Reflective Writing

Reflective Writing: the 3D format

All writing is a process. Students need to practice writing reflections and will eventually be familiar with this format. It encourages students to develop a range of skills in identifying features and analysis, plus critical evaluation. Allow the use of headings at first, as a reminder of the different requirements. More mature students need to be able to write competently in a structured, extended paragraph response and so I discourage the use of headings.

Encouraging students to meaningfully reflect on their learning can be approached in an organised way with this format. I have found it useful with all years of high school and  helpful in finalising a unit of work. It also allows each person in a group an opportunity to participate in discussions, settling a class after lunch, and keeping students focussed during class presentations.

The 3D Format


  • outline the event, activity, text
  • provide information – date, time, place, author, audience, context, purpose …
  • 1/4 page or 1-2 sentences or 5-6 lines


  • use first person to explain your thoughts, ideas and feelings
  • should use specific details and examples of features or techniques to fully explain their point of view
  • up to 1/3 page or several paragraphs in senior years


  • use first person to outline how your thinking and learning has been affected
  • 1/4 page or 1-2 sentences or 5-6 lines
  • a brief concluding paragraph

taken from an article of the same name originally published in Metaphor the journal of the English Teachers Association of New South Wales, Australia in 2007

Between Two Worlds 

subjective to objective

Reflective Writing Rubric

Reflective 3D Format Marking Criteria

suggested word bank


Transformation: from reflection to analysis: the 3D Reflective Writing Scaffold.

Transformation conference paper


Wish You Well – a senior student reflects on the aspects of ‘journey’ found in this music video

This is an unedited example of the 3D format showing the three distinct paragraphs. You can read the finished analytical paragraphs on my Music Video page.

Wish You Well 3

The music video “Wish You Well” by Bernard Fanning is about a Journey, walking down a path in the lively forest.

I think this music video is about a journey the persona is on. I thought that in the music video was strange because of the random thing/pictures in the frames. These different things/pictures in the frames represented his past and the people walking in and out of his life but I’m not 100% sure if that is correct. But its definently involving the journey the persona is on.

I learnt that this music video is about journey. The song is about inner journey (his emotions) But the music video is more about a physical journey be cause he is walking a path, seeing his past but that could also be about inner journey & he could also be just thinking about his past & imaging this happening. in the film clip.

Wish You Well 5

* this reflection is taken from my article ‘Thinking in the Key of MTV’ Screen Education, Issue 60


Here is my own reflection on an Australian novel that I have enjoyed reading and teaching, and will continue to enjoy. It’s sweet simplicity and language use make the themes very accessible for Stage 3 and 4 learners.

a different cover

Blueback is a novel written by Tim Winton and originally published in 1997 by Penguin Books. The cover blurb suggests that the story is a “… deceptively simple allegory about a boy …” who grows up on the coast. Blueback is aimed at a young teen audience, but is easily enjoyed by older readers. This excerpt, found on page five of the 2009 edition, is an excellent example of how Winton effectively uses language to create vivid images.

I find the early images in the book are compelling and immediately draw the reader into Abel Jackson’s world. The actual words and sentence structure are quite simple, yet the combination of alliteration and onomatopoeia in ‘cold crash’ add to the action. Each paragraph designates another stage in the action, but I particularly like the third paragraph with its use of simple adjectives and verbs that create a specific atmosphere of anticipation. Examples include ‘nervous’ and ‘trembled’. I can relate to the joy of swimming through the use of the simile in the final line ‘like a bird’.

I have enjoyed reading and re-reading this novel as the writing has a fresh feel each time I live in Abel’s world. I am reminded of the way that even simple language techniques can be used to engage the reader. In my writing, I will try to include adjectives that set a precise scene. I’m also aiming to include different sentence beginnings and a flowing structure.

Just Imagine

Conor, year 7, reflected

On the 15th May (a Friday) we gathered at the bus bay for our first creative writing excursion. After a long bus trip, we arrived at the Wollongong City Gallery and filed into a room where out guide Nancie showed us the paintings. We were given a sheet to fill in and we all chose our artworks. The, on Friday the 22nd May (one week later) we met at the Kiama Library. Here we wrote, edited, had conversations, read out and discussed everyone’s work, giving out tips and building on our stories and writing skills.

I didn’t feel nervous at all. I just felt excited, expectant and a little jumpy. I thought that we all really built on our writing skills and that it was fun and that I learnt a lot.

 I have learnt a lot about describing things and cutting words out of stories, as well as shortening. I feel very confident and excited about my writing now, and I think I can use these skills a lot in the future, while writing for all purposes. All round it was awesome.

Kate, year 8, disclosed

I thought that this experience was very useful. I really enjoyed being able to widen my vocabulary and let my imagination roam free. I was able to experiment with new words and was able to discuss my difficulties with my fellow students and Ms Burke. How to edit my work. When to use certain words. How to change sentences to make them better and much, much more. I think that these ideas will be useful in the future as I would love to be able to write interesting and engaging things. This experience has given me skills that I will use for the rest of my life.

I have learnt a LOT about creative writing in just two days.  I feel confident about writing now and will really enjoy the next story I have to write.

Breanna, year 8, commented

I have learnt that there is no right or wrong answers for writing. Also that if you don’t know how to start a piece you can just start anywhere and see where you end up. I can build on my ideas in the future to make it really interesting and extend it more. I feel that writing is a life long skill and I will try to keep that.

2 responses to “Reflective Writing

  1. Pingback: 3D model for reflection | Christian Lenehan's MSc in Risk Management·

  2. Pingback: My first excursion – Me as a Uni student·

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