Embedding Metacognition

Ask 3 Before Me PosterThis week I have taken the opportunity to use metacognitive activities with my classes, encouraging them to reflect upon the strategies they use to learn, how effectively they learn, and how they can improve their learning. Whilst I had been embedding these activities all throughout my units with year 7 and year 10, our Head Teacher this week expressed concern about the lack of independent thinking which some of our students were displaying. As a faculty, we decided to focus more upon these activities with our students.

My Year 7 classes reflected upon what they have learnt this term, and which method of learning they found to be most enjoyable and effective (they have participated in group work, student-lead activities, teacher-directed activities, and independent work).  They filled out a KWL chart at the beginning of the term for what they knew about Italy and what they wanted to learn. They then reflected upon this today in order to ascertain whether they had achieved their learning goals. It was also a real confidence boost for students, as they realised just how much knowledge they had accumulated and skills they had developed over the term.

Year 8 spent a lesson considering how they could become independent thinkers, as their constant need for a teacher’s advice and approval was becoming exhausting and overwhelming. I used the ‘Ask 3 Before Me’ model which was suggested by a member of my fantastic faculty, Beth, and got students to brainstorm 3 questions they could ask or 3 places they could find answers without having to ask the teacher. They came up with suggestions like ‘Check your workbook’, ‘Make your questions more specific’, which I was impressed with considering they had not, so far, displayed these skills this year.

Year 10 reflected upon 3 things they had learnt in English this term, which provided me with really useful information about how effective my teaching strategies had been. Three students remembered the metaphors I had used to explain poetry analysis (‘unlocking the poem’) and also wrote that they had learnt how to work with other people in a productive way. Year 10 then had to identify one thing from the term which they felt they could continue to improve upon. I was convinced it would be essay writing, as many of them had struggled through the assessment, however to my surprise it was things like ‘ignoring ______ who constantly distracts me in class’, indicating that these students had an awareness of how they best worked, and the factors which detracted from work.

Always one for modelling, during the time my classes spent reflecting this week, I also reflected upon how effectively I was using my metacognitive skills and what my goals were for next term. I then shared these with students when I asked other class members to share their reflections.


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