Weekly Reflection: catching bubbles

Bubble reflection
Image used under creative commons licence.

On the last days of my summer vacation I had the pleasure to visit @samsherratt class in Bangkok. His class blog (and an older version) is source of inspiration for me so to see the class in action was surreally wonderful.

Among the dozens of ideas I saw during my time in class was the idea of a simple notebook being made into something awesome, a bubble catcher. In short a bubble catcher is a place to record ideas and thoughts. The story of the name behind the book is that a visiting writer had likened ideas to bubbles, they float away easily so we need to write them down before they disappear.

I immediately seized on this idea, after all I use my iphone in the same manner; snapping pictures, making reminders, recording video to capture moments I want to remember later.

But how was I going to get my students enthused?

By blowing bubbles.

Intermediate is funny age. They are not kids any more but they are also not adults. In the back of my mind I wondered if the kids might screw their noses up at being asked to do an activity popular with pre-schoolers.

As it turned out, the antidote to sitting a lengthy test was to run around in the summer sun blowing bubbles.

There was no learning intention, no success criteria.

I wanted to sell the kids on an idea, the importance of capturing our ideas.

The students then decorated one of their exercise books and that will become their bubble catcher for the year. Our shared experience, the feelings of joy, the heat of the sun, the coolness of the shade and the sounds of laughter will hopefully stay with the students long after they leave class.

To be sure, this could have been done digitally. However I want to get the students into the simple action of recording quickly recording ideas and then going back to whatever it is they are doing. By the time the kids got out the computers, logged in, waited their turn, the moment would be gone.

In the words of one of my students, the bubble would have popped.

The technology in the classroom, such as it is, just isn’t fit for the purpose.

Over the course of the year I hope that the book gets filled with writing, post its and the odd printed out pictures. It will be messy and apart from a date and some tags I hope every book looks different and, dare I say it, messy.

Because  real learning is always messy.

14 thoughts on “Weekly Reflection: catching bubbles

Add yours

  1. Another awesome idea, Stephanie. Thank you for sharing!

    A bubble catcher is the perfect metaphor for our writing notebooks this year. I trialled them last year based on the book “I’ve got something to say” by Gail Loane and they worked for many students. Real learning is always messy!


  2. I think I might make myself a bubble catcher too. This is such a great concept. I do have a book where I jot donw ideas, but it has nothing of the joie-de-vivre of a bubble catcher. Somehow the metaphor just works. Perfectly.


  3. Hi Stephanie,
    How exciting! I too have met Sam and been inspired by this concept and many others. I
    began the process of the bubble catcher with my new Year 4 class on Friday. I am aiming to follow the process through to the “River of learning” discussion and reflection routine that Sam uses too as from what I have seen on his blog, it is invaluable for sharing, reflecting and taking ownership of their learning.

    We are taking it slowly with a lot of modelling – BUT I love your idea of using bubbles and as it happens I have 4 enormous bubble making devices in my classroom – I bought them in the holidays thinking I would find a purpose for them and now I have, thanks to you.
    This will be a great kinesthetic way for them to understand the purpose of their little book and how they can grab it at any point to capture their thought before it “pops” and is forgotten.

    I would love to hear how your students progress with their bubble catchers. I have also recently (very) begun my own blog and will be making this my first post and will acknowledge you in it for this idea.

    Thanks for sharing.



    1. HI Hailey
      Thanks so much for your comment. We are only a week into the bubble catchers but it will be interesting to see how they progress. I’m also a big believer that reflection needs to happen on the spot rather than saving it all up for the end of the week. I would love to try the river of learning later in the year.



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