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metacognition- my final project

Stephen Cooney's picture

 Critique of Alison’s lesson


Alison’s lesson was a powerful tool to get us to have students subconsciously draw out the essence of learning for the individual.  Story is innate behavior for humans, so the notion of telling a narrative is calming.  The additional instructions that told us the narrative would not be read out loud or shared, made it easier to be more personal.  Those are essential parts of the instructions.  That she told us later of her own concerns about wording the instructions correctly (to the point of writing out exactly what she wanted to say) indicates their importance. 

I note the similarity to Paul’s lesson yesterday, accessing the subconscious.  It is clearly an important aspect of getting to the root of the (any??) problem/situation.


The second activity, analytically looking at the narrative to discern what you needed for learning in that singular environment was very powerful.  Do I need all of those attributes every time I learn, doubt it, but it would be interesting to identify which, if any, I do.


The final activity of identifying what the teacher needed to give to me to be successful in that situation was another important tool of self-analysis.


I certainly plan on adapting this lesson for my own classes.


My lesson on Meta-cognition, with thanks to Alison.  For 9th grade and 12th grade students who are at least a little aware of meta-cognition.  I envision this at the beginning of the school year, laying the groundwork for us to always be ‘thinking about our thinking’.


Beforehand, for a day or two, (two’s more likely than one) we will have discussed the notion that physics is the science that helps to describe how the world around us works.  For example, this quote is on my wall about Newton’s Laws of Motion;

“His three Laws of Motion are ‘rules’ of nature that have been subjected to many tests of their validity and appear to accurately model and therefore predict how velocity, mass, force and acceleration are inter-related.”

This message nicely matches with the notion Paul G put forth of a summary of observations.  While we now know that these 'laws' are not true on a quantum level, they are true on a ‘macro’ level, the world we live in.  That sort of thing will be part of the discussion, that there are no absolute 'rules' in physics, only the best set of shared observations that have been made to date.  Physics is and will always be changing as our observations change.  This will be an open inquiry discussion, going in whatever direction each class takes it.  I plan to record each session and make the discussions available to all students. 



Here is how I will pose the question/instruction.  For non-aural learners and/or slow processors, there will be a hard copy of the instructions for part 1.  A hard copy of instructions with room for a list of items for parts 2 and 3 will be given to everyone.  For those that need to type, usually 10-15% of my students, an e-version will be provided.


“I’d like you to write a short story about a time you learned something, actually anything, in or out of school.  If you can think of one that is in some way connected to learning something about physics, all the better, but it does not haveto do with physics.  I’ll give you a few minutes to compose the story in your head before you start writing.  You’ll have about 5 minutes to write, so let’s be done by____.  [Keeping the writing time short will ensure that they don’t try to over analyze the question]  I will not be asking you to read or share any specific parts of this story with the class.  You, however, will be using the story by drawing on what you write.”


 I will ask them to “List at least three things from the story that indicate items/skills/actions important for your learning success in the story (Because kids will always take the easiest way out, insisting that they list at least three things will help ensure that they do some real reflection).  Use your own language to describe the prime components of your learning.”



“Now, think about the teacher or person that helped you with that learning.  What did the teacher/lesson giver do to facilitate your learning for each item you listed above.  Use your own language to describe the help.”





It will be important to generate those lists that Alison posted on the board, but I don’t know that I’d number them (creating a specific link for each student’s learning issues and teacher needs), but rather keep the two lists separate and identify the terms/thoughts/ideas/topics that came up more than once (we are more alike than we are different) just like Paul G did when we did our subconscious brainstorm with him.  On a subsequent day after we get finished in each class, I’d bring out (in front of each group) the lists from each of the other classes and create a master list for both learning styles and teacher ‘duties’ that would be posted in the room.  When we are sharing the lists from the other classes it will be a great opportunity for more inquiry type sharing.