• To help the instructor quickly learn students’ names
  • To help students realize how much they can change in just a short period of time


On the first day of the semester:

  •    Polaroid Instant Camera & film
  •    Pens

On the last day of the semester

  •    Pictures taken the first day of class
  •    Pens
  •    Blank paper
  •    Envelopes


1. At the beginning of each semester, I take a Polaroid photograph of each student in my Freshman Seminar.  I have them put their name or nickname on the photo.  I use these photos for the first few weeks to “quiz” myself on their names, so that I know everyone’s name in a short period of time.

2. At the end of the semester, I return to the students the Polaroid pictures I took of them on the first day. I invite them to write a letter to themselves, reflecting on the changes they have made over the semester and defining their goals for the upcoming year.  They address and seal the envelopes and give them to me, and I mail them a year later.  I find that the pictures help them reflect on how much they can change in a short period of time. (Note: Another option is to ask students to include in their letter the most important lessons they have learned during the semester.)


At the end of the semester, this activity tends to prompt class discussions about how different they feel and how much they have changed after 3 short months. They discuss how much they have learned and even some things they had forgotten (but now want to remember).  Many students choose to put the picture in with the letter so they can have the opportunity to reflect on the ways they have changed from both the beginning and the end of their first semester when they receive the letter.  This activity has always been well received and is a great way to promote reflection and self-awareness at the end of the semester.

–Terri Downing, Coordinator of Academic Advising, Franklin Pierce College, NH

Forum Image OptionPolaroid Reflections Forum