs of the paper. Explain how you arrived at your conclusions using logic and concrete details.
  • Conclude the paper with a concise summary of your overall experience.

Sample Outline and Paper

write a reflection paper on what you have watched

Brainstorming

Step 1 Identify the main themes.

  • These sentences should be both descriptive yet straight to the point.

Step 2 Jot down material that stands out in your mind.

  • For lectures or readings, you can write down specific quotations or summarize passages.
  • For experiences, make a note of specific portions of your experience. You could even write a small summary or story of an event that happened during the experience that stands out. Images, sounds, or other sensory portions of your experience work, as well.

Alicia Cook

  • In the first column, list the main points or key experiences. These points can include anything that the author or speaker treated with importance as well as any specific details you found to be important. Divide each point into its own separate row.
  • In the second column, list your personal response to the points you brought up in the first column. Mention how your subjective values, experiences, and beliefs influence your response.
  • In the third and last column, describe how much of your personal response to share in your reflection paper.

Step 4 Ask yourself questions to guide your response.

  • Does the reading, lecture, or experience challenge you socially, culturally, emotionally, or theologically? If so, where and how? Why does it bother you or catch your attention?
  • Has the reading, lecture, or experience changed your way of thinking? Did it conflict with beliefs you held previously, and what evidence did it provide you with in order to change your thought process on the topic?
  • Does the reading, lecture, or experience leave you with any questions? Were these questions ones you had previously or ones you developed only after finishing?
  • Did the author, speaker, or those involved in the experience fail to address any important issues? Could a certain fact or idea have dramatically changed the impact or conclusion of the reading, lecture, or experience?
  • How do the issues or ideas brought up in this reading, lecture, or experience mesh with past experiences or readings? Do the ideas contradict or support each other?

Organizing a Reflection Paper

Step 1 Keep it short and sweet.

  • Verify whether or not your instructor specified a word count for the paper instead of merely following this average.
  • If your instructor demands a word count outside of this range, meet your instructor's requirements.

Step 2 Introduce your expectations.

  • For a reading or lecture, indicate what you expected based on the title, abstract, or introduction.
  • For an experience, indicate what you expected based on prior knowledge provided by similar experiences or information from others.

Step 3 Develop a thesis statement.

  • This is essentially a brief explanation of whether or not your expectations were met.
  • A thesis provides focus and cohesion for your reflection paper.
  • You could structure a reflection thesis along the following lines: “From this reading/experience, I learned...”

Step 4 Explain your conclusions in the body.

  • Your conclusions must be explained. You should provide details on how you arrived at those conclusions using logic and concrete details.
  • The focus of the paper is not a summary of the text, but you still need to draw concrete, specific details from the text or experience in order to provide context for your conclusions.
  • Write a separate paragraph for each conclusion or idea you developed.
  • Each paragraph should have its own topic sentence. This topic sentence should clearly identify your major points, conclusions, or understandings.

Step 5 Conclude with a summary.

  • The conclusions or understandings explained in your body paragraphs should support your overall conclusion. One or two may conflict, but the majority should support your final conclusion.

As You Write

Step 1 Reveal information wisely.

  • If you feel uncomfortable about a personal issue that affects the conclusions you reached, it is wisest not to include personal details about it.
  • If a certain issue is unavoidable but you feel uncomfortable revealing your personal experiences or feelings regarding it, write about the issue in more general terms. Identify the issue itself and indicate concerns you have professionally or academically.

Step 2 Maintain a professional or academic tone.

  • Avoid dragging someone else down in your writing. If a particular person made the experience you are reflecting on difficult, unpleasant, or uncomfortable, you must still maintain a level of detachment as you describe that person's influence. Instead of stating something like, “Bob was such a rude jerk,” say something more along the lines of, “One man was abrupt and spoke harshly, making me feel as though I was not welcome there.” Describe the actions, not the person, and frame those actions within the context of how they influenced your conclusions.
  • A reflection paper is one of the few pieces of academic writing in which you can get away with using the first person pronoun “I.” That said, you should still relate your subjective feelings and opinions using specific evidence to explain them. [8] X Research source
  • Avoid slang and always use correct spelling and grammar. Internet abbreviations like “LOL” or “OMG” are fine to use personally among friends and family, but this is still an academic paper, so you need to treat it with the grammatical respect it deserves. Do not treat it as a personal journal entry.
  • Check and double-check your spelling and grammar after you finish your paper.

Step 3 Review your reflection paper at the sentence level.

  • Keep your sentences focused. Avoid squeezing multiple ideas into one sentence.
  • Avoid sentence fragments. Make sure that each sentence has a subject and a verb.
  • Vary your sentence length. Include both simple sentences with a single subject and verb and complex sentences with multiple clauses. Doing so makes your paper sound more conversational and natural, and prevents the writing from becoming too wooden. [9] X Research source

Step 4 Use transitions.

  • Common transitional phrases include "for example," "for instance," "as a result," "an opposite view is," and "a different perspective is."

Step 5 Relate relevant classroom information to the experience or reading.

  • For instance, if reflecting on a piece of literary criticism, you could mention how your beliefs and ideas about the literary theory addressed in the article relate to what your instructor taught you about it or how it applies to prose and poetry read in class.
  • As another example, if reflecting on a new social experience for a sociology class, you could relate that experience to specific ideas or social patterns discussed in class.

Expert Q&A

Alicia Cook

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  • ↑ https://www.csuohio.edu/writing-center/reflection-papers
  • ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/assignments/reflectionpaper
  • ↑ Alicia Cook. Professional Writer. Expert Interview. 11 December 2020.
  • ↑ https://www.trentu.ca/academicskills/how-guides/how-write-university/how-approach-any-assignment/how-write-reflection-paper
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/conclusions/
  • ↑ https://www.anu.edu.au/students/academic-skills/writing-assessment/reflective-writing/reflective-essays
  • ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/scholarlyvoice/sentencestructure

About This Article

Alicia Cook

To write a reflection paper, start with an introduction where you state any expectations you had for the reading, lesson, or experience you're reflecting on. At the end of your intro, include a thesis statement that explains how your views have changed. In the body of your essay, explain the conclusions you reached after the reading, lesson, or experience and discuss how you arrived at them. Finally, finish your paper with a succinct conclusion that explains what you've learned. To learn how to brainstorm for your paper, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Write a Reflection Paper

Why reflective writing, experiential reflection, reading reflection.

  • A note on mechanics

Reflection offers you the opportunity to consider how your personal experiences and observations shape your thinking and your acceptance of new ideas.  Professors often ask students to write reading reflections.  They do this to encourage you to explore your own ideas about a text, to express your opinion rather than summarize the opinions of others.  Reflective writing can help you to improve your analytical skills because it requires you to express what you think, and more significantly, how and why you think that way.  In addition, reflective analysis asks you to acknowledge that your thoughts are shaped by your assumptions and preconceived ideas; in doing so, you can appreciate the ideas of others, notice how their assumptions and preconceived ideas may have shaped their thoughts, and perhaps recognize how your ideas support or oppose what you read.

Types of Reflective Writing

Popular in professional programs, like business, nursing, social work, forensics and education, reflection is an important part of making connections between theory and practice.  When you are asked to reflect upon experience in a placement, you do not only describe your experience, but you evaluate it based on ideas from class.  You can assess a theory or approach based on your observations and practice and evaluate your own knowledge and skills within your professional field.   This opportunity to take the time to think about your choices, your actions, your successes and your failures is best done within a specific framework, like course themes or work placement objectives.  Abstract concepts can become concrete and real to you when considered within your own experiences, and reflection on your experiences allows you to make plans for improvement.

To encourage thoughtful and balanced assessment of readings, many interdisciplinary courses may ask you to submit a reading reflection.  Often instructors will indicate to students what they expect of a reflection, but the general purpose is to elicit your informed opinions about ideas presented in the text and to consider how they affect your interpretation.   Reading reflections offer an opportunity to recognize – and perhaps break down – your assumptions which may be challenged by the text(s). 

Approaches to Reflective Inquiry

You may wonder how your professors assess your reflective writing.  What are they looking for? How can my experiences or ideas be right or wrong?  Your instructors expect you to critically engage with concepts from your course by making connections between your observations, experiences, and opinions.   They expect you to explain and analyse these concepts from your own point of view, eliciting original ideas and encouraging active interest in the course material.

It can be difficult to know where to begin when writing a critical reflection.  First, know that – like any other academic piece of writing – a reflection requires a narrow focus and strong analysis.  The best approach for identifying a focus and for reflective analysis is interrogation.   The following offers suggestions for your line of inquiry when developing a reflective response.

It is best to discuss your experiences in a work placement or practicum within the context of personal or organizational goals; doing so provides important insights and perspective for your own growth in the profession. For reflective writing, it is important to balance reporting or descriptive writing with critical reflection and analysis.

Consider these questions:

  • Contextualize your reflection:  What are your learning goals? What are the objectives of the organization?  How do these goals fit with the themes or concepts from the course?
  • Provide important information: What is the name of the host organization? What is their mission? Who do they serve? What was your role? What did you do?
  • Analytical Reflection: What did you learn from this experience? About yourself? About working in the field? About society?
  • Lessons from reflection: Did your experience fit with the goals or concepts of the course or organization?  Why or why not? What are your lessons for the future? What was successful? Why? What would you do differently? Why? How will you prepare for a future experience in the field?

Consider the purpose of reflection: to demonstrate your learning in the course.  It is important to actively and directly connect concepts from class to your personal or experiential reflection.  The following example shows how a student’s observations from a classroom can be analysed using a theoretical concept and how the experience can help a student to evaluate this concept.

For Example My observations from the classroom demonstrate that the hierarchical structure of Bloom’s Taxonomy is problematic, a concept also explored by Paul (1993).  The students often combined activities like application and synthesis or analysis and evaluation to build their knowledge and comprehension of unfamiliar concepts.  This challenges my understanding of traditional teaching methods where knowledge is the basis for inquiry.  Perhaps higher-order learning strategies like inquiry and evaluation can also be the basis for knowledge and comprehension, which are classified as lower-order skills in Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Critical reflection requires thoughtful and persistent inquiry.  Although basic questions like “what is the thesis?” and “what is the evidence?” are important to demonstrate your understanding, you need to interrogate your own assumptions and knowledge to deepen your analysis and focus your assessment of the text.

Assess the text(s):

  • What is the main point? How is it developed? Identify the purpose, impact and/or theoretical framework of the text.
  • What ideas stood out to me? Why? Were they new or in opposition to existing scholarship?

Develop your ideas:

  • What do I know about this topic? Where does my existing knowledge come from? What are the observations or experiences that shape my understanding?
  • Do I agree or disagree with this argument?  Why?

Make connections:

  • How does this text reinforce my existing ideas or assumptions? How does this text challenge my existing ideas or assumptions?
  • How does this text help me to better understand this topic or explore this field of study/discipline?

A Note on Mechanics

As with all written assignments or reports, it is important to have a clear focus for your writing.  You do not need to discuss every experience or element of your placement.  Pick a few that you can explore within the context of your learning.  For reflective responses, identify the main arguments or important elements of the text to develop a stronger analysis which integrates relevant ideas from course materials.

Furthermore, your writing must be organized.  Introduce your topic and the point you plan to make about your experience and learning.  Develop your point through body paragraph(s), and conclude your paper by exploring the meaning you derive from your reflection. You may find the questions listed above can help you to develop an outline before you write your paper.

You should maintain a formal tone, but it is acceptable to write in the first person and to use personal pronouns.  Note, however, that it is important that you maintain confidentiality and anonymity of clients, patients or students from work or volunteer placements by using pseudonyms and masking identifying factors. 

The value of reflection: Critical reflection is a meaningful exercise which can require as much time and work as traditional essays and reports because it asks students to be purposeful and engaged participants, readers, and thinkers.

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6 Tips to Writing a Solid Reflection Paper (With a Sample Essay)

Tonya Thompson

A reflection paper is an essay that focuses on your personal thoughts related to an experience, topic, or behavior. It can veer toward educational as a reflection of a book you've read or something you've been studying in class. It can also take a more professional slant as you reflect on a certain profession or your experiences within that profession.

A lot of students enjoy writing this type of essay, especially if they find it easy to discuss their feelings and experiences related to a topic or profession. However, some students find this type of subjective writing to be difficult and would rather a more objective writing assignment.

Whether you're the former or the latter, for this article, we're going to look at 6 tips for writing a solid reflection paper that will help you get through the outlining and writing processes. We've also provided a sample reflection paper so you can see these tips in action.

A reflection paper is an essay that focuses on your personal thoughts related to an experience, topic, or behavior.

Tip #1—Choose a topic you're passionate about

However you choose to focus your reflection paper, if you're able to choose your own topic, choose one that is highly interesting to you or that you find important. You'll find that your paper will be much easier to outline and draft if you do. There are a range of potential topics that have been used or have the potential of turning into a great reflection paper. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Describe your internship experience.
  • Discuss a recent book you read that changed you.
  • What is "family" to you and why?
  • What are some of the qualities demonstrated by your favorite employers and/or managers? What makes them your favorite?
  • Discuss music that has altered your way of thinking or made you see the world from a different perspective.
  • Reflect on your favorite memory of a pet or loved one.

Tip #2—Outline your reflection paper before you write

Be sure to outline your reflection paper first before you start to write. Even though this sort of essay is written as a personal reflection, you'll still need to make sure you stay on topic and organize your writing in a clear, logical way. As with other traditional essays, there should be an introduction with a thesis statement, a body, and a conclusion. Each paragraph within your body should focus on a different sub-topic within the scope of your overall topic.

Tip #3—Write in first-person singular

Write in first-person singular. Format the essay according to your teacher's instructions, using whatever citation style required. Your teacher will likely request that it is double-spaced, with 1" indentation in each margin, in 12 pt. font. Also keep in mind that most reflection papers will be around 750 words or less.

Tip #4—Avoid too much description

Avoiding adding too much description of events. This is not the kind of essay where you need to discuss a play-by-play of everything that happens. Rather, it is the kind of essay that focuses on your reflection of the topic and how you felt during these experiences.

Tip #5—Avoid colloquial expressions or slang

Avoid colloquial expressions or slang—this is still an academic assignment. Also, be sure to edit your essay thoroughly for any grammar or spelling mistakes. Since a reflection paper is written in first-person point of view, it's easy to mistake it for an informal essay and skip the editing. Regardless of the type of essay you submit to your professor, it should always be edited and error-free.

Tip #6—Critical reflection goes deeper

If your assignment asks you to write a critical reflection paper, it is asking for your observations and evaluations regarding an experience. You'll need to provide an in-depth analysis of the subject and your experience with it in an academic context. You might also provide a summary, if the critical reflection paper is about a book or article you've read.

Sample reflection paper

My student teaching experience with the Master's in Education program has been a great learning opportunity. Although I was nervous at first, it didn't take long to apply lessons I have been learning in my academic program to real-world skills such as classroom management, lesson planning, and instruction.

During my first week of student teaching, I was assigned a mentor who had been teaching middle school grades for over 12 years. She assured me that middle school is one of the most difficult grades to teach and that there is a high turnover rate of teachers, which worried me. However, once the week got started and I began to meet the students, my fears abated. These young people were funny, inquisitive, and eager to begin reading the assigned book, Lord of the Flies —especially after we started with a group project scenario that included kids being stranded on an island without adults.

The first few weeks of applying classroom management skills I had read about in my Master's program were a definite learning experience. I had read enough about adolescent development to know that they were not yet at the age where they were able to control all of their impulses, so there were moments when some would yell out an answer or speak without raising their hand first. So, at my mentor's suggestion, I worked with the students to create their own classroom rules that everyone would agree to abide by. Since they played a role in coming up with these rules, I believe it helped them take more personal responsibility in following them.

When we finished that initial group project, I began to see how tasks such as lesson planning—and plans that have to be turned in to the administration weekly—can easily become overwhelming if not worked out on the front-end of the semester. My mentor explained that most seasoned teachers will work on their lesson plans over the summer, using the proper state curriculum, to have them ready with the school year begins. Having scrambled to get my lesson planning done in time during the first few weeks, I saw the value in this and agreed with her that summertime preparation makes the most logical sense. When the school year gets started, it's really a whirlwind of activities, professional development and other events that make it really difficult to find the time to plan lessons.

Once the semester got well underway and I had lesson planning worked out with as little stress as possible, I was able to focus more on instructional time, which I found to be incredibly exciting. I began to see how incorporating multiple learning styles into my lesson, including visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles, helped the students stay more actively engaged in the discussion. They also enjoyed it when I showed them short video clips of the movie versions of the books we were reading, as well as the free-write sessions where they were able to write a scene and perform it with their classmates.

Finally, my student teaching experience taught me that above all else, I have truly found my "calling" in teaching. Every day was something new and there was never a dull moment—not when you're teaching a group of 30 teenagers! This lack of boredom and the things I learned from the students are two of the most positive things for me that resulted from the experience, and I can't wait to have my own classroom in the fall when the school year begins again.

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How to Write a Reflection Paper: A Guide For Students

Here in our step-by-step guide, we take you through how to write a reflection paper.

Reflection papers are a common type of academic paper that help students learn to communicate their thoughts and ideas. Learning to write well is an essential part of honing your communication skills . Being able to express your own opinion on a topic in a structured format that makes your point of view and supporting evidence clear is a useful skill in nearly every career field. However, writing a reflective essay might seem intimidating, especially if you’re new to writing academic papers in general.

Below, we discuss several steps to writing a good reflection paper and answer your most frequently asked questions about reflective writing.

Before Getting Started

Step 2: start brainstorming, step 3: write the outline, step 4: format your reflection paper, step 7: compose the conclusion, tips for writing an outstanding reflection paper.

Before you start, it’s important to understand a reflection essay. A reflection paper is an essay or academic paper that offers a summary of the writer’s personal opinion or thoughts about a particular topic. It’s typically written in the first person and is a type of paper designed to communicate the writer’s opinion.

You can also:

  • Gather the materials you will need to write, such as a pen and paper, your laptop, and any books or other research materials you will be using.
  • Go somewhere quiet where you can work without interruption.
  • Set a time limit and schedule breaks for yourself in between.
  • Set goals for what you would like to finish during your writing session.
  • Make notes of anything left to do when your session is complete and return to it another time.

Step 1: Pick a Point of View 

How to write a reflection paper: Pick a point of view 

First and foremost, you should decide what point of view you want to present to the reader. What do you want the reader to learn from your reflective essay? How do you want them to feel while reading it, and what messages do you want to convey? Jot down your thoughts at this stage without worrying too much about structure or the order of your ideas. This first step aims to get the main points of your argument out so you know what angle you’re taking before you jump into brainstorming your supporting content. You might also be interested in learning how to write a book report .

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a fascinating self-help book packaged as a fantasy story.
  • It’s about a young boy named Santiago who turns from a life of Andalusian shepherding to travelling the world in search of treasure.
  • After finishing the book, I was compelled to look at my own life and what dreams and goals I had, and how I might be able to pursue those.
  • The most valuable lesson I learned was that each person should develop their ideas, goals, and objectives that they can work to pursue throughout their lifetime.
  • The main character finds even more than he is looking for by learning about himself and living genuinely regardless of the cost.
  • Overall, I found the book intriguing and engaging and could extrapolate several helpful ideas I could immediately apply to improve my life.

Begin the brainstorming process by thinking about personal experiences you’ve had that align with your main argument. Then, think about how these experiences and your response to them have impacted how you interpret the topic you’re presenting and why you have arrived at this point of view. This is particularly important if you’re writing an experiential reflection paper based on the opinions and ideas you developed from going through a specific experience or event.

Use the following techniques to brainstorm your reflection paper ideas:

  • Draw Venn diagrams to group and separate ideas.
  • Make bullet point lists of ideas.
  • Create a mind map for different topics.
  • Role play with other people.
  • Think of as many ideas as fast as possible and write them down, no matter what.
  • Write down ideas that start with specific letters of the alphabet.

A good outline will cover the main points of your paper so that the reader can come away with the intended meaning, even if they only scanned or skimmed the outline. Your essay should be written with a solid structure, and your thoughts should transition easily from one to the next. An excellent reflective paper will guide readers along your thought process, gently nudging them from one idea to another as they follow your cognitive journey around the topic.

Your reflection essay should have a clear:

  • Beginning — Set the stage for your readers using descriptive language. Use a topic sentence to convey the main points of your paper immediately and let readers know what they can expect from the rest of the article.
  • Middle — Get into the meat of your ideas by presenting a problem or challenge and how it was resolved. While reflection papers might not have traditional climaxes, you can strategically build your ideas up to a conflict or problem and then to a revelation or epiphany.
  • End — Resolve conflicts and impart lessons learned at the end of your essay to wrap things up. Here is where the reflective part of the paper comes into play as you describe how you’ve gained a better understanding of the events described in the essay.

Your reflection paper format is essential if you write a personal reflection for high school or a thesis statement for college. Not only does formatting make your reflection essay easier to read, but it also ensures the piece meets submission criteria if the paper is for school, work, or publication. Most academic writing follows a predetermined format, and reflective essay writing is no different. Here are some formatting basics for a reflective essay:

  • The page should be double-spaced.
  • The first word in each new paragraph should be indented.
  • Your margins should be 1” on the top, bottom, and sides of the page.
  • The font should be set to Times New Roman 12 pt.
  • The page should be 8 1/2” x 11”.
  • Most reflective essays are between 250 to 750 words.

Step 5: Write Your Introduction

Finally, it’s time to do the bulk of the writing. You don’t need to go in any particular order, and it’s perfectly okay to write the conclusion or body paragraphs before the introduction or even a few sentences. There’s no wrong answer to how the words get from your mind onto the paper or computer screen, but the writing tips below can help you figure out which process you like best.

Your introduction is the first part of your research paper and what readers will engage with first. Your introduction should include the paper’s topic sentence, expressing the main themes you will discuss. They should know what to expect as they read the paper and what benefits they might get from continuing. You might also be wondering how to write a preface .

Throughout my life, I’ve wondered why some people seem to have an easier time than others. No matter what happens, these people seem to bounce back quickly or even might seem unaffected at all. As someone who has always been curious to learn about why other people do, say, or think certain things, this was naturally of great interest to me.

As I began to study various social, behavioural, and psychological textbooks, I realized that there were some common denominators between people who seemed to fare well emotionally, regardless of their circumstances. First and foremost, I noticed that extreme hardships at an early age resulted in less resilience to everyday stressors later in life.

Step 6: Create the Body Paragraphs

Next, write the body of your paper. This should be the largest portion of your paper and longer than the introduction and conclusion combined. The body will usually be at least a few paragraphs long but could be lengthier depending on the total word count of the paper. Be sure that your introduction, body, and conclusion contain smooth transitions from one to the other in a way that guides the reader through the paper. You might also be interested in these articles about assessment .

As I watched the sky where the Twin Towers once stood filled with smoke on the television screen, I remembered a scene from my childhood that I had thought was long forgotten. We were on a family road trip and drove past a car accident on the side of the highway. Someone’s van had collided with the guardrail and burst into flames, and thick, black pillars of smoke poured out of the engine.

Seeing the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 attacks with my eyes was a surreal experience that I’ll never forget. It didn’t matter where people were or what religion they were — people just helped others. Firefighters dug survivors out of the rubble, and nearby shop owners provided first responders with food and water as they worked to clean up what was left of Ground Zero. It’s an event that impacted me profoundly and inspired me to help my fellow neighbors whenever I get the chance.

Finally, wrap up your reflection paper with a solid conclusion summarizing the paper already covered. Don’t use this space to introduce new information — if you still have something to say, it should be included in your body paragraphs. Your conclusion should be succinct and straightforward, providing a great segue from the body of your paper to the end. Write your conclusion in a way that leaves readers thinking about the point of view you were trying to convey or how they might apply the moral of your story to their own lives.

My experience with social media has left a lot to be desired, and I see many young people struggling to navigate public spaces on the internet. I’ve found it challenging to find genuine people or those interested in forming legitimate, long-term friendships or relationships.

As I became increasingly frustrated with my online life, I began investing more time in my real life. I looked for ways to improve my day-to-day routine and make time for things that gave me joy. Over time, I realized that social media brought me more stress and anxiety than it resolved and there just weren’t very many benefits in it for me anymore. I think many young people would find that their lives would be improved by spending less time on social media sites.

There are many ways to write a good reflection paper, depending on your topic and personal preferences. Still, some reflective writing strategies have stood the test of time and come highly recommended by other writers. 

  • Make sure your essay is straightforward and concise. Use shorter sentences to convey the main points of your paper instead of long, convoluted phrases. Include only relevant information in the essay and leave out anything that doesn’t directly support or explain your main point of view.
  • Use an academic tone of voice. Most reflective essays are formal and require an academic or professional tone and style. However, a good trick to use is to match the tone of your writing to your target audience. For example, if your reflective essay is for a children’s show, you may want to use a more casual tone of voice, even though most reflective writing should sound professional.
  • Include credible sources, and make sure to cite them appropriately. Determine whether you should use MLA or APA formatting and follow the guidelines for citing sources you use to support your text. Don’t skip the research phase of reflective writing, even if your essay will be strictly experiential reflection. You should always include at least one to two supporting references.
  • Use tight paragraphs and stay on track. Because most reflective papers are less than 1000 words and may even be shorter than 500 words, it’s important that your writing is concise and that each sentence brings value to the paper. Conversely, padding your essay with fluff writing wastes valuable word space and waters down the overall impact your writing has on your target audience.
  • Proofread your essay thoroughly. Simple mistakes and typos can be detrimental to an otherwise perfect reflective essay. Most teachers will deduct marks for these issues, so be sure to proofread and edit your writing at least once or twice before turning it in.

If you are interested in learning more, check out our essay writing tips !

If you’re still stuck, check out our general resource of essay writing topics .

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How to Write a Reflection Paper? Steps and Examples

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Nowadays, one of the most frequently asked questions at the high school, college, and university levels is how to write a reflection paper. You might be thinking, ‘Is it similar to the fundamental essay writing that students learn at the elementary and junior high school level?’ Yes, it is. However, the senior reflection essay and semester reflection essay are specifically designed for high-level students.

According to the Gibbs reflective cycle, this type of academic writing lets students reflect on their experiences, growth, and learning as they progress through their academic journey.

However, many students often struggle with expressing their thoughts and opinions on a given subject. Therefore, in this particular topic, we will reflect upon the challenges that some of our previous students encountered while writing a reflection paper during their last semester of graduation. The aim is to address each challenge and provide solutions on how to overcome them while adhering to the standard format and structure.

Table :  Changes in Student Grades and Missing Assignments After Implementation of Self Reflection.

Source: Sage Journals

Table of Contents

What is a Final Reflection Essay?

Reflective writing is a form of  academic writing  that helps you learn and grow as a writer, thinker, and person. It explores the writer’s personal opinion or experience, thoughts, and emotions.

And involves introspection and critical analysis of one’s own experience.Reflective writing can be done in many different ways and purposes.

In an academic setting, this type of writing is used in essays, journals, or portfolios where individuals are asked to reflect on their learning experiences or professional development critically.

However, learning how to write a reflection paper is also valuable for personal growth, self-expression, and a deeper understanding of oneself and the world around them.

Challenges of Writing the Senior Reflection Essay

What’s the purpose of writing a essay reflection.

The purpose of writing final reflection essay is to help stimulate self-reflection, introspection, and the unfolding of one’s perceptions and beliefs.

Reflecting writing goes beyond just describing or writing the literature it goes into depth about how an experience influences someone’s thoughts and emotions.

Writing the paper of reflection is itself an opportunity to introspect and assess your experience to bring personal improvements. 

💡 Feel Free to Mold As Per Your Assignment of High School Reflection Essay

There are various types of reflective writing and which form you will adopt is entirely subject to the goals and objectives of your assignment. The professor or mentor can ask you to come up with a particular experience in your life or any special moments of the class while learning how to write a reflection paper.

In addition to this, there may be a case of asking you to  write a paper  on any topic or the ideas that you sometimes discussed with your teacher or fellow.

In a nutshell, whatever the topic and assignment you will work on, just remember these tips. 

  • Be clear about what type of reflective writing you’re doing—you might need to explain what kind of reflection you’re doing at the start of your paper (e.g., personal reflection vs. academic reflection).
  • Define terms—if there are words or concepts that are unfamiliar to readers (or yourself), define them before using them later in the paper so they have

Types of Senior Essay of Reflection and Writing

There are three major types senior reflection essay : personal reflective essays, educational reflections, and professional reflections.

Personal Reflective Writing

Explores the writer’s own experiences, thoughts, and emotions. Personal reflection is often used as a tool for self-improvement or self-exploration. 

Educators often use it to help students reflect on their learning experiences to improve them in the future.

💡 Example for Your Convenience

A student might use personal reflection after reading about the Civil War era to explore what they learned about that period. A teacher could use this type of writing to assess student understanding after reading a chapter in their textbook or participating in an activity during class time.

Educational Reflective Paper 

Educational reflection focuses on learning experiences like courses, assignments, or projects. These papers are typically written by high school or college students reflecting on what they’ve learned during an academic course or class project. 

Teachers can also use educational reflection as part of a course evaluation process by asking students specific questions related to each course component (i.e., classroom activities) and then having them answer those questions using.

Professional Reflective Writing

Professional reflection involves reflecting on work experiences, internships, or professional development activities. 

These papers are typically written by professionals who have been working in their field for some time and are sharing their thoughts about how they learned certain skills or techniques while doing their job. 

How to Write a Reflection Paper with Proper Outline?

When it comes to writing the semester reflection essay, most teachers tend to give “total freedom” to their students. But this sudden abundance of freedom can lead to massive confusion and late submissions. 

Most of the time, teachers leave it entirely to the students to write their reflective papers. But this abrupt abundance of freedom often confuses them. And instead of easing their way into writing, they are left wondering where to start and how to write a reflection paper. 

When engaging in reflective writing, we should adhere to a similar structure as other forms of academic writing, ensuring our content remains within the boundaries of academic discourse.

To combat this issue, the  expert essay writers  have developed an easy prompt that will help you with outlining your paper. So let’s get straight to it. 

Introduction of Final Reflective Essay

The introduction of a final reflection essay is quite similar to introductions in other academic writings. It includes important elements like providing background information, stating the main idea (thesis), and capturing the reader’s attention with a hook or interesting opening.

To make it easier to understand, think of the introduction as the beginning of your paper, where you introduce the topic and grab the reader’s interest. 

You also share some background information to set the stage for what you’ll be reflecting upon. Finally, you present your main idea or argument, which is a roadmap for the rest of your paper. 

So, remember, the introduction is like the opening chapter of your reflective paper. It sets the scene, captures attention, and tells the reader what you’ll discuss.

Body Paragraphs 

Body paragraphs are the muscle of any academic paper because they serve as the supporting framework for your ideas and experiences. You must keep in mind while you learn how to write a reflection paper that the body of a reflective paper provides the key points that contribute to your overall assessment.

  • It helps in describing the experience or the article of writing
  • Your emotional or cognitive response to it
  • Your critical analysis
  • The lesson you might have learned due to the phenomenon you’re writing about
  • Your application and the relevance of your experience

How you tackle your body paragraph of a high school reflection essay can make or break your reflective writing. While writing the main section of your paper, ways to connect all the paragraphs.

You must use transitional words and a topic sentence for each paragraph. The number of paragraphs you’re to write depends on the required  length of the research paper  you are writing about. 

Conclusions are important for almost all academic writing pieces as they allow you to tie all loose ends and reinforce your ideas.

Now, most of you must be thinking, “Do we need to reinforce our opinions on our readers when we are going through how to write a reflection paper?” The answer is “No”; we don’t necessarily need to impose our opinion.

But writing an impacting conclusion of a semester reflection essay that makes your reader consider your opinion on a topic is crucial.

Do Reflective Papers Have Citations? 

There is a common misconception that reflective papers do not require citations, but this belief can be misleading. It is important to remember that while reflective writing allows for personal opinions, it still follows the framework and standards of academic writing.

In academic writing,  citing a paper  is not only appreciated but often required. Therefore, referencing your reflective paper adds to its credibility and reliability.

For example:

A prevalent form of reflective writing among students involves referencing the context of their experiences.

How to Format your Semester Reflection Essay?

When writing a final reflection essay, there is typically no strict format. What matters the most is your comfort and expression. 

It is best to write freely without feeling restricted. However, too much freedom can sometimes confuse people. If a reflection paper is assigned to you, the format will usually depend on the criteria set by your professor.

For college reflection papers, also known as high school reflection essay, the length typically ranges from 500 to 1000 words.

In terms of a common senior reflection essay Format, here are some guidelines to consider when we are discussing how to write a reflection paper:

  • Double-space the entire paper or text,  leaving a blank line between each line  of writing.
  • Indent the  first word of each paragraph , which means starting each new paragraph  slightly inward from the left margin .
  • Use a  one-inch margin  on all sides of the paper.
  • Choose  “Times New Roman” with a 12-point font , which means the letters are medium size.

💡  Remember, these formatting guidelines generated by  ai essay writer  provide a cohesive and organized structure for your reflection paper, making it easier for readers to follow. It ensures that your paper looks neat and professional.

How to Write a Reflection Paper? Tips Based Steps

Now, let’s jump into the final reflection essay part and learn 9 simple yet powerful steps for writing the reflection paper. So, without further ado, let’s get straight into it.

Analyze the Material

  • Play the role of Examiner:  Examine the overall thesis statement and overall content structure.
  • Establish Your Perspective:  After you have done your due diligence, now take a clear stance or position.
  • Formulate Important Questions:  Look for the loopholes and limitations in the content and develop key questions surrounding the main theme.

Make Connections

  • Develop connection:  Find out the ways how you can link your life experience and opinions to the entire content.
  • Connect the Dots:  Organize your thoughts while identifying similar patterns and concepts.
  • Extract Valuable Insights:  Go into the details to reveal the profound interpretation of the connections.

Understand and Summarize

  • Revision and Synthesize:  Highlight the important points and ideas.
  • Formulate the Outline:  Make a proper outline to follow for the entire writing.
  • Differentiate the content:  Adopt the dynamic strategies depending upon the content. 

Select a Theme

  • Define Your Approach:  Pinpoint the crux of your high school reflection essay that sees eye to eye with your experience.
  • Divide the Theme:  Make sections and subsections of your main theme and then do an in-depth exploration of each part to illuminate your reflection.
  • Visualize:  Craft a clear yet simple narrative by using your main theme. 

Brainstorm Ideas and Experiences

  • Let the Ideas Come in:  Make use of the online thesis statement generator  in case you are stuck with some novel ideas concerning your thesis statement.
  • Do Note Taking:  Write down the personal experiences that somehow relate to the content at hand.
  • Evoke Your Motivation:  Take motivation from experience and thoughts to bring creativity and intrigue in your reflection. 

Craft an Introduction

  • Hook the Reader:  Open the sentence with some catchy and attention-grabbing words.
  • Make the Context:  Provide brief background data related to your topic that make a context.
  • Define Your Thesis Statement:  Use simple and clear words to highlight your main points of reflection. 

Write the Body

  • Analyze Key Ideas:  Formulate the crucial part of your reflection paper.
  • Use Examples:  Link relevant examples and stories that are most specific.
  • Navigate the Reader:  Create imagination and walk your readers through your thoughts and experiences.

Conclude Effectively

  • Close with Powerful Thoughts:  Restate your main arguments and ideas to reinforce in the reader’s mind.
  • Signify the Importance:  Use strong words and language to showcase how your experiences and reflections influence your personal development.
  • Leave the Readers with a Strong Impression:  Leave the readers with thought-provoking questions, words, or any statements that mark a lasting impression on their minds.

Proofread and Edit

  • Proofread, Edit, and Improve:  Seek feedback from fellows, proofread, and revise to rectify grammatical and technical mistakes.
  • Remove Redundancy:  Declutter your paper by removing the irrelevant and unnecessary content.
  • Bring Perfection:  After you are finished with proofreading and redundant data, have a bird’s eye view of your content once to bring it to the perfect.

In conclusion, we are sure that our detailed guide on how to write a reflection paper has covered all of your questions. We have discussed all the ins and outs of reflection paper writing such as meaning, types, mind-mapping steps, etc. If you are still finding yourself struggling to come up with your reflective research paper writing service, don’t hesitate to contact us now. We will take care of everything for you!

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  • Acknowledgments

Reflective writing is a process of identifying, questioning, and critically evaluating course-based learning opportunities, integrated with your own observations, experiences, impressions, beliefs, assumptions, or biases, and which describes how this process stimulated new or creative understanding about the content of the course.

A reflective paper describes and explains in an introspective, first person narrative, your reactions and feelings about either a specific element of the class [e.g., a required reading; a film shown in class] or more generally how you experienced learning throughout the course. Reflective writing assignments can be in the form of a single paper, essays, portfolios, journals, diaries, or blogs. In some cases, your professor may include a reflective writing assignment as a way to obtain student feedback that helps improve the course, either in the moment or for when the class is taught again.

How to Write a Reflection Paper . Academic Skills, Trent University; Writing a Reflection Paper . Writing Center, Lewis University; Critical Reflection . Writing and Communication Centre, University of Waterloo; Tsingos-Lucas et al. "Using Reflective Writing as a Predictor of Academic Success in Different Assessment Formats." American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 81 (2017): Article 8.

Benefits of Reflective Writing Assignments

As the term implies, a reflective paper involves looking inward at oneself in contemplating and bringing meaning to the relationship between course content and the acquisition of new knowledge . Educational research [Bolton, 2010; Ryan, 2011; Tsingos-Lucas et al., 2017] demonstrates that assigning reflective writing tasks enhances learning because it challenges students to confront their own assumptions, biases, and belief systems around what is being taught in class and, in so doing, stimulate student’s decisions, actions, attitudes, and understanding about themselves as learners and in relation to having mastery over their learning. Reflection assignments are also an opportunity to write in a first person narrative about elements of the course, such as the required readings, separate from the exegetic and analytical prose of academic research papers.

Reflection writing often serves multiple purposes simultaneously. In no particular order, here are some of reasons why professors assign reflection papers:

  • Enhances learning from previous knowledge and experience in order to improve future decision-making and reasoning in practice . Reflective writing in the applied social sciences enhances decision-making skills and academic performance in ways that can inform professional practice. The act of reflective writing creates self-awareness and understanding of others. This is particularly important in clinical and service-oriented professional settings.
  • Allows students to make sense of classroom content and overall learning experiences in relation to oneself, others, and the conditions that shaped the content and classroom experiences . Reflective writing places you within the course content in ways that can deepen your understanding of the material. Because reflective thinking can help reveal hidden biases, it can help you critically interrogate moments when you do not like or agree with discussions, readings, or other aspects of the course.
  • Increases awareness of one’s cognitive abilities and the evidence for these attributes . Reflective writing can break down personal doubts about yourself as a learner and highlight specific abilities that may have been hidden or suppressed due to prior assumptions about the strength of your academic abilities [e.g., reading comprehension; problem-solving skills]. Reflective writing, therefore, can have a positive affective [i.e., emotional] impact on your sense of self-worth.
  • Applying theoretical knowledge and frameworks to real experiences . Reflective writing can help build a bridge of relevancy between theoretical knowledge and the real world. In so doing, this form of writing can lead to a better understanding of underlying theories and their analytical properties applied to professional practice.
  • Reveals shortcomings that the reader will identify . Evidence suggests that reflective writing can uncover your own shortcomings as a learner, thereby, creating opportunities to anticipate the responses of your professor may have about the quality of your coursework. This can be particularly productive if the reflective paper is written before final submission of an assignment.
  • Helps students identify their tacit [a.k.a., implicit] knowledge and possible gaps in that knowledge . Tacit knowledge refers to ways of knowing rooted in lived experience, insight, and intuition rather than formal, codified, categorical, or explicit knowledge. In so doing, reflective writing can stimulate students to question their beliefs about a research problem or an element of the course content beyond positivist modes of understanding and representation.
  • Encourages students to actively monitor their learning processes over a period of time . On-going reflective writing in journals or blogs, for example, can help you maintain or adapt learning strategies in other contexts. The regular, purposeful act of reflection can facilitate continuous deep thinking about the course content as it evolves and changes throughout the term. This, in turn, can increase your overall confidence as a learner.
  • Relates a student’s personal experience to a wider perspective . Reflection papers can help you see the big picture associated with the content of a course by forcing you to think about the connections between scholarly content and your lived experiences outside of school. It can provide a macro-level understanding of one’s own experiences in relation to the specifics of what is being taught.
  • If reflective writing is shared, students can exchange stories about their learning experiences, thereby, creating an opportunity to reevaluate their original assumptions or perspectives . In most cases, reflective writing is only viewed by your professor in order to ensure candid feedback from students. However, occasionally, reflective writing is shared and openly discussed in class. During these discussions, new or different perspectives and alternative approaches to solving problems can be generated that would otherwise be hidden. Sharing student's reflections can also reveal collective patterns of thought and emotions about a particular element of the course.

Bolton, Gillie. Reflective Practice: Writing and Professional Development . London: Sage, 2010; Chang, Bo. "Reflection in Learning." Online Learning 23 (2019), 95-110; Cavilla, Derek. "The Effects of Student Reflection on Academic Performance and Motivation." Sage Open 7 (July-September 2017): 1–13; Culbert, Patrick. “Better Teaching? You Can Write On It “ Liberal Education (February 2022); McCabe, Gavin and Tobias Thejll-Madsen. The Reflection Toolkit . University of Edinburgh; The Purpose of Reflection . Introductory Composition at Purdue University; Practice-based and Reflective Learning . Study Advice Study Guides, University of Reading; Ryan, Mary. "Improving Reflective Writing in Higher Education: A Social Semiotic Perspective." Teaching in Higher Education 16 (2011): 99-111; Tsingos-Lucas et al. "Using Reflective Writing as a Predictor of Academic Success in Different Assessment Formats." American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 81 (2017): Article 8; What Benefits Might Reflective Writing Have for My Students? Writing Across the Curriculum Clearinghouse; Rykkje, Linda. "The Tacit Care Knowledge in Reflective Writing: A Practical Wisdom." International Practice Development Journal 7 (September 2017): Article 5; Using Reflective Writing to Deepen Student Learning . Center for Writing, University of Minnesota.

How to Approach Writing a Reflection Paper

Thinking About Reflective Thinking

Educational theorists have developed numerous models of reflective thinking that your professor may use to frame a reflective writing assignment. These models can help you systematically interpret your learning experiences, thereby ensuring that you ask the right questions and have a clear understanding of what should be covered. A model can also represent the overall structure of a reflective paper. Each model establishes a different approach to reflection and will require you to think about your writing differently. If you are unclear how to fit your writing within a particular reflective model, seek clarification from your professor. There are generally two types of reflective writing assignments, each approached in slightly different ways.

1.  Reflective Thinking about Course Readings

This type of reflective writing focuses on thoughtfully thinking about the course readings that underpin how most students acquire new knowledge and understanding about the subject of a course. Reflecting on course readings is often assigned in freshmen-level, interdisciplinary courses where the required readings examine topics viewed from multiple perspectives and, as such, provide different ways of analyzing a topic, issue, event, or phenomenon. The purpose of reflective thinking about course readings in the social and behavioral sciences is to elicit your opinions, beliefs, and feelings about the research and its significance. This type of writing can provide an opportunity to break down key assumptions you may have and, in so doing, reveal potential biases in how you interpret the scholarship.

If you are assigned to reflect on course readings, consider the following methods of analysis as prompts that can help you get started :

  • Examine carefully the main introductory elements of the reading, including the purpose of the study, the theoretical framework being used to test assumptions, and the research questions being addressed. Think about what ideas stood out to you. Why did they? Were these ideas new to you or familiar in some way based on your own lived experiences or prior knowledge?
  • Develop your ideas around the readings by asking yourself, what do I know about this topic? Where does my existing knowledge about this topic come from? What are the observations or experiences in my life that influence my understanding of the topic? Do I agree or disagree with the main arguments, recommended course of actions, or conclusions made by the author(s)? Why do I feel this way and what is the basis of these feelings?
  • Make connections between the text and your own beliefs, opinions, or feelings by considering questions like, how do the readings reinforce my existing ideas or assumptions? How the readings challenge these ideas or assumptions? How does this text help me to better understand this topic or research in ways that motivate me to learn more about this area of study?

2.  Reflective Thinking about Course Experiences

This type of reflective writing asks you to critically reflect on locating yourself at the conceptual intersection of theory and practice. The purpose of experiential reflection is to evaluate theories or disciplinary-based analytical models based on your introspective assessment of the relationship between hypothetical thinking and practical reality; it offers a way to consider how your own knowledge and skills fit within professional practice. This type of writing also provides an opportunity to evaluate your decisions and actions, as well as how you managed your subsequent successes and failures, within a specific theoretical framework. As a result, abstract concepts can crystallize and become more relevant to you when considered within your own experiences. This can help you formulate plans for self-improvement as you learn.

If you are assigned to reflect on your experiences, consider the following questions as prompts to help you get started :

  • Contextualize your reflection in relation to the overarching purpose of the course by asking yourself, what did you hope to learn from this course? What were the learning objectives for the course and how did I fit within each of them? How did these goals relate to the main themes or concepts of the course?
  • Analyze how you experienced the course by asking yourself, what did I learn from this experience? What did I learn about myself? About working in this area of research and study? About how the course relates to my place in society? What assumptions about the course were supported or refuted?
  • Think introspectively about the ways you experienced learning during the course by asking yourself, did your learning experiences align with the goals or concepts of the course? Why or why do you not feel this way? What was successful and why do you believe this? What would you do differently and why is this important? How will you prepare for a future experience in this area of study?

NOTE: If you are assigned to write a journal or other type of on-going reflection exercise, a helpful approach is to reflect on your reflections by re-reading what you have already written. In other words, review your previous entries as a way to contextualize your feelings, opinions, or beliefs regarding your overall learning experiences. Over time, this can also help reveal hidden patterns or themes related to how you processed your learning experiences. Consider concluding your reflective journal with a summary of how you felt about your learning experiences at critical junctures throughout the course, then use these to write about how you grew as a student learner and how the act of reflecting helped you gain new understanding about the subject of the course and its content.

ANOTHER NOTE: Regardless of whether you write a reflection paper or a journal, do not focus your writing on the past. The act of reflection is intended to think introspectively about previous learning experiences. However, reflective thinking should document the ways in which you progressed in obtaining new insights and understandings about your growth as a learner that can be carried forward in subsequent coursework or in future professional practice. Your writing should reflect a furtherance of increasing personal autonomy and confidence gained from understanding more about yourself as a learner.

Structure and Writing Style

There are no strict academic rules for writing a reflective paper. Reflective writing may be assigned in any class taught in the social and behavioral sciences and, therefore, requirements for the assignment can vary depending on disciplinary-based models of inquiry and learning. The organization of content can also depend on what your professor wants you to write about or based on the type of reflective model used to frame the writing assignment. Despite these possible variations, below is a basic approach to organizing and writing a good reflective paper, followed by a list of problems to avoid.

Pre-flection

In most cases, it's helpful to begin by thinking about your learning experiences and outline what you want to focus on before you begin to write the paper. This can help you organize your thoughts around what was most important to you and what experiences [good or bad] had the most impact on your learning. As described by the University of Waterloo Writing and Communication Centre, preparing to write a reflective paper involves a process of self-analysis that can help organize your thoughts around significant moments of in-class knowledge discovery.

  • Using a thesis statement as a guide, note what experiences or course content stood out to you , then place these within the context of your observations, reactions, feelings, and opinions. This will help you develop a rough outline of key moments during the course that reflect your growth as a learner. To identify these moments, pose these questions to yourself: What happened? What was my reaction? What were my expectations and how were they different from what transpired? What did I learn?
  • Critically think about your learning experiences and the course content . This will help you develop a deeper, more nuanced understanding about why these moments were significant or relevant to you. Use the ideas you formulated during the first stage of reflecting to help you think through these moments from both an academic and personal perspective. From an academic perspective, contemplate how the experience enhanced your understanding of a concept, theory, or skill. Ask yourself, did the experience confirm my previous understanding or challenge it in some way. As a result, did this highlight strengths or gaps in your current knowledge? From a personal perspective, think introspectively about why these experiences mattered, if previous expectations or assumptions were confirmed or refuted, and if this surprised, confused, or unnerved you in some way.
  • Analyze how these experiences and your reactions to them will shape your future thinking and behavior . Reflection implies looking back, but the most important act of reflective writing is considering how beliefs, assumptions, opinions, and feelings were transformed in ways that better prepare you as a learner in the future. Note how this reflective analysis can lead to actions you will take as a result of your experiences, what you will do differently, and how you will apply what you learned in other courses or in professional practice.

Basic Structure and Writing Style

Reflective Background and Context

The first part of your reflection paper should briefly provide background and context in relation to the content or experiences that stood out to you. Highlight the settings, summarize the key readings, or narrate the experiences in relation to the course objectives. Provide background that sets the stage for your reflection. You do not need to go into great detail, but you should provide enough information for the reader to understand what sources of learning you are writing about [e.g., course readings, field experience, guest lecture, class discussions] and why they were important. This section should end with an explanatory thesis statement that expresses the central ideas of your paper and what you want the readers to know, believe, or understand after they finish reading your paper.

Reflective Interpretation

Drawing from your reflective analysis, this is where you can be personal, critical, and creative in expressing how you felt about the course content and learning experiences and how they influenced or altered your feelings, beliefs, assumptions, or biases about the subject of the course. This section is also where you explore the meaning of these experiences in the context of the course and how you gained an awareness of the connections between these moments and your own prior knowledge.

Guided by your thesis statement, a helpful approach is to interpret your learning throughout the course with a series of specific examples drawn from the course content and your learning experiences. These examples should be arranged in sequential order that illustrate your growth as a learner. Reflecting on each example can be done by: 1)  introducing a theme or moment that was meaningful to you, 2) describing your previous position about the learning moment and what you thought about it, 3) explaining how your perspective was challenged and/or changed and why, and 4) introspectively stating your current or new feelings, opinions, or beliefs about that experience in class.

It is important to include specific examples drawn from the course and placed within the context of your assumptions, thoughts, opinions, and feelings. A reflective narrative without specific examples does not provide an effective way for the reader to understand the relationship between the course content and how you grew as a learner.

Reflective Conclusions

The conclusion of your reflective paper should provide a summary of your thoughts, feelings, or opinions regarding what you learned about yourself as a result of taking the course. Here are several ways you can frame your conclusions based on the examples you interpreted and reflected on what they meant to you. Each example would need to be tied to the basic theme [thesis statement] of your reflective background section.

  • Your reflective conclusions can be described in relation to any expectations you had before taking the class [e.g., “I expected the readings to not be relevant to my own experiences growing up in a rural community, but the research actually helped me see that the challenges of developing my identity as a child of immigrants was not that unusual...”].
  • Your reflective conclusions can explain how what you learned about yourself will change your actions in the future [e.g., “During a discussion in class about the challenges of helping homeless people, I realized that many of these people hate living on the street but lack the ability to see a way out. This made me realize that I wanted to take more classes in psychology...”].
  • Your reflective conclusions can describe major insights you experienced a critical junctures during the course and how these moments enhanced how you see yourself as a student learner [e.g., "The guest speaker from the Head Start program made me realize why I wanted to pursue a career in elementary education..."].
  • Your reflective conclusions can reconfigure or reframe how you will approach professional practice and your understanding of your future career aspirations [e.g.,, "The course changed my perceptions about seeking a career in business finance because it made me realize I want to be more engaged in customer service..."]
  • Your reflective conclusions can explore any learning you derived from the act of reflecting itself [e.g., “Reflecting on the course readings that described how minority students perceive campus activities helped me identify my own biases about the benefits of those activities in acclimating to campus life...”].

NOTE: The length of a reflective paper in the social sciences is usually less than a traditional research paper. However, don’t assume that writing a reflective paper is easier than writing a research paper. A well-conceived critical reflection paper often requires as much time and effort as a research paper because you must purposeful engage in thinking about your learning in ways that you may not be comfortable with or used to. This is particular true while preparing to write because reflective papers are not as structured as a traditional research paper and, therefore, you have to think deliberately about how you want to organize the paper and what elements of the course you want to reflect upon.

ANOTHER NOTE: Do not limit yourself to using only text in reflecting on your learning. If you believe it would be helpful, consider using creative modes of thought or expression such as, illustrations, photographs, or material objects that reflects an experience related to the subject of the course that was important to you [e.g., like a ticket stub to a renowned speaker on campus]. Whatever non-textual element you include, be sure to describe the object's relevance to your personal relationship to the course content.

Problems to Avoid

A reflective paper is not a “mind dump” . Reflective papers document your personal and emotional experiences and, therefore, they do not conform to rigid structures, or schema, to organize information. However, the paper should not be a disjointed, stream-of-consciousness narrative. Reflective papers are still academic pieces of writing that require organized thought, that use academic language and tone , and that apply intellectually-driven critical thinking to the course content and your learning experiences and their significance.

A reflective paper is not a research paper . If you are asked to reflect on a course reading, the reflection will obviously include some description of the research. However, the goal of reflective writing is not to present extraneous ideas to the reader or to "educate" them about the course. The goal is to share a story about your relationship with the learning objectives of the course. Therefore, unlike research papers, you are expected to write from a first person point of view which includes an introspective examination of your own opinions, feelings, and personal assumptions.

A reflection paper is not a book review . Descriptions of the course readings using your own words is not a reflective paper. Reflective writing should focus on how you understood the implications of and were challenged by the course in relation to your own lived experiences or personal assumptions, combined with explanations of how you grew as a student learner based on this internal dialogue. Remember that you are the central object of the paper, not the research materials.

A reflective paper is not an all-inclusive meditation. Do not try to cover everything. The scope of your paper should be well-defined and limited to your specific opinions, feelings, and beliefs about what you determine to be the most significant content of the course and in relation to the learning that took place. Reflections should be detailed enough to covey what you think is important, but your thoughts should be expressed concisely and coherently [as is true for any academic writing assignment].

Critical Reflection . Writing and Communication Centre, University of Waterloo; Critical Reflection: Journals, Opinions, & Reactions . University Writing Center, Texas A&M University; Connor-Greene, Patricia A. “Making Connections: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Journal Writing in Enhancing Student Learning.” Teaching of Psychology 27 (2000): 44-46; Good vs. Bad Reflection Papers , Franklin University; Dyment, Janet E. and Timothy S. O’Connell. "The Quality of Reflection in Student Journals: A Review of Limiting and Enabling Factors." Innovative Higher Education 35 (2010): 233-244: How to Write a Reflection Paper . Academic Skills, Trent University; Amelia TaraJane House. Reflection Paper . Cordia Harrington Center for Excellence, University of Arkansas; Ramlal, Alana, and Désirée S. Augustin. “Engaging Students in Reflective Writing: An Action Research Project.” Educational Action Research 28 (2020): 518-533; Writing a Reflection Paper . Writing Center, Lewis University; McGuire, Lisa, Kathy Lay, and Jon Peters. “Pedagogy of Reflective Writing in Professional Education.” Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (2009): 93-107; Critical Reflection . Writing and Communication Centre, University of Waterloo; How Do I Write Reflectively? Academic Skills Toolkit, University of New South Wales Sydney; Reflective Writing . Skills@Library. University of Leeds; Walling, Anne, Johanna Shapiro, and Terry Ast. “What Makes a Good Reflective Paper?” Family Medicine 45 (2013): 7-12; Williams, Kate, Mary Woolliams, and Jane Spiro. Reflective Writing . 2nd edition. London: Red Globe Press, 2020; Yeh, Hui-Chin, Shih-hsien Yang, Jo Shan Fu, and Yen-Chen Shih. “Developing College Students’ Critical Thinking through Reflective Writing.” Higher Education Research and Development (2022): 1-16.

Writing Tip

Focus on Reflecting, Not on Describing

Minimal time and effort should be spent describing the course content you are asked to reflect upon. The purpose of a reflection assignment is to introspectively contemplate your reactions to and feeling about an element of the course. D eflecting the focus away from your own feelings by concentrating on describing the course content can happen particularly if "talking about yourself" [i.e., reflecting] makes you uncomfortable or it is intimidating. However, the intent of reflective writing is to overcome these inhibitions so as to maximize the benefits of introspectively assessing your learning experiences. Keep in mind that, if it is relevant, your feelings of discomfort could be a part of how you critically reflect on any challenges you had during the course [e.g., you realize this discomfort inhibited your willingness to ask questions during class, it fed into your propensity to procrastinate, or it made it difficult participating in groups].

Writing a Reflection Paper . Writing Center, Lewis University; Reflection Paper . Cordia Harrington Center for Excellence, University of Arkansas.

Another Writing Tip

Helpful Videos about Reflective Writing

These two short videos succinctly describe how to approach a reflective writing assignment. They are produced by the Academic Skills department at the University of Melbourne and the Skills Team of the University of Hull, respectively.

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How to Write a Reflection Paper: Example & Tips

Want to know how to write a reflection paper for college or school? To do that, you need to connect your personal experiences with theoretical knowledge. Usually, students are asked to reflect on a documentary, a text, or their experience. Sometimes one needs to write a paper about a lesson or a movie.

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This assignment tests your critical thinking rather than your summarizing skills.

Struggling with a reflection paper? This article by our custom-writing experts will help you ace this task. Here you’ll find:

  • A guide on how to write a reflection paper;
  • Outlining and formatting tips;
  • Reflection paper example & a template.

🤔 What Is a Reflection Paper?

  • ✅ Reflection Paper Types
  • ✍️ Step-by-Step Guide
  • 📃 Examples & Formatting Tips

A reflection essay is a type of academic assignment in which you connect theories learned in class with your personal experience and knowledge. Additionally, you analyze your feelings and attitudes towards the subject. It helps you understand how to put theory into practice. 

The picture shows the definition of a reflection paper: a description, analysis, and evaluation of an experience.

For this assignment, the ability to use reflective thinking is vital. What does it mean? It means that you should be able to look back at and analyze:

  • what you did;
  • how and why you did it;
  • how it made you feel ;
  • what you could have done differently .

Consequently, your reflection essay should include the following components: 

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So, let’s make clear what a reflection paper is and what it’s not. Have a look at this comparison:

When it comes to topics, a reflexive paper may be about many things, such as:

  • an analysis of your work;
  • your impressions from attending a class or a speech;
  • an experience that has influenced your worldview;
  • a solution to a problem;
  • the steps to improve your academic progress.

Once you have a topic idea, the next step is to prepare for writing.

✅ How to Write a Reflection Paper: Tips for Various Types

Before your start working on your essay, let’s find out what exactly you should deal with. There are several different types of reflexive essays. Make sure to choose the one that suits you best.

We have prepared three classifications, depending on when, how, and what you will reflect.

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Depending on time, reflection papers can be:

  • Reflection-in-action. You study your actions under certain circumstances. Usually, it’s a patient-therapist interaction. In this case, you observe, feel, and analyze the situation you are engaged in.
  • Reflection-on-action. You study your actions after the situation has already occurred. It’s crucial to use your critical thinking here as well. 

Depending on the manner, reflexive essays can be:

  • Experimental. You make connections between theory and practice by conducting an experiment. It’s suitable for sociology, education, business, psychology, forensics, and nursing.
  • Reading. You connect the ideas from the texts and your interpretations to show your comprehension. 

Depending on the content, reflective writing can be:

  • a journal (to reflect on your learning in the course)
  • a learning diary (to evaluate group work)
  • a logbook (to reflect on your experiments, analyze past actions, and plan future ones)
  • a reflective note (to express your attitudes towards an issue)
  • an essay diary (to write an annotated bibliography, to analyze and critique the sources)
  • a peer review (to present your feedback on other students’ work or teamwork)
  • a self-reflection essay (to examine and comment on your working process).

Personal Reflection Paper: Writing Tips

In a personal reflection paper, you need to present your attitudes, emotions, feelings, and experiences. How do you do it? 

Here is the answer:

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  • Think about an experience that evokes particular emotions.
  • Describe what happened: mention the participants and their actions.
  • Demonstrate your emotions and feelings. It’s important to show them rather than just tell. The trick is to make the reader feel the same. You can do it by using imagery and various descriptive techniques.
  • Analyze your experiences and make connections with your present-day life. You can relate them to your study material or relevant theories and concepts.
  • Conclude with your plans. Tell the readers how you’re going to implement this knowledge. 

These reflective writing examples should give you an idea of what your writing should be like and what to avoid. First, let’s have a look at a poor example :

I wanted to become a painter. I liked to paint very much. Once I saw a painting of Claude Monet and decided to become like him. I bought paints and a canvas. My first work was not very good, but I didn’t give up. My future pictures were much better.

As you can see, it’s not very informative. There’s no analysis of an experience, and connections are not made. It also lacks interesting descriptions.

Now, check out this good example :

Critical Reflection Paper: Writing Tips

In a critical reflection essay, you assess how theories can be applied in practice, examine causes and consequences, and find solutions to problems. It’s all about evaluating and changing your attitude towards an issue rather than summarizing events and details.

The critical reflection process consists of two stages:

  • Analysis . Ask critical questions to find the core of the issue and your role in it. 
  • Articulation . Organize your ideas into a structured essay.

How exactly can you make an analysis?

Have a look at the following three-stage model. All you should do is answer the following questions:

  • What? During the first stage, you describe the details of the issue.
  • So what? The second stage requires you to relate your theoretical knowledge to the situation you discuss. The way you do it depends on the questions you are going to ask yourself while writing. There are three major perspectives to choose from:
  • Now what? At this stage, you think about the future outcomes. Ponder on how this situation will shape your further experiences. 

As soon as the analysis stage is over, you’re ready to relate your thoughts and ideas in written form.

How to Write a Reflection Paper on a Book

Now, let’s see what strategies can help you write an excellent reflective essay on a book. First of all, remember that this assignment is not about summarizing the plot. It’s about analyzing and connecting the ideas presented in the text with your knowledge. 

To write a perfect reflective paper on a book, take the following steps:

  • Analyze the text. Explore the ideas, purpose, and theoretical framework of the book. State its main point clearly and concisely. Then, discuss the information that interested you the most. Mention what emotions it evoked, and say whether the ideas in the book are new to you. 
  • Expand on your ideas. Describe how this information shapes your understanding of the subject. Also, state whether you agree with the author’s arguments. 
  • Establish connections. Show how the book helped to broaden your knowledge. Mention whether it had challenged your assumptions.

The following sample will help you see how you can structure your ideas:

How to Write a Reflection Paper on an Article

Usually, a reflection paper on an article is concerned with critiquing a written text or a speech. These strategies will help you write it:

  • Focus on your attitudes and feelings towards the article. You may mention your expectations and whether they were met.

I believed this book would help me understand the difference between traditional and radical forgiveness. I thought these two types had a lot in common. However, it turned out they are entirely different.

  • Refer to the passages that interested you the most: quote directly, paraphrase , or summarize them.
  • Include your subjective opinion: it’s important not to overdo it.
  • Combine formal and informal vocabulary to make your writing more expressive.

✍️ How to Write a Reflection Paper: Step-by-Step Guide

Want to know what exactly you should do to get an excellent reflexive essay? Read the following tips. They will help you write any type of reflection essay .

Reflection Paper Writing: Before You Start

Let’s start with some pre-writing strategies. Here are the main steps:

Step 1: Brainstorm ideas . Identify your central theme and write a summary of essential points.

Main theme:  Psychological reasons for eating a lot of sweets

  • Usually, I eat sweets when I’m sad or upset.
  • I have read that people who lack love and positive emotions and feelings try to substitute it with food.
  • Watching a documentary has evoked my interest in this topic.
  • My attitude towards sweets has changed after research.

Step 2: Analyze your ideas. Then, connect your experiences with theoretical knowledge.

The following list of questions will help you navigate your response.

Step 3: Organize your reflection essay . This list will make it clear what the writer does and doesn’t do in a reflective essay. Keep it in mind while planning what to include in your paper.

Here’s a bonus tip: to structure your reflection process, use the 4Rs model :

  • Report on the topic and its relation to the course.
  • Relate it with your personal experiences.
  • Reason out connections between your practical and theoretical knowledge.
  • Reconstruct the initial idea to make a conclusion.

Reflection Paper Template: What to Include

Now, let’s have a look at your essay’s structure. Your paper should consist of an introduction, main body, and conclusion:

The picture shows a template for a reflection paper with the main elements included in introduction, main body, and conclusion.

Want to know how to write each part? Keep reading!

Reflection Paper Outline: How to Start

The introductory part of your essay should be catchy, informative, and well-organized. How can you do it? Follow these strategies:

  • It should be specific: try not to include general and well-known information.
  • Make this sentence catchy. This will get your readers interested in the rest of your paper.
  • major facts or details related to the situation or issue;
  • general themes covered in the text, interview, or video under analysis;
  • aspects of teamwork or an individual assignment;
  • your biases, expectations, and possible challenges.
  • cover observations or conclusions made by you;
  • reveal a clear position on an issue;
  • include a plan on how to defend your opinions throughout the paper.

Don’t forget to reread your introduction each time before writing a new body paragraph. Make sure that all of them match the ideas covered in your introductory part and thesis statement.

Reflection Paper Outline: Body Paragraphs

So, what’s the next part? After you’ve presented your ideas in the introduction, you expand on them in the body paragraphs. The main point here is to cover one idea per paragraph and provide necessary supporting evidence. That’s why it is better to have no more than 3 body paragraphs.

Here’s what to include in this essay part:

Reflection Paper Outline: Conclusion

Finally, any academic paper needs a conclusion. Don’t know how to write it? Check out the following helpful tips:

📃 Reflection Paper Examples & Formatting Tips

The moment when you stop writing your essay is really amazing. But then comes the final part: you need to format your paper appropriately. Don’t know how to do it? Look no further: we have prepared some formatting tips for you.

You only need to know which citation style to use. APA and MLA are the most popular citation styles. That’s why we have gathered the most helpful information on them. Check it out!

APA Reflection Paper Formatting

American Psychological Association (APA) format is mostly used in sciences, psychology, and education. Consider the following tips if you need to write an APA reflection essay.

Below you’ll find a downloadable reflection paper example in APA format.

Reflection Papers Format: MLA

Modern Language Association (MLA) formatting is widespread in the humanities. Do you need to write an MLA reflexive essay? Have a look at some essential formatting tips about this citation style below.

If you want to know more about MLA formatting, check out this free reflection essay sample. You can download the full version below.

Reflection Paper Example

The COVID-19 pandemic raised the need for educational means that will not potentially endanger the students’ health. As a result, the need for online classes sharply rose worldwide. However, it is difficult to conclude whether such practices have been successful so far, especially in regions that are considered least developed. According to my personal observations, online classes may represent a negative educational experience that will hinder its primary role as the means of passing on the knowledge.

Make sure to check out these reflection paper samples to get more ideas for your essay.

  • Personal Philosophy of Nursing Reflection Paper
  • Application of Research in Social Sciences Reflection Paper
  • Ibsen’s A Doll’s House: Reflection Paper
  • Reflections on Aging
  • Reflection on the Book of Psalms
  • Epidemiology Course Topics Reflection
  • Personal Nursing Practice Reflection
  • Relational Practice: Reflections on Family Nursing
  • Reflection on “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein
  • Martin Luther King Speech Reflection

Reflection Paper Topics

  • Personal response to Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr. 
  • Reflection on importance of leadership in healthcare .  
  • Globalization of Missions by Kgatle: personal reflections.  
  • Personal reflection on social work policy and its values.  
  • Racism as an example of social injustice : reflection paper.  
  • Reflection on the immigration policy based on Paul Vitello’s article Kiss me, I’m Illegal . 
  • Personal response to William Shakespeare ’s quotation, “For there is nothing either good or bad, thinking makes it so.” 
  • Reflection and evaluation of Gilman’s short story The Yellow Wallpaper . 
  • Importance of realization the policy of diversity: reflection paper. 
  • Analyze your personal response to the sports industry cowboysization. 
  • What, in your opinion, is leadership and professionalism?  
  • Reflect on the significance of the International Women’s Day celebration.  
  • Analyze the survey on nursing ethics and give your evaluation of its results.  
  • Personal reflection on French Revolution and value of liberty. 
  • Values and beliefs of nursing as a multifaceted healthcare area: personal evaluation. 
  • Brief analysis and personal evaluation of Christianity framework .  
  • Reflection on your personal nursing philosophy and beliefs. 
  • How does media affect friendship ?  
  • Reflections on the portrayal of family in Homer’s Odyssey . 
  • Personal evaluation of Gary Smalley’s Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships .  
  • Reflect on the historical and literary significance of Chronicles of the Indies . 
  • What does the leadership skills mean: reflection paper. 
  • Reflection on John Hume’s Nobel Prize speech and lecture about reaching agreement. 
  • Personal response to Soderbergh’s film Contagion .   
  • Reflect on visiting the website Virtual American Revolution, Boston and its role in teaching history. 
  • Describe your impressions of The Love Suicides at Amijima by Chikamatsu Monzameon. 
  • Reflect on the meaning of art using the installation My Bed by Emin as an example.  
  • Analyze your thoughts and feelings evoked by Epic of Gilgamesh .  
  • Is photography a true art?  
  • Does the idea presented in a series of stories The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien correlate with your personal beliefs?   
  • Bachelor of Science in social work : reflection paper. 
  • Discuss the problems reflected in the documentary Autism: Insight From Inside . 
  • Present your reflections on the single-parent families .  
  • How do you understand ethics ?  
  • Consider the crucial points of Cheleyem : An Experimental of Mapuche Film Program.   
  • The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic : personal reflections.    
  • Present personal evaluation of the film Mi Familia directed by Gregory Nava. 
  • Bill of Rights : reflective essay. 
  • Describe the impression of the film Rampant: How a City Stopped a Plague by Victoria Midwinter-Pitt.  
  • Evaluate staging of Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.    

We hope that this article on a reflection paper has made things clear for you. In a nutshell, here are the main steps:

  • analyze the situation;
  • reflect on your feelings and experiences;
  • connect them to your theoretical knowledge.

We wish you the best of luck with your assignments. Don’t hesitate to share this article with your friends!

Further reading:

  • How to Write a Lab Report: Format, Tips, & Example
  • What Is a Master’s Thesis & How to Write It: Best Tips
  • Literature Review Outline: Examples, Approaches, & Templates
  • How to Write an Annotated Bibliography: Tips, Format, & Samples
  • 10 Research Paper Hacks: Tips for Writing a Research Paper

❓ Frequently Asked Questions

A reflection is a combination of critical thinking and learning. It’s a way of responding to one’s experiences, issues, and acquired knowledge. There’s no right or wrong in reflection writing, as every person reacts uniquely.

It’s better to discuss the essay’s length with your instructor. However, if there are no specific instructions regarding word count, your reflective essay should contain between 300- 500 words (approximately 1-2 pages.)

To write an effective reflexive essay about a lesson, you need to:

1. describe the lesson’s contents; 2. express your ideas and feelings related to the class; 3. mention what you’ve learned and how it affected you.

To write a reflection paper on a movie, follow the template below:

1. reflect on your emotions before, during, and after watching the film; 2. analyze your observations; 3. draw connections with the information learned in class.

🔍 References

  • Reflective Writing: UNSW Sydney
  • Models of Reflection: LibGuides at La Trobe University
  • Reflective Writing: Deakin University
  • The Reflection Paper: University of Toronto
  • Reflection Papers: Cleveland State University
  • The 4Rs Model of Reflective Thinking: Queensland University of Technology
  • Keys to Writing a Reflection Paper: Seattle PI
  • How to Write a Reflection Paper: Trent University
  • Reflection Template: University of South Florida
  • Critical Reflection: University of Waterloo
  • Critical Reflection: Texas A&M University
  • A Short Guide to Reflective Writing: University of Birmingham
  • The Structure of Reflective Writing: Monash University
  • General Format: APA Style: Purdue University
  • Using MLA Format: MLA Style Format
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Hi custom-writing.org admin, You always provide practical solutions and recommendations.

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Thanks for the feedback, Julian! Much appreciated.

This information on reflective writing has been very helpful. Thank you so much. Linda Grayson Trevecca Nazarene University Nashville, TN

Thanks for the feedback, Linda! Much appreciated.

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  • How to Write a Reflection Paper
  • How to Write a Reflection Paper: Create an Effective Essay

How to Write a Reflection Paper: Create an Effective Essay

How to Write a Reflection Paper: Be Yourself

How to start, how to write a reflection paper on an interview, how to write a reflection paper on a book.

Do you know that something simple as sharing your impressions on movie or event can have tremendous benefits on your future essay? It sounds a little bit weird; we will explain everything precisely. If you need to create reflection essay, this article might be most helpful for you to read because it will convince you that there is nothing complicated with your assignment. It works like if you have a friendly conversation with your mates, talking about the last film you’ve watched. Just share your impression on plot or acting; it is strange, but this is exactly the way of how to write a reflective essay! We‘ve gathered all things students must explore to succeed in a study. If you need automated solution for writing, use EssayToolBox  

What do you know about this type of essays; how does it differ from other academic tasks like summary and research writing? It is a particular piece with personal insight where the writer presents his thoughts and observations. Do not hide behind ideas of well-known persons; let your reader know your personal thoughts. Tell other people about your unique experience and be honest to show the readers what you really feel; they want to understand your personality; it is the best way of how to write a reflective essay .

  • Topic: A teacher commonly chooses one topic on a similar subject for all students . You need to reflect on general topics like the best life experiences. Show your feelings to make a personal statement.
  • Outline: This starting stage in the process of creating an essay is like a roadmap that will lead you through the piece from the first line until the endpoint. Develop a simple plan of what you are going to tell your readers; make sure it has a logical structure and cover all aspects of your studying topic. Follow your plan after begin your writing.
  • Introduction: How to write a reflective paper? Original impression is crucial. Create breathtaking introductory paragraph. Use grab-attention hooks to describe your topic generally, outline thesis and give the brief sum up of your essay.

If you develop a piece based on an interview, it may involve developing essay differently than any other writing pieces. Typically, you will summarize all information received during interviewing process. Here are basic steps to follow:

  • Choose your topic: Conduct preliminary research , learn who your interviewer is.
  • Take some time to research proper interview questions on the chosen topic. Create an outline to make good notes that will help you maintain certain focus in conversation.
  • Conduct the interview, make records and take notes.
  • Organize specific data and find the way to present it. You may open the first paragraph with positive information while the least important details and negative information put in writing in following sections.
  • Determine the logical order of your presentation. Keep in mind 5-paragraph form. It includes elaborating an intriguing introduction, the body with a detailed description, and a strong conclusion. While you are thinking about how to write a reflection paper on an interview, keep in mind effective final chord.

The task is simple: using your own voice , tell your readers what you think about some novel, story, different articles you have read. Many interdisciplinary courses ask students to submit a reading reflection essay. It stimulates balanced assessments. The instructors want to learn now your opinion and assumptions about the key ideas presented in the book. Explaining your suggestions and interpretations, you help them to understand how this piece has affected you. If you ask how to write a reflection paper on a book, try to answer several questions. Here we provide you with some helpful examples:

  • What is the key idea of the book;
  • Do you disagree with the author’s statement; what do you think about the writer;
  • What is your impression after reading and how does the book affect you;
  • Does it implicate a deeper understanding the subject?
The more answers you have, the better work you get; organize the data and create a bright essay!

We believe this article has brought you relieve, and now you realize that there is nothing to worry about: no need to analyze and summarize. Writing reflection paper is the easiest assignment you will ever meet during the course; you just have to express yourself, let your instructor see your outstanding personality. Share your unique experience and demonstrate the extraordinary way of thinking. If you don’t have enough time to create comprehensive academic paper, you may write us your request and receive excellent writing piece in the shortest terms. Get your points and have good luck in discovering the world of knowledge.

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High On Films

How to Write a Reflection Paper on a Movie

Students have to write a great variety of academic papers. They have various purposes, and it makes them unique. A certain piece may become your favorite assignment of the worst nightmare. Some students struggle with writing a reflection paper on a movie. It demands to clearly explain the main purpose and the general atmosphere of a certain piece of cinematography. You should focus on a certain motif that has provoked certain feelings and emotions in you. The task is surely interesting.

In the meanwhile, students may not be able to clearly reflect their thoughts on paper. Even if they understand everything, they struggle, and it inevitably leads to a loss of vital grades. Some folks request professional help from custom writing websites whose experts may write papers for you . For sure, you will need to find and pay someone online. However, you should not consider this solution as the common way out. It can be used when you don’t have any other possibility to handle this and other academic tasks. Therefore, we propose to read this informative guide attentively. It describes how to write a flawless reflection paper on a movie.

Treat It as a Literature Piece

You have surely written multiple reflection papers on books, literary analyses, book reports, and reviews. They are quite similar to a reflection paper on a movie. You should reconsider everything you have seen on the screen. However, a reflection project differs a bit. You should not retell the entire plot. The main task is to choose one theme and stick to it.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

For example, you have chosen to reflect Joan Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The movie involves various themes, and the theme of love is one of them. You can choose it as your topic. The theme of love is regularly met in most literature pieces and movies. It is “eternal,” and people always discuss how and why it appears, as well as what does it mean. According to the movie, the love of Harry’s mother had rescued his life when he was only 1 year old. It has destroyed the body of an evil wizard called Voldemort. As Harry turned 11, he faced the wizard once again, and though his mother died, her love rescued him again. The evil wizard felt no love at all, and it was his greatest weakness that did not allow him to prevail. You can reflect on the feelings and emotions you felt when the theme of love appeared in the movie.

Of course, you ought to watch the movie at least once. It’s good if you are allowed to choose what movie to describe. You may choose any well-known piece because you know everything about it. In case you are assigned a movie, you should find time to watch it.

It’s not easy to comprehend everything from a single review. If you have additional time, watch it at least twice. Focus on a concrete topic and develop it in your reflection paper.

Take Notes Instantly

A smart student always takes instant notes on the matter. Not all students have a good memory , and even the best of us may forget about something vital. The outcomes may be adverse, and the lacking element may deprive you of many grades. Therefore, take notes while you watch the movie.

Sometimes it is very hard to remember what feelings you experienced during the review. Their brightness withers away, and your reflection may lack reality and fullness. If you record them instantly, you will avoid this problem

Writing Papers

Gather All the Possible Facts on the Topic

It’s vital to do some research. This common rule is applied to any scientifically-based project. However, a movie reflection paper is not a reflection of the entire story. Some unknown facts may shed more light on the motif you have chosen. Give heed to –

The cast; Historic events; Locations; Characters of the main heroes; Critics, etc.

Perhaps one actor refused to play the role, and his substitute wasn’t convincing. Thus, you may write: “If Anthony Hopkins played this role, the movie would have been much better because he perfectly shows empathy.” You may also write something like this: “Due to the historical period the movie involved, I’m not convinced that the motif of racial equality suits the plot.”

Do Not Repeat the Story

Many students repeat the same error – they retell the whole movie plot. We remind once again – a reflection paper on a movie focuses on a certain theme and does not retell the plot entirely. You can mention the scenes that are closely related to the chosen issue. You should not –

Retell the plot from the beginning to the end;

Pay attention to costume design;

Dwell upon music supervision;

Mention the lighting, visual support, etc.

Remember that you should avoid critique of the entire piece.

Have a Plan and Follow the Structure

It’s logical and effective to create an outline of your project. It makes you disciplined and organizes the whole process of writing.

The typical outline includes:

Introduction . The part where you familiarize your reader with the movie and explain why you have chosen a certain theme.

Main body. It develops the thesis statement, provides concrete examples from the movie, and justifies your choice.

Conclusion . Summarizes the job done and interprets the outcomes.

Additional tip: Set strict deadlines to control your time.

Edit and Proofread

The last stage of your reflection paper on a movie is to revise it several times. Thus, you increase the chance to avoid unwanted mistakes. A revision stage helps to check:

Grammar; Spelling; Punctuation; Style; Word choice; Plot development; Clearness of delivery; Readability, etc.

Keep in mind the tips and tricks we have mentioned in our informative guide on writing a reflection paper . They are universal and will surely suit whatever movie you need to reflect. Use them wisely, and you will sufficiently increase your chances to enjoy success and get an A+ grade.

Author : Sergey

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Reflection papers.

Professors assign reflection papers so they can see how much you move from point A to point B.  Here are some scenarios:

  • your class readings challenged you to think (or feel) a different way
  • your training asked you to perform a task in a particular manner
  • you watched a film and were asked to reflect on it.

A reflection paper, from a writing standpoint, can be a challenge. In this handout, I’d like to show you some of the ways to do well on it.

Balance Story and Judgments A famous writer, Russell Baker, once wrote that great narratives move between the story and evaluation:  that means that a writer tells something and then judges.  Often students will just tell the story without putting in a judgment.  The book There Are No Shortcuts by Rafe Esquith is an excellent example.  He tells his story as an inner-city teacher and judges his own actions constantly—he shines a light on his own errors.  For instance, in one chapter, he writes about several honors students he had who treated him badly:  one kind student filled him in on their real character, and from that moment on, he realized that intelligence alone would never matter to him again.  That is an example of balancing the story and the judgment.

Discerning What to Reveal about Yourself Rebecca McClanahan, a creative non-fiction teacher and writer, said that if you were uncomfortable yourself about some issue, then it was not wise to reveal it to others.  Some cultures don’t favor revealing anything, which can make writing a reflection paper difficult.  You do have the choice not to reveal things about yourself.  In that case, write about the issue itself and the concern you have professionally for the people or implications for workplace effectiveness. 

Gender Issues In American culture, men are trained not to reveal their emotions because it is a way of being vulnerable.  Many male students can lose points on this assignment because they don’t write enough.  If length is an issue, pull back and consider the larger societal issues or an academic issue.  For instance, if in a physical therapy class you learn how to treat patients with disabilities and then spend the day in a wheelchair and have to reflect on it, you could speculate what it would be like to be there all the time—in other words, give compassion toward others instead of worrying about writing about yourself.  You could also reflect on the difference between your readings for the class and the experience you had—whether the readings need to be modified. 

Time to Reflect Many students work several jobs, have families, and a variety of classes, which means reflection time can be fragmented or slight.  A faster way to approach this task is to go toward what is uncomfortable (both positive and negative) and make quick notes.  That discomfort might reveal something positive (a new idea, some ability you didn’t know you had), or it might reveal that you were not good at something or had an idea that was harmful to yourself or someone else. 

Suggested Planning Activities The text box below shows you a fast way to plan your paper.  As you read something in class, watch a film, or participate in professional training experiences, you can keep notes on these three things.  Remember that college-level work seeks to challenge your thinking. 

To structure your paper, consider some of the ideas below:

  • Begin with the most important facet of the challenging reading/activity/film and how you moved from point A to point B
  • Make a focus or thesis of this movement (for example, “From this film, I learned how important it is for instructors to. . . .”)
  • Explain that movement using stories with examples
  • Weave in the readings or professional materials from your class (don’t leave these out)
  • Respond in a professional manner—respectful of others in the readings, the experience, the film
  • Talk to the professor or a Writing Center tutor if you experience a huge conflict in what you are writing about

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write a reflection paper on what you have watched

Don't have glasses to watch today's solar eclipse? Here are 7 safe alternatives.

T he 2024 solar eclipse has finally arrived! This afternoon, millions will have their eyes on the sky to witness the celestial event.

Many locations giving away or selling solar eclipse glasses are out of stock, so you may not find a pair within the next few hours.

People are also reading: Where to buy solar eclipse glasses, according to the experts

Don't panic though − there are alternative forms of eye protection you can use instead.

Watching the light pass through tree leaves. Peering into a modified cereal box. Angling a kitchen colander. You can view the solar eclipse using these safe, alternative methods and more.

Live updates: Everything you need to know for today’s solar eclipse

Tree leaves project mini solar eclipses

A fun way to view the eclipse is by watching the light pass through tree leaves. Sunlight will project mini eclipses onto the ground as the light passes through gaps in the leaves.

You will be able to track the progress of the eclipse from start to finish, and see a cool natural effect.

Use a colander to show the solar eclipse

Similar to leaves, you can use a colander to project mini eclipses. The light will pass through the small holes in a colander to create a dazzling sight of tiny eclipses on the ground or on a canvas.

Senior lecturer and astronomy coordinator at UT Sean Lindsay likes this method as it's a more direct and safe way of showing the progress of an eclipse.

More: What time is the total solar eclipse on April 8? Search your ZIP code for a viewing guide

Create a pinhole projector to see the solar eclipse

With a  pinhole projector , sunlight travels through the pinhole to create a small image of the sun. The projector makes it safe to observe the solar eclipse if you don't have eclipse glasses.

All you need to do is take a piece of cardboard, cut an inch square in the middle, tape foil over the square and poke a small hole in the foil. Afterwards, angle the cardboard so the light travels through the hole and onto another piece of cardboard to show an image of the sun.

Warby Parker provided a guide on how to  DIY your own pinhole projector , or check out  NASA's video tutorial .

How to turn a box into a pinhole projector to view the eclipse

Another way to make a pinhole projector includes a box, tape, scissors, foil and paper.

Find a cardboard box you can comfortably place over your head. Cut a square hole on one end of the box and tape the foil over it. Poke a small hole in the foil. On the opposite side, tape a piece of paper inside the box.

Once its ready, turn your back to the sun and place the box over your head. Angle the box so the light goes through the hole and projects onto the paper. Now you can see the eclipse.

Watch: Can't watch Monday's total solar eclipse in-person? Watch our livestream here.

Convert a cereal box into a solar eclipse viewer

You can also make a pinhole projector using a cereal box.  NASA provides instructions  on how to craft one.

Empty the contents of the box and place a white piece of paper or cardboard at the bottom. Cut both ends of the top leaving just the center flaps. Tape the center to keep it closed. Cover one of the openings with foil and poke a small hole into the foil, but leave the other side open.

Once the cereal box is ready, you will need to turn away from the sun, angle the box so sunlight goes through the hole and peer into the box from the opening. The light will project an image of the sun onto the bottom of the box.

Turn a shoebox into a solar eclipse viewer

The cereal box method  works with shoeboxes , too.

Cut a small hole on one end of the shoebox and tape foil over it. Poke a small hole in the foil. Tape a small piece of paper inside the shoebox on the other end.

You can cut a hole to look into either on the foil side or on the long side of the shoebox near the paper for a closer view. When it's ready, close the shoebox and angle it so the sunlight passes through the pinhole, down the length of the shoebox and onto the paper. It will project an image of the sun inside.

Use your hands to view the solar eclipse

Take both hands and  overlap your fingers  with one hand vertical and the other horizontal. Your fingers should cross over each other and form square gaps.

Now, angle your hands so sunlight hits them. Sunlight will pass through the gaps like pinholes, projecting mini eclipses onto the ground or a canvas.

Are you in the path of totality?

Can't see our graphics? Search your ZIP code for a complete eclipse viewing guide

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Don't have glasses to watch today's solar eclipse? Here are 7 safe alternatives.

A model of oversized solar eclipse glasses located at a park in Dripping Springs, Texas on Monday, March 18, 2024.

  • Solar Eclipse 2024

What the World Has Learned From Past Eclipses

C louds scudded over the small volcanic island of Principe, off the western coast of Africa, on the afternoon of May 29, 1919. Arthur Eddington, director of the Cambridge Observatory in the U.K., waited for the Sun to emerge. The remains of a morning thunderstorm could ruin everything.

The island was about to experience the rare and overwhelming sight of a total solar eclipse. For six minutes, the longest eclipse since 1416, the Moon would completely block the face of the Sun, pulling a curtain of darkness over a thin stripe of Earth. Eddington traveled into the eclipse path to try and prove one of the most consequential ideas of his age: Albert Einstein’s new theory of general relativity.

Eddington, a physicist, was one of the few people at the time who understood the theory, which Einstein proposed in 1915. But many other scientists were stymied by the bizarre idea that gravity is not a mutual attraction, but a warping of spacetime. Light itself would be subject to this warping, too. So an eclipse would be the best way to prove whether the theory was true, because with the Sun’s light blocked by the Moon, astronomers would be able to see whether the Sun’s gravity bent the light of distant stars behind it.

Two teams of astronomers boarded ships steaming from Liverpool, England, in March 1919 to watch the eclipse and take the measure of the stars. Eddington and his team went to Principe, and another team led by Frank Dyson of the Greenwich Observatory went to Sobral, Brazil.

Totality, the complete obscuration of the Sun, would be at 2:13 local time in Principe. Moments before the Moon slid in front of the Sun, the clouds finally began breaking up. For a moment, it was totally clear. Eddington and his group hastily captured images of a star cluster found near the Sun that day, called the Hyades, found in the constellation of Taurus. The astronomers were using the best astronomical technology of the time, photographic plates, which are large exposures taken on glass instead of film. Stars appeared on seven of the plates, and solar “prominences,” filaments of gas streaming from the Sun, appeared on others.

Eddington wanted to stay in Principe to measure the Hyades when there was no eclipse, but a ship workers’ strike made him leave early. Later, Eddington and Dyson both compared the glass plates taken during the eclipse to other glass plates captured of the Hyades in a different part of the sky, when there was no eclipse. On the images from Eddington’s and Dyson’s expeditions, the stars were not aligned. The 40-year-old Einstein was right.

“Lights All Askew In the Heavens,” the New York Times proclaimed when the scientific papers were published. The eclipse was the key to the discovery—as so many solar eclipses before and since have illuminated new findings about our universe.

Telescope used to observe a total solar eclipse, Sobral, Brazil, 1919.

To understand why Eddington and Dyson traveled such distances to watch the eclipse, we need to talk about gravity.

Since at least the days of Isaac Newton, who wrote in 1687, scientists thought gravity was a simple force of mutual attraction. Newton proposed that every object in the universe attracts every other object in the universe, and that the strength of this attraction is related to the size of the objects and the distances among them. This is mostly true, actually, but it’s a little more nuanced than that.

On much larger scales, like among black holes or galaxy clusters, Newtonian gravity falls short. It also can’t accurately account for the movement of large objects that are close together, such as how the orbit of Mercury is affected by its proximity the Sun.

Albert Einstein’s most consequential breakthrough solved these problems. General relativity holds that gravity is not really an invisible force of mutual attraction, but a distortion. Rather than some kind of mutual tug-of-war, large objects like the Sun and other stars respond relative to each other because the space they are in has been altered. Their mass is so great that they bend the fabric of space and time around themselves.

Read More: 10 Surprising Facts About the 2024 Solar Eclipse

This was a weird concept, and many scientists thought Einstein’s ideas and equations were ridiculous. But others thought it sounded reasonable. Einstein and others knew that if the theory was correct, and the fabric of reality is bending around large objects, then light itself would have to follow that bend. The light of a star in the great distance, for instance, would seem to curve around a large object in front of it, nearer to us—like our Sun. But normally, it’s impossible to study stars behind the Sun to measure this effect. Enter an eclipse.

Einstein’s theory gives an equation for how much the Sun’s gravity would displace the images of background stars. Newton’s theory predicts only half that amount of displacement.

Eddington and Dyson measured the Hyades cluster because it contains many stars; the more stars to distort, the better the comparison. Both teams of scientists encountered strange political and natural obstacles in making the discovery, which are chronicled beautifully in the book No Shadow of a Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse That Confirmed Einstein's Theory of Relativity , by the physicist Daniel Kennefick. But the confirmation of Einstein’s ideas was worth it. Eddington said as much in a letter to his mother: “The one good plate that I measured gave a result agreeing with Einstein,” he wrote , “and I think I have got a little confirmation from a second plate.”

The Eddington-Dyson experiments were hardly the first time scientists used eclipses to make profound new discoveries. The idea dates to the beginnings of human civilization.

Careful records of lunar and solar eclipses are one of the greatest legacies of ancient Babylon. Astronomers—or astrologers, really, but the goal was the same—were able to predict both lunar and solar eclipses with impressive accuracy. They worked out what we now call the Saros Cycle, a repeating period of 18 years, 11 days, and 8 hours in which eclipses appear to repeat. One Saros cycle is equal to 223 synodic months, which is the time it takes the Moon to return to the same phase as seen from Earth. They also figured out, though may not have understood it completely, the geometry that enables eclipses to happen.

The path we trace around the Sun is called the ecliptic. Our planet’s axis is tilted with respect to the ecliptic plane, which is why we have seasons, and why the other celestial bodies seem to cross the same general path in our sky.

As the Moon goes around Earth, it, too, crosses the plane of the ecliptic twice in a year. The ascending node is where the Moon moves into the northern ecliptic. The descending node is where the Moon enters the southern ecliptic. When the Moon crosses a node, a total solar eclipse can happen. Ancient astronomers were aware of these points in the sky, and by the apex of Babylonian civilization, they were very good at predicting when eclipses would occur.

Two and a half millennia later, in 2016, astronomers used these same ancient records to measure the change in the rate at which Earth’s rotation is slowing—which is to say, the amount by which are days are lengthening, over thousands of years.

By the middle of the 19 th century, scientific discoveries came at a frenetic pace, and eclipses powered many of them. In October 1868, two astronomers, Pierre Jules César Janssen and Joseph Norman Lockyer, separately measured the colors of sunlight during a total eclipse. Each found evidence of an unknown element, indicating a new discovery: Helium, named for the Greek god of the Sun. In another eclipse in 1869, astronomers found convincing evidence of another new element, which they nicknamed coronium—before learning a few decades later that it was not a new element, but highly ionized iron, indicating that the Sun’s atmosphere is exceptionally, bizarrely hot. This oddity led to the prediction, in the 1950s, of a continual outflow that we now call the solar wind.

And during solar eclipses between 1878 and 1908, astronomers searched in vain for a proposed extra planet within the orbit of Mercury. Provisionally named Vulcan, this planet was thought to exist because Newtonian gravity could not fully describe Mercury’s strange orbit. The matter of the innermost planet’s path was settled, finally, in 1915, when Einstein used general relativity equations to explain it.

Many eclipse expeditions were intended to learn something new, or to prove an idea right—or wrong. But many of these discoveries have major practical effects on us. Understanding the Sun, and why its atmosphere gets so hot, can help us predict solar outbursts that could disrupt the power grid and communications satellites. Understanding gravity, at all scales, allows us to know and to navigate the cosmos.

GPS satellites, for instance, provide accurate measurements down to inches on Earth. Relativity equations account for the effects of the Earth’s gravity and the distances between the satellites and their receivers on the ground. Special relativity holds that the clocks on satellites, which experience weaker gravity, seem to run slower than clocks under the stronger force of gravity on Earth. From the point of view of the satellite, Earth clocks seem to run faster. We can use different satellites in different positions, and different ground stations, to accurately triangulate our positions on Earth down to inches. Without those calculations, GPS satellites would be far less precise.

This year, scientists fanned out across North America and in the skies above it will continue the legacy of eclipse science. Scientists from NASA and several universities and other research institutions will study Earth’s atmosphere; the Sun’s atmosphere; the Sun’s magnetic fields; and the Sun’s atmospheric outbursts, called coronal mass ejections.

When you look up at the Sun and Moon on the eclipse , the Moon’s day — or just observe its shadow darkening the ground beneath the clouds, which seems more likely — think about all the discoveries still yet waiting to happen, just behind the shadow of the Moon.

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4 best ways to view the solar eclipse safely without glasses

The day of the 2024 total solar eclipse is here, and you may be among the millions of Americans scrambling to get a glimpse of the moment the moon completely blocks the sun.

The safest way to watch the solar eclipse is with special glasses because it can damage your eyes to look directly at the sun. But with the rare phenomenon expected to start this afternoon, if you haven't purchased any of the recommended glasses, you may think you've missed your chance.

Live updates:  Following along our total solar eclipse live blog

Luckily, it's possibly to safely watch the solar eclipse without eclipse glasses. Here are a few of the best ways to do so.

How to watch the eclipse without glasses

Taken from a few expert sources, here are a few easy ways to watch the solar eclipse if you don't have the special glasses.

Make a pinhole projector

You can make a pinhole camera to watch the eclipse instead of using glasses with a few materials you probably have lying around your home, according to the Planetary Society .

To start, go outside and find a good spot to view the eclipse. Ideally, when the eclipse becomes visible in your area, you'll want to be able to see the shadow of your head and shoulders and nothing else in this spot.

Then, take two pieces of card stock (or a paper plate) and use a pushpin to punch a hole in the middle of one of the cards. If you're interested in doing something more elaborate, you can punch multiple holes in the card in the shape of a design, like a star or heart.

To use it to view the eclipse, go to a place where you can see your shadow. With your back to the sun, hold up the card with the hole(s) in the one hand and the card without the holes in the other. Place the card with the holes above your shoulder and the hole-less card a few feet behind it so you can see the shadow of the card with the hole on it.

The light in the middle of the shadow is the sun, so when the eclipse is visible in your area, the card with the hole will project it onto the other card.

Use a mirror

You can use a mirror to safely view the eclipse, according to the Royal Astronomical Society in the U.K.

The way you do so is by using the mirror to reflect the image of the eclipse onto a wall or another flat surface, ideally a white one — not by looking at the eclipse in the mirror, as this can damage your eyes. Do not use a magnifying mirror for this.

Cover the mirror with a piece of paper that has a small hole in it, no more than 5 millimeters. Stand with your back to the eclipse and use the covered mirror to reflect the light of the sun onto a wall or other flat surface. You can do this outside or inside with an open window. Do not reflect the sunlight into your eyes or someone else's.

Use a colander

A colander, also known as a pasta strainer, is another way to view the eclipse without glasses. All you have to do is hold it about 20 inches above the ground with your back to the sun, according to the Exploratorium . You can also place a piece of white paper on the ground so you can see the eclipse projected onto it more easily.

If you don't have a colander, you can use a cheese grater instead.

DIY solar eclipse glasses with a cereal box

You can use a cereal box to make makeshift glasses that allow you to safely view the eclipse, according to NASA .

To start, empty the cereal box. Then cut a piece of white cardboard to fit in the bottom of the box. It should be snug, or you should glue it in place. Cut the top of the cereal box so there is a square hole on either side but the middle part is intact. Tape the middle section to hold it closed.

Use a piece of tin foil to cover one of the openings on the top of the box and tape it in place. Make a small hole in the foil no bigger than 3 millimeters. The other opening should stay that way as that's what you'll look through.

When the eclipse hits your area, take the box and turn your back to the sun. The side with the foil and the hole should point toward the sun. Then look through the other side, and you should see the eclipse projected onto the white cardboard on the inside at the bottom of the box. It will look like a bright spot of light.

Can I wear regular sunglasses to watch the eclipse?

No, using regular sunglasses is not a safe way to watch the solar eclipse because they don't reduce the amount of sunlight that hits the back of your eyes by that much.

“They’re not an acceptable means for protecting your retina” if you stare directly at the sun, Dr. Russell N. Van Gelder, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, previously told TODAY.com.

Can I watch the eclipse through my phone?

Using your phone to watch the eclipse without the proper equipment could be both harmful to your phone and your eyes. In a recent post on X , formerly known as Twitter, NASA explained that pointing your phone camera at the eclipse could damage its sensor.

In its guide to photographing the eclipse , NASA also stated that you need to wear eclipse-safe glasses in order to protect your eyes while trying to take picture of the eclipse.

You can use your phone to watch the eclipse via NASA's live YouTube stream .

Can you watch the eclipse through a window?

Yes, you can watch the eclipse through a window as long as you use the recommended protective glasses. If you don't have glasses, many of the DIY methods may be less effective through a window.

Maura Hohman is the senior health editor for TODAY.com and has been covering health and wellness since 2015.

Can I take a photo of the eclipse with my phone? Here's how, plus more info on cellphones.

write a reflection paper on what you have watched

You can capture Monday's solar eclipse in Wisconsin with your cellphone, according to NASA .

You'll need to use a solar filter to protect your camera, and you'll also need a pair of solar viewing glasses to protect your eyes.

For more information on how to best capture the eclipse, you can visit NASA's website .

While Wisconsin will only see a partial solar eclipse, cell service still could affected by it.

Here's what else to know about cellphones during the eclipse:

Will I have cellphone service during the solar eclipse in Wisconsin?

Solar eclipses can affect the structure and dynamics of Earth's upper atmosphere, otherwise known as the ionosphere, according to NASA . Since the ionosphere contains charged particles and is responsible for reflecting and refracting radio waves, it can possibly affect radio communications and navigation systems.

"While solar eclipses can have noticeable effects on the ionosphere, they are generally temporary and localized to the region experiencing the eclipse," according to NASA.

However, because Wisconsin most likely won't be facing high volumes of crowds traveling to see the partial eclipse, cellular networks won't be as strained across the state as areas in the path of totality.

Will cellular data work during the solar eclipse?

Cellular data should work during the solar eclipse, especially as some networks have expanded since the last solar eclipse in 2017.

AT&T has said it expanded the 5G network to reach millions of people in 24,500 cities across the country. T-Mobile said it has deployed additional cell sites to handle the influx of people traveling to view the eclipse. T-Mobile also said it increased investments in network hardening by more than 30% over the past two years.

More: Wisconsin will be cloudy during the eclipse. Here's where you can travel to see clear skies

How to make a handmade solar eclipse view box if you can't find glasses

Homemade pinhole eclipse viewers an alternative to fancy glasses for viewing solar eclipse on april 8. only a sliver of michigan will be in the path of totality, when moon completely covers the sun..

write a reflection paper on what you have watched

Eclipses, like the total solar eclipse coming up today , are some of the sky's most spectacular shows. And there are multiple ways to view them safely.

It could be too late to find solar eclipse glasses at the last minute, though there are a few places you could try, such as retail stores and local libraries . But in the event that you don't have eclipse glasses, we have another idea for you: Your own eclipse viewer.

It takes a little creativity and a handful to household supplies to make your own pinhole box or pinhole projector, also known as a pinhole camera. Here's what to know about building your own eclipse viewer.

How to build your own eclipse viewer

One method simply involves two sheets of sturdy white paper, a cereal box and another sheet of paper. The other supplies you need: tape and aluminum foil, scissors, and a pin or thumbtack.

Here's how to make a pinhole viewer with a cereal box:

  • Trace a piece of white paper along the bottom of the box, making sure it will fit the bottom of the box, and tape or glue it into place it inside the box.
  • Seal the top of the box, then cut rectangular holes on the right and left sides of the top of the box.
  • Cut a piece of aluminum foil to cover the top left hole and tape in place. Make sure the foil is flat and not crinkled.
  • Poke a pinhole in the center of the foil.
  • During the eclipse, stand with the sun behind you, and look into the right hole at the top of the box and watch a projection of the eclipsed sun on the paper inside.

Here's another do-it-yourself option:

  • Cut a 1- to 2-inch rectangular hole in a white sheet of cardstock — paper that is sturdier than regular paper and thinner than cardboard (the kind used for business cards and postcards). A paper plate will do as well. Place a smooth piece of aluminum foil over the hole.
  • Flip the paper over, and use a pin or thumbtack to poke a small hole in the foil.
  • During the eclipse, place a second piece of cardstock, or paper plate, on the ground, and hold the piece with the aluminum foil above the paper, making sure the foil is facing up. Stand with the sun behind you and view the projected image on the cardstock. The farther apart the sheets of cardstock are from each other, the bigger the projected image will be.
  • You can also try putting the bottom piece of cardstock in a shadowed area, while holding the other piece in the sunlight.

Other ideas: Poke several holes in the foil to make shapes, patterns or other designs. Use various household items that have multiple small holes, such as a colander or steamer, and view the patterns they create, but make sure your back is to the sun.

And don't forget to grab a helper to take photos of your designs.

These projectors are known as pinhole cameras because the small hole you made acts like a tiny camera lens. Light from the sun enters the pinhole (or colander), gets focused and then projected to the other side of the hole. When the projected light reaches the surface, like the second sheet of cardstock, you can see the image that passed through the pinhole.

More: What time is the solar eclipse in Michigan? Search your ZIP code for a viewing guide.

Don't forget: it's not safe to look directly at the sun during the eclipse , and sunglasses don't provide protection. If you're using special glasses, make sure they meet the ISO standard 12312-2. NASA does not endorse specific eyewear for viewing the eclipse.

Source: NASA

Contact Jennifer Dixon: [email protected] .

No glasses? No problem. Three cool ways to safely view the eclipse.

‘pinhole projectors’ will do the trick. so will plants in your backyard..

The April 8 total solar eclipse is finally here — and it’s sure to amaze and delight the millions who see it.

Everyone in the Lower 48 states will be able to view at least a partial solar eclipse, assuming cloud-free skies .

To savor the eclipse, you don’t need special equipment. Even if you can’t get your hands on eclipse glasses , there are old school, low-tech ways to see it. If you’re crafty and canny, the eclipse can still be a memorable experience.

2024 total solar eclipse

write a reflection paper on what you have watched

Safety first

The first rule of enjoying the eclipse is to avoid looking directly at the sun without eye protection. Even brief glances can cause permanent damage.

The only exception to this rule is for lucky spectators in the path of totality during the few minutes of the total eclipse, when the sun is fully blocked by the moon.

For those witnessing the partial solar eclipse, even when most of the sun’s surface is blocked, the remaining, visible crescent is still intensely bright and cannot be safely viewed without eye protection.

But, if you don’t have eye protection, here are some safe ways to experience the partial eclipse through indirect means:

Make a pinhole projector

A way around looking directly the sun is to make your own eclipse projector using a cereal box. It’s a safe and terrific way to capture the eclipse action.

Clear the kitchen table and find the craft scissors. In addition to the cereal box, you’ll need a piece of aluminum foil, tape and a small nail or pushpin.

First, eat your Froot Loops — or whatever toasted grain you prefer — and keep the box. On a white piece of paper or white cardboard, trace the bottom of the box. Then, clip out the traced rectangle from the paper and put it in the bottom of the opened box. That’s your screen that images of the eclipse will project onto.

Cut out two squares (1.5 inches should suffice) on the lid of the box and then tape the lid back together. For one square, cover the hole in foil and tape it down. Gently put a pushpin or small nail hole through it, as that is the lens that the sun’s light will pass through. The smaller the hole, the sharper the projected image.

When using your personal box theater, turn away from the sun — and let the sun’s rays shine through the tiny pin hole. Look through the other hole in the lid to see the eclipse action — during the eclipse you’ll see the moon biting a chunk from the sun.

Other kinds of small boxes — such as shoe boxes or small package boxes — work well, too. And your kids can decorate them for fun.

Looking to the trees

If you’re not inclined to make a projector box, you can also view the partial phases of the eclipse in the shadows of trees and plants.

The small gaps in between leaves, branches and pine needles act as miniature projectors. When light passes through, a small image of the sun is cast onto the ground. As the partial eclipse progresses, you’ll see the small circles evolve into sickle-shaped crescents, eventually waning to a sliver.

You may consider holding a white piece of paper or poster board beneath a tree or plant to make it easier to spot the shadows.

Gadgets and fingers

Leaves aren’t special — they just happen to be good at producing tiny projections. But realistically, any hole that’s about a quarter inch wide, give or take, will do the trick. That means you could even parade around outside with your pasta colander, cheese grater or serving spoon with holes in it and look at its shadow. Place white paper or poster board on the ground to see the projection more clearly.

You could also just hold your fingers out and crisscross them to make for half a dozen or so small openings between. Just extend your fingers on both hands as if you’re trying to make a W , and then overlap them.

Simple, yet elegant.

A total solar eclipse passed across the United States on Monday, April 8. See photos and videos from the path of totality and read our reporters’ coverage from scenes across the nation .

Looking ahead: Missed this one? The next eclipse visible in the United States won’t be until 2044 — and then we’ll see another shortly after in 2045. If you did watch this eclipse but without proper eyewear, here’s what to do if your eyes hurt .

The science: This eclipse appeared especially dramatic because the sun was at its most active period in two decades. In the past, solar eclipses have helped scientists learn more about the universe . Here’s everything else to know about the solar eclipse.

  • Your ultimate guide to the total solar eclipse, its path and how to watch April 8, 2024 Your ultimate guide to the total solar eclipse, its path and how to watch April 8, 2024
  • Here’s what not to do to safely watch the total solar eclipse April 5, 2024 Here’s what not to do to safely watch the total solar eclipse April 5, 2024
  • Eclipse tourists should plan for overloaded cell networks April 2, 2024 Eclipse tourists should plan for overloaded cell networks April 2, 2024

write a reflection paper on what you have watched

Advertisement

What Solar Eclipse-Gazing Has Looked Like for the Past 2 Centuries

Millions of people on Monday will continue the tradition of experiencing and capturing solar eclipses, a pursuit that has spawned a lot of unusual gear.

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In a black-and-white photo from 1945, nine men, some in military uniforms, stand in the middle of a New York City street. They are holding a small piece of what looks like glass or a photographic negative above their heads to protect their eyes as they watch the eclipse. The original border of the print, as well as some numbers and crop marks drawn onto it, are visible.

By Sarah Eckinger

  • April 8, 2024

For centuries, people have been clamoring to glimpse solar eclipses. From astronomers with custom-built photographic equipment to groups huddled together with special glasses, this spectacle has captivated the human imagination.

Creating a Permanent Record

In 1860, Warren de la Rue captured what many sources describe as the first photograph of a total solar eclipse . He took it in Rivabellosa, Spain, with an instrument known as the Kew Photoheliograph . This combination of a telescope and camera was specifically built to photograph the sun.

Forty years later, Nevil Maskelyne, a magician and an astronomy enthusiast, filmed a total solar eclipse in North Carolina. The footage was lost, however, and only released in 2019 after it was rediscovered in the Royal Astronomical Society’s archives.

write a reflection paper on what you have watched

Telescopic Vision

For scientists and astronomers, eclipses provide an opportunity not only to view the moon’s umbra and gaze at the sun’s corona, but also to make observations that further their studies. Many observatories, or friendly neighbors with a telescope, also make their instruments available to the public during eclipses.

Fredrik Hjalmar Johansen, Fridtjof Nansen and Sigurd Scott Hansen observing a solar eclipse while on a polar expedition in 1894 .

Women from Wellesley College in Massachusetts and their professor tested out equipment ahead of their eclipse trip (to “catch old Sol in the act,” as the original New York Times article phrased it) to New London, Conn., in 1922.

A group from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania traveled to Yerbaniz, Mexico, in 1923, with telescopes and a 65-foot camera to observe the sun’s corona .

Dr. J.J. Nassau, director of the Warner and Swasey Observatory at Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland, prepared to head to Douglas Hill, Maine, to study an eclipse in 1932. An entire freight car was required to transport the institution’s equipment.

Visitors viewed a solar eclipse at an observatory in Berlin in the mid-1930s.

A family set up two telescopes in Bar Harbor, Maine, in 1963. The two children placed stones on the base to help steady them.

An astronomer examined equipment for an eclipse in a desert in Mauritania in June 1973. We credit the hot climate for his choice in outfit.

Indirect Light

If you see people on Monday sprinting to your local park clutching pieces of paper, or with a cardboard box of their head, they are probably planning to reflect or project images of the solar eclipse onto a surface.

Cynthia Goulakos demonstrated a safe way to view a solar eclipse , with two pieces of cardboard to create a reflection of the shadowed sun, in Lowell, Mass., in 1970.

Another popular option is to create a pinhole camera. This woman did so in Central Park in 1963 by using a paper cup with a small hole in the bottom and a twin-lens reflex camera.

Amateur astronomers viewed a partial eclipse, projected from a telescope onto a screen, from atop the Empire State Building in 1967 .

Back in Central Park, in 1970, Irving Schwartz and his wife reflected an eclipse onto a piece of paper by holding binoculars on the edge of a garbage basket.

Children in Denver in 1979 used cardboard viewing boxes and pieces of paper with small pinholes to view projections of a partial eclipse.

A crowd gathered around a basin of water dyed with dark ink, waiting for the reflection of a solar eclipse to appear, in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 1995.

Staring at the Sun (or, How Not to Burn Your Retinas)

Eclipse-gazers have used different methods to protect their eyes throughout the years, some safer than others .

In 1927, women gathered at a window in a building in London to watch a total eclipse through smoked glass. This was popularized in France in the 1700s , but fell out of favor when physicians began writing papers on children whose vision was damaged.

Another trend was to use a strip of exposed photographic film, as seen below in Sydney, Australia, in 1948 and in Turkana, Kenya, in 1963. This method, which was even suggested by The Times in 1979 , has since been declared unsafe.

Solar eclipse glasses are a popular and safe way to view the event ( if you use models compliant with international safety standards ). Over the years there have been various styles, including these large hand-held options found in West Palm Beach, Fla., in 1979.

Parents and children watched a partial eclipse through their eclipse glasses in Tokyo in 1981.

Slimmer, more colorful options were used in Nabusimake, Colombia, in 1998.

In France in 1999.

And in Iran and England in 1999.

And the best way to see the eclipse? With family and friends at a watch party, like this one in Isalo National Park in Madagascar in 2001.

https://media-cldnry.s-nbcnews.com/image/upload/rockcms/2024-04/240408-total-solar-eclipse-mexico-ew-212p-1fe045.jpg

Solar eclipse 2024: Photos from the path of totality and elsewhere in the U.S.

Images show the Great American Eclipse, seen by tens of millions of people in parts of Mexico, 15 U.S. states and eastern Canada for the first time since 2017.

Millions gathered across North America on Monday to bask in the glory of the Great American Eclipse — the moment when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. 

The path of totality measures more than 100 miles wide and will first be visible on Mexico’s Pacific coast before moving northeast through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and upward toward New York, New Hampshire and Maine, then on to Canada.

Total solar eclipse 2024 highlights: Live coverage, videos and more

During the cosmic spectacle, the moon’s movements will temporarily block the sun’s light, creating minutes of darkness, and will make the sun's outer atmosphere, or the corona, visible as a glowing halo.

Here are moments of the celestial activities across the country:

Image:

Breaking News Reporter

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Elise Wrabetz is a Senior Photo Editor for NBC News digital

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Chelsea Stahl is the art director for NBC News Digital

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    Use these 5 tips to write a thoughtful and insightful reflection paper. 1. Answer key questions. To write a reflection paper, you need to be able to observe your own thoughts and reactions to the material you've been given. A good way to start is by answering a series of key questions. For example:

  3. How to Write a Reflection Paper: 14 Steps (with Pictures)

    1. Keep it short and sweet. A typical reflection paper is between 300 and 700 words long. Verify whether or not your instructor specified a word count for the paper instead of merely following this average. If your instructor demands a word count outside of this range, meet your instructor's requirements. 2.

  4. How To Write a Reflection Paper (Components and Examples)

    The components of a reflection paper include the introduction, the body and a conclusion: Introduction (Thesis) A reflection paper's introduction specifies the topic, identifies the points it'll cover, and gives your thesis statement. In a reflection paper, your thesis can state what you came away with but in thought-provoking terms.

  5. How to Write a Reflection Paper (With Steps and Examples)

    Here are steps you can follow: 1. Understand and summarize the material. It's important that you review the material before writing the reflection paper. You can review similar texts and authorities to help you understand the content of the text. Some reflection papers may require you to review a particular event.

  6. How to Write a Reflective Essay With Sample Essays

    Writing a reflective essay, also known as a reflective paper or reflection paper, is as easy as following the step-by-step instructions below. 1. Choose a Topic Idea. If you haven't been assigned a topic and don't have a topic in mind, check the list of topics above for inspiration. If those aren't enough, take a look at these 100 reflection ...

  7. How to Write a Reflection Paper

    Develop your point through body paragraph (s), and conclude your paper by exploring the meaning you derive from your reflection. You may find the questions listed above can help you to develop an outline before you write your paper. You should maintain a formal tone, but it is acceptable to write in the first person and to use personal pronouns.

  8. How to Write a Reflection Paper

    The first step to starting a reflection paper is to brainstorm about the chosen topic. This means writing down everything about the topic, without editing or organizing. From this comes the thesis ...

  9. 6 Tips to Writing a Solid Reflection Paper (With a Sample Essay)

    Tip #3—Write in first-person singular. Write in first-person singular. Format the essay according to your teacher's instructions, using whatever citation style required. Your teacher will likely request that it is double-spaced, with 1" indentation in each margin, in 12 pt. font. Also keep in mind that most reflection papers will be around ...

  10. How To Write A Reflection Paper: A Guide For Students

    Here are some formatting basics for a reflective essay: The page should be double-spaced. The first word in each new paragraph should be indented. Your margins should be 1" on the top, bottom, and sides of the page. The page should be 8 1/2" x 11". Most reflective essays are between 250 to 750 words.

  11. How to Write a Reflection Paper? Steps and Examples

    Craft an Introduction. Hook the Reader: Open the sentence with some catchy and attention-grabbing words. Make the Context: Provide brief background data related to your topic that make a context. Define Your Thesis Statement: Use simple and clear words to highlight your main points of reflection.

  12. Writing a Reflective Paper

    Thinking About Reflective Thinking. Educational theorists have developed numerous models of reflective thinking that your professor may use to frame a reflective writing assignment. These models can help you systematically interpret your learning experiences, thereby ensuring that you ask the right questions and have a clear understanding of what should be covered.

  13. PDF Writing a Reflection Paper

    detailed help or if you have questions, visit the Writing Center located in the Lewis University Library or call 815-836-5427. Writing a Reflection Paper Format Typically, writers will use MLA format for reflection papers. However, professors will let you know if they have a specific format they would like you to use.

  14. How to Write a Reflection Paper: Example & Tips

    Make the paper double-spaced with 1-inch margins; Create a page header with page numbers flush right; Use a 10-12-point font. In-text citations. Follow the author-date format. If you want to summarize or paraphrase the information, list the author's name and the date of publication in brackets.

  15. How to Write a Reflection Paper: Step-by-Step Guide

    Here are basic steps to follow: Choose your topic: Conduct preliminary research, learn who your interviewer is. Take some time to research proper interview questions on the chosen topic. Create an outline to make good notes that will help you maintain certain focus in conversation. Conduct the interview, make records and take notes.

  16. Reflection Paper

    A reflection paper is like looking in a mirror because it helps the writer see themself from a different perspective and then internalize what they see in themselves that they haven't before. As ...

  17. Reflection Paper

    The goal is to share a story about your relationship with the content. Therefore, unlike research papers, reflections can include opinions and personal assumptions, and they are written in first person. Finally, reflections are not first-person book reports. Regurgitating the material in your own words does not make a paper reflective.

  18. Reflection Papers Tutorial

    Reflection papers, at their core, are little more than formalized journal entries. Avoid informal language, but you don't need to keep it strictly academic, either. Think of reflection papers like paintings (or, if you're a Shrek fan, like an onion). Paintings are completed and enhanced through layers (like onions); your reaction is just one ...

  19. How to Write a Reflection Paper on a Movie

    This common rule is applied to any scientifically-based project. However, a movie reflection paper is not a reflection of the entire story. Some unknown facts may shed more light on the motif you have chosen. Give heed to -. The cast; Historic events; Locations; Characters of the main heroes; Critics, etc.

  20. Reflection Papers

    Professors assign reflection papers so they can see how much you move from point A to point B. Here are some scenarios: your class readings challenged you to think (or feel) a different way your training asked you to perform a task in a particular manner you watched a film and were asked to reflect on it. A reflection paper, from a writing ...

  21. How to Write a Reflection Paper: Full Guide with a Free Example

    Describe the feeling and overall lesson you had as a result of the reading or experience. There are a few good ways to conclude a reflection paper: Tie all the ideas from your body paragraphs ...

  22. How to Write a Reflection Paper

    Welcome to Homework joy Today we'll discuss how to write a #reflection paper. So let's get started.Before moving ahead, understand what a reflection paper is...

  23. Don't have glasses to watch today's solar eclipse? Here are 7 ...

    Watching the light pass through tree leaves. Peering into a modified cereal box. Angling a kitchen colander. You can view the solar eclipse using these safe, alternative methods and more.

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    For six minutes, the longest eclipse since 1416, the Moon would completely block the face of the Sun, pulling a curtain of darkness over a thin stripe of Earth. Eddington traveled into the eclipse ...

  25. How To Watch The Eclipse Without Glasses

    Use a colander. A colander, also known as a pasta strainer, is another way to view the eclipse without glasses. All you have to do is hold it about 20 inches above the ground with your back to the ...

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    1:24. You can capture Monday's solar eclipse in Wisconsin with your cellphone, according to NASA. You'll need to use a solar filter to protect your camera, and you'll also need a pair of solar ...

  27. How to make handmade solar eclipse viewer box at home

    Place a smooth piece of aluminum foil over the hole. Flip the paper over, and use a pin or thumbtack to poke a small hole in the foil. During the eclipse, place a second piece of cardstock, or ...

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    First, eat your Froot Loops — or whatever toasted grain you prefer — and keep the box. On a white piece of paper or white cardboard, trace the bottom of the box. Then, clip out the traced ...

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    Indirect Light. If you see people on Monday sprinting to your local park clutching pieces of paper, or with a cardboard box of their head, they are probably planning to reflect or project images ...

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    April 8, 2024, 11:24 AM PDT. By Marlene Lenthang, Elise Wrabetz and Chelsea Stahl. Millions gathered across North America on Monday to bask in the glory of the Great American Eclipse — the ...