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Meta-Cognition

 

Initial Thoughts and Questions: Please discuss the following questions with one other person and be prepared to share with the larger group.

 

  1. Where and in what context have you heard about metacognition?
  2. What is your understanding of metacognition?
  3. How, if at all, do you think it relates to Inquiry Instruction? How would it effect lessons and instruction?  What would structures look like that help students build and develop metacognitive skills?
  4. Any other thoughts on this topic?

 

Follow up Questions after the lesson:

  1. What is still unclear about metacognition?
  2. What new questions do you have about this topic?

 

 

 

Notes on the Topic:

 

  • Meta-cognitive/self-awareness
    • process used in final stage/position in Piaget/Perry's cognitive developmental theory.
    • a final step in the "six facets of understanding" by Wiggins and MacTighe
    • meta-cognition is a reflective practice that helps one discern general patterns in ones own views and abilities.
    • meta-cognition may be an important tool in helping students move to more developed stages of understanding and learning by modeling self-awareness in ever evolving, dynamic contexts.
      • self awareness and general pattern recognition should help one make connection between specific topics, questions or problems and aid in transfering skills and knowledge to solve new problems.
      • help build meta-cognition with reflective questions like,  ... how does what we just learned connect to you? ... was this easy or hard for you to grasp?  ... was it meaningful to you, why or why not?

 

 

 

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Comments

Deborah Hazen's picture

Inquiry versus guided discovery

guided discovery: "...instruction style by which the learners are led to discover a predetermined outcome. The predetermined goal usually consists of finding some general principle. The learners commonly develop this general principle by studying specific situations (that is, by induction)." Domin I think (1999)--having some difficulty with the citation.

I'm interested in exploring with others the difference between a guided discovery and an inquiry.

 

Deborah Hazen's picture

Was it an inquiry lesson?

No. We did not ask the question (based on something that surprised us, was intriguing, or didn't make sense to us). We did not work collaboratively to develop an idea to test or choose a method/tools for collecting data. We did not work individually or in small groups to analyze the data and then come together to share opposing/differing views/stories about the data. We did not then work as a group to either decide to collect more data, allow the emergence of a group story....

The activiy that we participated in was preconceived, had one outcome, and was teacher led--so it isn't inquiry in my mind. Sure we inquired about how we thought---it was an activity that designed to highlight the metacognitive process. Neither the time or space was available in an isolated hour--(one interaction between the teacher and class) to have an inquiry into metacognition.

 

Stephen Cooney's picture

 However, it would be a

 However, it would be a great first lesson on meta-cognition for kids who have never thought about it.  By having one write quickly, a short story about learning (without knowing what the later parts of the lesson are) they are more likely to be honest in the story.  If well led, the 2nd and 3rd steps will elicit wonderful insights for both student and teacher.

With a solid introduction to meta-cognition, the opportunity for further inquiry based lessons on both content and learning is unlimited.

Jill Bean's picture

More thoughts on inquiry...

Deb, I woke up thinking about this lesson and again thinking about whether is was Inquiry or not.  I felt like my thoughts had changed somewhat, but I have many of the same thoughts as you too.  

I think if we consider that yesterday was a day to think about "What is inquiry?", then Allison's activity could be considered to be a very structured inquiry lesson, but only as one small part of a larger inquiry.  I think if we decide that we were investigating "What is inquiry?" we could also say that Allison's activity was a structured way of investigating our own meta-cognition.  We started from our own experiences and were able to generate our own stories and our own thoughts about what we needed in order to learn.  I felt like there was room for more than one outcome: we all came up with our own thoughts on what we needed to learn in that situation.  However, once we had generated that list (our data) we didn't do anything with it.  If we had proceeded to examine the generated list and keep working to contruct our understanding of inquiry (using all the methods you describe above) then the activity could have been part of a larger inquiry. 

Wil Franklin's picture

Reflections From Day 3: Metacognition

 

Even if we exercise these "enlightened" practices in the classroom, don't we have the responsibilty to prepare students for the obstacles they will inevitably face in future?          Moira

I guess I have found that the more advanced the courses are typically more professorial and dogmatic. Edward.

[Re: Breaking the Cycle of Lecture style teaching] …or, should we also prepare them for what could happen and prepare them to take advantage of new opportunities?       Brie.

What do we really value?  What does empowering students mean?            …Wil

Metacognition is a habit of mind that makes inquiry a richer intrapersonal and interpersonal experience.            …Deb. 

So in terms of metacognition, how much of this is conscious? How much is affecting my cognitive unconscious in a way that's not constructive? I know that I try to filter but I wonder what happens to children with no filters?         …Joyce

Does becoming so self aware run the risk of stifling the unconscious?  Do we really value the unconscious in our education systems?  How do we tap into the power of the unconscious?  What role does metacognition have in the interplay between the unconscious and conscious? (Demonstration). …Wil

 

Deb’s preemptive answer to questions about the unconscious… “The unconscious dialogue that is metacognition is always happening in the background. What we need to do as educators is help students take the time to make this dialogue evident between their cognitive unconscious and their conscious (storyteller for the BBI folks)”

Joyce’s answer.

 

I find it interesting that colleges train teachers to use inquiry and to foster metacognition skills in their classrooms, but that [many] school districts don't encourage it.  …Syreeta

Should it be the other way around?  If early education was inquiry based, could colleges get down to the business of “turning out” professionals?        …Wil

 

The activity does help to raise awareness of our own metacognition.  However it was not an exercise in inquiry.  I'm interested in examining an inquiry lesson around metacognition.  What would that look like?          …Jill

Was Alison Cook-Sather’s lesson Inquiry Based Instruction? Did we inquire about our own learning style? If so, what was the data/evidence we analyzed? Perhaps Inquiry Instruction can be used outside of “science”, if one is willing to re-imagine data and evidence and emphasize instead the generation of stories/summaries/explanations.            …Wil

 

I keep coming back to "core content"? I am really searching for a balance between content and inquiry here.  There just seems to be a disconnect between the two, like there is a missing step needed to marry the best teaching practices to required content.

As always, I would appreciate your feedback.           …Moira

 

Deborah Hazen's picture

Metacognition as it relates to inquiry

In inquiry based learning it is important that students learn how to learn. How to ask questions, choose topics, select resources, be skeptical of their own ideas, be open to and skeptical of the ideas of others, critically analyze their stories based on data that they analyze, collaborate, and sustain student driven motivation to learn.

Metacognition is a habit of mind that makes inquiry a richer intrapersonal and interpersonal experience.

Deborah Hazen's picture

Metacognition and the ecosystem lesson

I want to take another look at the lesson that Moira, Diana and Wil worked on--on the train ride home, I was thinking about a way to make evident metacognition as the lesson proceeds.

I believe that metacognition is something that everyone is doing all the time (as my illustration will hopefully point out). What isn't automatic is student use of the metacognitive process--this is a habit that we teach and hopefully get to run in the background (a delightful soundtrack!).

In the lesson that Moira and Diane presented (thanks for starting this discussion!) they were teaching a science lesson--for the sake of this discussion let's narrow it to the lesson on the ecosystem that they spoke about in class. The three part lesson goes like this:

I. "What are the first three words that come to mind when I say ecosystem."

     Think/pair/share your words

     Write a story about your personal experience with an ecosystem using the words.

    Come up with a class understanding of what an ecosystem is.

  II. "What in your story is congruent with this definition?" or "Analyze your story with this definition in  mind."

     or "What in your story illustrates this definition?"

"Partner up and write a story with your partner's three words."

III.  Do I need to go back through the task to fill in any "blanks" in my understanding?  How might I appy this line of thinking to other content/problems?

Now for imagination time! We are teaching this class to a group of 30, we're going to crawl inside one their heads. The lesson begins, teacher gives the first direction. Sallie Sue (our student with the flip top head) is listening to the directions. She tries to think of the first three words but she is distracted by the two students who are sitting behind her --she doubles her concentration and filters out their voices--her self awareness (I'm getting distracted and I need to focus and ignore them--is metacognition.). She comes up with three words, "green, water, fit." Her partner comes up with, "bugs, plants, water." Upon hearing bugs, Sallie Sue begins thinking about a trip that she took to the Insectarium last year and she starts to think about how her experiences there might help her understand what an ecosystem is. (She is being metacognitive, thinking about her thoughts and how she could use them to advance her understanding of the word ecosystem.)

We could keep analyzing each step of the assignment, but then this post would get really long. What I hope the story so far illustrates is a difference between cognition and metacognition. In metacognition you think about what you know, what you are doing, and what your cognitive and/or affective state is.

The unconscious dialogue that is metacognition is always happening in the background. What we need to do as educators is help students take the time to make this dialogue evident between their cognitive unconscious and their conscious (storyteller for the BBI folks). So, when Sallie Sue registers a distraction in the room, she identifies it, acknowledges that it will get in the way of her learning, and takes steps to proceed in a way that makes learning possible for her--she is thinking about how she thinks. When she flashes to the field trip, AND thinks about how those experiences/thoughts might help her with the current task she is being metacognitive.

So why don't I think that asking questions like "what else do you want to learn about ecosystems?" or "what blanks do I need to go back and fill in?" necessarily trigger metacognition? If I give you the directions to bake a cake and ask you what else you want to know or what blanks you need filled in to feel ready to proceed with the cake baking---You won't necessarily be thinking about your thinking, you might just be engaged in a cognitive activity. Asking how baking powder works in the recipe is a cognitive skill question, not a metacognitive analysis.

Moira Messick's picture

I Can't Get This Out of My Head!

Thanks so much, Deborah, for your insights.  I have been thinking of this afternoon's discussion all evening and trying to come up with a good metacognitive "wrap up" for the lesson.  I suppose our inspiration for that lesson stemmed from Allison's closing remarks which included "you can even apply this type of activity to content."  It really got me wondering about the content-related possibilities and I suppose my own learning objective was to make her presentation tie content and metacognition together (with a stronger focus on content). 

I liked how Diane was able to wrap up part II with actual questions taken directly from last night's reading. 

Here I am now, trying to figure more closing metacognitive questions to be inserted into part III.  What do you think about the following:

"How did storytelling help you to understand the content?"  "Can you think of two more effective ways that you could have learned the material?"   "Why would these modes of teaching enhance your understanding of the topic?"  "Have you ever been presented with a learning activity/method that did not help your comprehension level?  Were you then presented with an alternative lesson that helped you reach the "aha" moment?  Why do you think one mode worked better than another?"  "How can this self-knowledge help you tackle future learning challenges?"

Thanks so much for taking the time to reflect upon our discussion today.

Deborah Hazen's picture

Nice questions

I think your new questions for part III would provide more of an opportunity for student reflection on their metacognition.

In Allison's lesson, had she been working with a less experienced (teaching) crowd or had she stopped after the third question----we might have had a roomful of people who simply produced a narrative, made a list of learner qualities and another list of teacher traits---it was the discussion phase where she was transparent about why we were doing the activity---think about how you learn, think about what you need to learn--- that ensured that we all went on an metacognitive adventure.

Generating the story and list does not necessarily, though certainly can, make you aware of your thinking. Being explicit about it offers an opportunity not only for awareness, but also for application of that awareness to future learning situations.

After the Brain and Behavior Institute (BBI) I am contemplating the difference between metacognition that goes on all the time in the cognitive unconconscious and metacognition that spans the cuc and the storyteller (conscious).I'm thinking that the metacognition in the cuc doesn't necessarily get a story attached that makes it useful for actively using the self knowledge to learn. When it stays in the cuc, we might observe reactions to the situation/stimulus, but we don't necessairly see agency. ??????

Edward Bujak's picture

Allison's presentation

The metacognition presentation/exercise was wonderful.  It is always a refreshing thing to self-reflect on one's own learning in an non-judgemental subconscious way with the narrative.  It made me think about a learning experience I had without categorized it or having it biased by any terminology.  Moving towards generalized terminology from the narrative was a neat way to formalize what we subconsciously feel.  Thinking about how a teacher would foster these learning attributes seems to make sense, but it was very informative.

Brie Stark's picture

I have often doubted about

I have often doubted about how my learning processes are classified -- basically, I've been very unable to classify them.  When we wrote out a story (even a simple one; mine was a story where my dad hit me with a car door because I didn't make my presence known!  Ouch.), we could seriously deduce our learning styles from this.  I deduced that I learned by hands-on experience, learned individually by reflecting later and often needed a teacher to trust me with an individual, difficult task.  Honestly, without having been able to write that story and reflect, as we did earlier, I don't think I could've fully appreciated what I have now deduced.  It was definitely eye-opening and helpful, and I see the many facets of learning that could result and the many facets that teachers are both able to handle and must search to learn to teach.

 

joycetheriot's picture

Allison

Allison did a wonderful job today. I liked the model because it was personal and useful in describing metacognition. She skillfully presented the activity and afterwards created meaning for our own self-reflection. Allison followed through on the next step to help us develop models for use with our own students' journey to self-awareness.

Interesting, productive and useful... can't do better than that!

My only sugestion, get a bigger board or use Chart paper (that has a stiicky side) and have 2 participants write the Learner - Teacher comments then line up the poster papers like columns for better comparison.

Thanks Allison!

Deborah Hazen's picture

Inquiry Learning Format

Inquiry Learning Forum at Indiana University.

It's free, I'm waiting for my membership to be processed (48 hours)--so haven't gotten to play in the site yet.

 

Brie Stark's picture

I too applied!  

I too applied!

 

Stephen Cooney's picture

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.

 

Deborah Hazen's picture

Metacognition Fallout

Great opportunity to be metacognitive about the things we need and the characteristics we look for in teachers as we learn.

How does this fit with our emerging understanding of inquiry learning? The activity this morning led me to think about the difference between an INQUIRY and inquiry activities.

A benefit of inquiry, in my mind, is that it creates an opportunity for teachers and students to treat their understandings skeptically and deepen understanding in an area. Inquiry activities or activities that demonstrate inquiry attributes seem less useful as avenues to confront currently help perspectives and deepen understanding.

What do others think about the differences and usefulness of these two ways of looking at inquiry?

Edward Bujak's picture

Meta- this meta-that

I was familiar about meta-cognition before entering teaching as a second career.  Once I understood what meta-xxx meant it seems to make understanding similar terms easier.  I always felt that reflecting about one's own thinking is good.  I try to encourage and foster the students to think about their own thinking.  It helps each student learn about him/herself, but also helps me learn about the students and adapt the lesson.  I also try to get the students to be critical consumers and producers of the information that they come across.  I also encourage  my students to question (maybe doubt) everything I say.  This way they have to formulate true understaning and lasting meaning.

Metacognition is very open-ended and the results can be all over.  I believe a good teacher will utilize this as valuable input, but it takes a lot of work and time to truly incorporate this feedback.

Jill Bean's picture

Allison's lesson

I had participated in this activity before in my education classes in college.  I always find it powerful, simply because the stories of learning that arise in my head are always examples non-traditional learning.  The activity does help to raise awareness of our own metacognition.  However it was not an exercise in inquiry.  I'm interested in examining an inquiry lesson around metacognition.  What would that look like?

Syreeta Bennett's picture

Metacognition in Students

  1. I first heard of metacognition in Psychology class. I then encountered it in teacher training courses, as they encouraged us to become teachers who foster students awareness and ownership of learning.  Now as a teacher completeing her ninth year, metacognition is not a word I readily use in my everyday vocabulary but I practice it in my classroom. I want my students to think about what works for them and what doesn't.  I want them to think about tools and strategies they need to employ to learn. I want them to become lifelong learners and without self awareness can they?  I believe that inquiry Instruction promptes metacognition. After all it their own questions that drives instruction. It is ther knowledge of  their learning style that allows them to choose the medium in which to show what they learned. In order to develop a classroom of Inquiry and to develop metacognitive skills  a teacher has to build a community of trust and safety. Students have to feel comfortable and safe enough to take risk and take charge of their learning. It requires a teacher to be patient and challenged. A teacher cannot be afraid to give up the reigns and allow the kids to move into the driver seat. It is challenging, but it is rewarding for students and teachers.
  2. I find it interesting that colleges train teachers to use inquiry and to foster metacognition skills in their classrooms, but that school districts don't encourage it.  Philadelphia is so standard driven and test oriented that they make it almost impossible to do inquiry.

 

joycetheriot's picture

Conscious Control

When I think about how much of my day is on autopilot, I begin to wonder about the percentage of time that I am actively aware of my learning. We are exposed to so much information every minute! When I was a child I often was annoyed about the time my parents spent reading, listening or watching the news. Now I find myself doing the same thing and believe that it is the 'right thing' to stay informed. I have the news on in the morning, listen to news on the radio driving to work. I follow up on items of interest through the Internet and read newspapers or Time when I actually have free time! (What would my parents think of me?)

So in terms of metacognition, how much of this is conscious?

How much is affecting my cognitive unconscious in a way that's not constructive?

I know that I try to filter but I wonder what happens to children with no filters?

 

In this way I believe that exposing the process of metacognition and developing strategies to keep (us) them self-aware and reflective is actually a great thing. Engage the conscious (storyteller) to be aware of unconcious learning and perhaps develop the person that you perceive yourself to be - or - want to become... a meeting of 2 minds so to speak.

b

Could this bring balance therefore deep understanding?

Jill Bean's picture

Metacognition

I first encountered metacognition in my education courses in college.  We also talk about it as a staff when we work on curriculum, managment, etc...  Metacognition describes how your conscious thought can actively monitor, strategize, and revise your thinking as you think. 

I don't think that metacognition is directly related to inquiry.  I think metacognition is something valuable for teachers to be aware of, to allow space for, and to teach strategies about.  Allowing space for self-reflection (metacognition) is important for all kinds of approaches to teaching, including inquiry. 

Diedre Bennett's picture

Metacognition

Allison's lesson was very helpful in helping me to really discover how I learn. My story involved learning how to ride a bike.  It was refreshing to discover that the skills I use to learn in class/school were first applied to a non-school activity/environment.  Thinking about what a teacher needs to do to help me learn also allowed me to relfect on my own teaching style.  I discovered that the approach I need from teachers is also the approach I take when teaching.   Allison's lesson would be great to do as part of my school's very first professional development.  My goal would be for our teachers to see themselves as learners and pinpoint how they learn and think about what a teacher's approach needs to be to in order for them to learn and in turn relfect on their own approach to teaching our students and hopefully making adjustments in order to meet our students' needs.

 

Deidre

Geneva Tolliferreo's picture

7/22 AM: Allison Cooke-Sather: My lesson learned...

Lesson learned...my dad would not allow me to take my driving test until he was satisfied that I knew how to drive successfully on the Wissahickon and Lincoln Drives.  So, once I mastered handling his 1974 Buick Electra 225, he cautiously yet willingly began letting me drive on the drives, as thus I was able and allowed to take my driving test.

How I see my parents: as Godly, protective, the authority w/o being authoritative, working, providing, fun, strick, family oriented, independent, ...

How I see myself as a learner in relation to and as a product of my parents:  I had no other choice than to learn because that was my parents expectation for and of me, which they instilled in me to have for and of myself.  I believe I am a life long learner and career education because of the emphasis my parents placed on the value and advantages of Education and the doors a solid education unlocks, allowing the world to unfold to me.

Teachers needs to be for me:  protective, informed, prepared, on point, in charge, assistive, creative, fun, engaging, allowable, transparent, adaptive, supportive, willing to explore and willing to allow me to explore.

My insight to metacognition as a career educator:  many learners learn in many ways.

Stephen Cooney's picture

meta-cognition 4 Q's

 1.  Meta-cognition is central to our school's mission, I've been thinking of it explicitly for 16 years.  In addition it was also an integral part of my training in grad school as I transitioned to a teacher from the construction industry.

 

2.  I define meta-cognition as 'thinking about thinking'; a purposeful awareness of how one learns.  Knowing what works and what does not work.  Being willing to try new techniques to improve understanding.  Knowing what techniques work best in a particular setting/lesson.

Being aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses, using specific techniques to enhance the strengths and shade/minimize the weaknesses.

 

3.  Inquiry Instruction may not be a useful tool for some kids.  We need to identify them and ensure that we meet those kids at an appropriate spot to make sure they are (and feel) included in the lesson.

We need to teach in a multi-sensory mode as much as possible, that includes allowing for a variety of methods for the kids reporting back

We need to give them explicit ideas/information about a variety of aspects of learning and help them find where they fit on a continuum for those specific aspects/skills…

 

4.  Meta-cognition is essential for full engagement between student and teacher to make sure that they are meeting each other at the highest point they can.

 

Follow-up

 

I’m intrigued by the dialogue/discussion that Alison’s lesson created among us.  I think it can be a very useful tool for the teacher to get into a better relationship with their students.  “Be careful what you ask for, you may get it.”

Judith Lucas-Odom's picture

After the Lesson

I do and would continue to use Allison's activity as an opener for my class and as a tool to see what kind of learners they are.  I would also use it  as a map for me to guide how I teach. 

Allison gave a better understanding of an old idea that was naturally engrained in me from birth.

Rachel Roberts's picture

Questions about Meta-cognition

 

  1. Where and in what context have you heard about metacognition? Undergrad/grad school some PD's from the school district.
  2. What is your understanding of metacognition? Thinking about how you are learning.
  3. How, if at all, do you think it relates to Inquiry Instruction? How would it effect lessons and instruction?  What would structures look like that help students build and develop metacognitive skills? It will guide your inquiry instruction to the different styles of your students. Inquiry instruction will be differentiated to meet the needs of your students. The students would do more reflecting about how they learned and communicate what they've learned from others-example: Journal Entries.
  4. Any other thoughts on this topic? None

 

Follow up Questions after the lesson:

  1. What is still unclear about metacognition? Nothing. I enjoyed the discussion today and made connections on how this can be used in the classroom.
  2. What new questions do you have about this topic? None

 

 

 

Geneva Tolliferreo's picture

7/22 AM Observations: Metacognition

I define Metacognition as the active adaptation of what we learn as we learn.

Judith Lucas-Odom's picture

Metacognition part II

Metacognition is a way for people to self discover and understand themselves so they can better adapt to their new situations.  Watch and learn go to this website and view  www.metacafe.com/watch/2707474/metacognition_letter_aprilie/  After you view this think about how different his life/her life could have been it they were taught self awareness, knowing why they do and why they do what they do in school, METACOGNITION IN ACTION!

Kathy Swahn's picture

metacognition

I first heard of metacognition in college but I did not necessarily remember the name, only the practice of. I think it is vitally important that we reflect on our work over and over, consistently and constantly revising. I guess that is what I like about science it is ever changing and constantly in need of updates! It keeps me thinking and changing. I guess my biggest question still is how do we encourage the lazy learner to push themselves to do their best not just stop where they think; you want them to be?

Diane Balanovich's picture

metacognition

I first heard about metacognition in my early years of college. Metacognition to me is when one is attempting to complete a task and they develop a plan, maintatin and monitor that plan, and then evaluate what they have done. This of course happens at a quick rate but, it is the constant questioning on oneself while completing or engaging in a task.  Inquiry and metacognition are linked by the knoweldge of using inforamtion and continually refining the information.   The effect on instruction would lead to studnets who are problem solvers and who are active learners within their environment. It would lead to more interesting and engaging envolvement thoughtout the class. I think that with direct modeling of developing a plan, monitoring, and evaluating  they could develop their metacognative skills to adapt to all situations. Most people self evaluate but maybe in not sure a structured or detailed manner, but developing these skills one would become a better life long learner.

Do you think that posting something like this would be valuable to the students?

Before - When you are developing the plan of action, ask yourself:

  • What in my prior knowledge will help me with this particular task?
  • In what direction do I want my thinking to take me?
  • What should I do first?
  • Why am I reading this selection?
  • How much time do I have to complete the task?

During - When you are maintaining/monitoring the plan of action, ask yourself:

  • How am I doing?
  • Am I on the right track?
  • How should I proceed?
  • What information is important to remember?
  • Should I move in a different direction?
  • Should I adjust the pace depending on the difficulty?
  • What do I need to do if I do not understand?

After - When you are evaluating the plan of action ask yourself:

  • How well did I do?
  • Did my particular course of thinking produce more or less than I had expected?
  • What could I have done differently?
  • How might I apply this line of thinking to other problems?
  • Do I need to go back through the task to fill in any "blanks" in my understanding?

 

Before - When you are developing the plan of action, ask yourself:

 

 

  • What in my prior knowledge will help me with this particular task?
  • In what direction do I want my thinking to take me?
  • What should I do first?
  • Why am I reading this selection?
  • How much time do I have to complete the task?

During - When you are maintaining/monitoring the plan of action, ask yourself:

 

  • How am I doing?
  • Am I on the right track?
  • How should I proceed?
  • What information is important to remember?
  • Should I move in a different direction?
  • Should I adjust the pace depending on the difficulty?
  • What do I need to do if I do not understand?

After - When you are evaluating the plan of action ask yourself:

 

  • How well did I do?
  • Did my particular course of thinking produce more or less than I had expected?
  • What could I have done differently?
  • How might I apply this line of thinking to other problems?
  • Do I need to go back through the task to fill in any "blanks" in my understanding?
Moira Messick's picture

Metacognitive Thoughts

 I first learned about metacognition in graduate school.  We were asked to do a "moon journal" where we recorded nightly thoughts about the everwaxing and waning moon.  I was never really sure where the "moon" came in...I suppose it was just a starting point for our own thought processes.  This is an example of where I would have liked to see a clear objective on a learning goal before or afterhand.  It would have given me a connection between the activity and the end goal.  Anyway, within the moon journal, we thought about our thinking.  It does relate to the Inquiry Institurte in that we are being asked to take the time to meaningfully reflect on our own learning.  This enables us to reveal fallacies in our thinking and determines directions for new growth.  Metacognition helps with more than just content...it defines your learning strengths/tools that you can draw upon to make learning happen. 

There is not necessarily anything still unclear about metacognition for me, I would, however, like to learn more.  Allison's lesson was a wonderful application to my own metacognitive awareness of how I learn.  It did model metacognition in a linear way for me.  I do wonder how I could specifically apply her format to particular content area rather than a philosophy. 

Do I appear to be "unenlightened" because I keep coming back to "core content"? I am really searching for a balance between content and inquiry here.  There just seems to be a disconnect between the two, like there is a missing step needed to marry the best teaching practices to required content.

As always, I would appreciate your feedback.

Rachel Roberts's picture

Meta-cognition

Our discussion this morning was very interesting and eye-opening. I like how we are trying to accomodate each of our students, but what happens when your numbers in the class are 31 or 33? Yes differentiation is necessary...but we need to allow them to find their strategies to become the best learners they can be. Sharing the responsibility for the classroom- I agree...we need support from parents and the community in order to be successful. There are times especially in the inner city where you have no outside supports...which then makes it a difficult task for the student as well as the teacher.

Moira Messick's picture

How global should the goal be?

Should they just be the essential questions or should they go a little deeper for each day/topic?  As long as the students can engage in the activity with a clear purpose in mind to see how the activity is moving toward the learning goal.  it is always good to periodically stop students and ask them to explain why they are completing a particular assignment.   This ensures that they are able to connect the assignment to the objective.

elovejoy's picture

Additionally, I think it is

Additionally, I think it is important to note that not all college classes are large lectures.  I chose a small, liberal arts college for a reason.  More than 85% of my classes are smaller than 20 people and are soley discussion based.  The larger, lecture style classes that I have had were intro level classes, so once students move past that level, they are able to partake in the smaller, discussion based classes.  If I have had a professor that did not give me enough feedback on a paper, project, exam, etc., I (like most other students) have gone to my professor and met with him/her one-on-one.  Even professors that have large, lecture classes are willing to meet with students who are interested in their progress and are motivated to learn.

I think there is a common misconception about college consisting entirely of large, lecture style classes and so I just wanted to share my two cents on my experience.

Diedre Bennett's picture

Choice

Having choices is what allows people to thrive and survive.  If you are only taught one way, then you do not know how to adapt.  What happens when that"one" way runs out, comes to an end or doesn't work..... they sink.

Choices provide you with options, to freestyle, doggy paddle, back stroke or float.

 

Deidre

Judith Lucas-Odom's picture

Metacognition

Metacognition is again a topic that requires a lot of study; it infuses a lot of ways to teach strategies to cope with various situations.  We need to give students ownership, build mental models that can translate into the physical to be more successful.  This is something that we do already in our classroom!

Brie Stark's picture

I find the "preparing

I find the "preparing students for the world" to be a very interesting concept -- and, to me, it has many facets.  Personally, I was prepared by the "listen to your superiors" or "never question authority."  That was the way my high school basically, if even unconsciously, prepared its students.  My parents, though, prepared me by telling me to question everything that I don't understand or that I think can be done better.  So, is there a right way to prepare students for the "real world"?  What is the "real world" that we want to prepare them for: tangible success, desire to learn more, desire to please, etc?  Perhaps if we are preparing them for life-long learning as "reality", as this class has suggested, we should be encouraging the questioning aspect rather than the obeying aspect.  As a sidenote, I don't believe that 'disobeying' necessarily means 'disrespectful.'  I think this is particularly important to encourage in school: questioning respectfully, disagreeing respectfully, arguing with the intention of learning more rather than instigating anger. 

In the past year, I've had 2 out of 8 classes that are lecture style.  My other classes have been discussion/forum based.  Many liberal arts colleges are shifting toward this spectrum of education, which seems to foster the idea of inquiry.

However, it was brought up that the job of teachers is to prepare their students for college 'lectures.'  Are we okay with saying "that's the way it is?"  Do we learn by doing this?  Has society ever created anything new by just saying "that's the way it is?"  Invention doesn't come about from saying that phrase, and neither does innovation.  It seems that, while that is the majority of how it is, that majority is changeable.  We change everyday.  Should we be encouraging students to accept "that's the way it is" or to question and say.. "that's not the only way it can be?"

Jill Bean's picture

College lectures and metacognition

Brie, I also as surprised by the idea that college is dominated by lecture courses.  I have take courses at a range of colleges including Swarthmore, Eastern, Penn State, Penn, and Montgomery County Community College.  I only encountered lecture courses in a few intro courses at Swarthmore and a history course at MCCC.  Otherwise of my courses were mainly seminar format. 

I'm also firmly believe that helping a child be more aware of her metacognition and helping to strengthen her metacognitive strategies will help her if she does face a lecture course.  If learning through lecture is not a strength to her, I hope that this child will be able to recognize that and think about what she needs to do to be successful.  Some examples of her thought process:  Uh-oh, this course seems to be dominated by  boring lectures.  I don't learn well that way.  I need to:

  • really make sure I'm staying focused and monitor my own attention through some cue
  • write down anything that is written on the board
  • take careful notes from what the professor says
  • find a partner to sit with and share notes with
  • read the revelent reading before the class, so that I can follow along easier
  • form a study group to discuss the material
  • bring a tape recorder to class with me
  • doodle, knit, chew gum, etc while in class to give my body some muscular input
  • go to see the professor in her office and ask for . . .
  • look on the internet for a graphic that will help me understand this
  •  

I think metacognition can really empower students and help them actively get what they need to be a successful learner. 

 

Moira Messick's picture

I do not think that

I do not think that acknowledging reality is throwing our hands up and saying "that's the way it is."  Not every teacher/parent/student buys into theories of alternative education.   Even if we exercise these "enlightened" practices in the classroom, don't we have the responsibilty to prepare students for the obstacles they will inevitably face in future? 

Personally, I value inquiry-based education, otherwise I would not be teaching an alternative program.  I just wonder how we treat the transition into more traditional classrooms.  Which is inevitable.

elovejoy's picture

I want to

I want to add to what Brie said...

While preparing for our work this summer, we read a manuscript prepared by Paul Grobstein and Alice Lesnick called "Education as life itself: freedom, integration, and beyond." (see here for exerpts from the manuscript).

When did people start to think that learning ends when you finish your education, and then that the “real world” starts after that?  Brie and I are big promoters of lifelong learning.  Should teachers be preparing students for these lecture style, sink or swim classes, or should professors and teachers change their teaching style?  It seems like people think it is easier to change the students than the teachers, but is that the most effective thing to do?

 

Edward Bujak's picture

preparing stuents for ...

Interesting that you ask if we should be preparing students for ..

I guess I have found that the more advanced the courses are typically more professorial and dogmatic.  Realistically the very advanced courses or the very very advanced colloquium/lectures by leading researchers almost lend appropriately to a pure lecture.

So ... if the students are college bound or beyond ... this format of learning is functional.  I would say it is my job as a teacher to foster this learning style of r those who want to do advanced research.

 

Brie Stark's picture

I think that that is a very

I think that that is a very interesting outlook on what we're preparing students for; I see your reasoning, but I also have a question: should we prepare them for what we know to be out there, so that they know how to handle what is 'probably' going to be there -- or, should we also prepare them for what could happen and prepare them to take advantage of new opportunities?  I find that both could be beneficial.  The question is, then, how do we adequately complete this task when our education system is, as you have said before, circling around lecture-style classrooms?  I find that perhaps we must break free, just as people have before us (modern architects, modern thinkers, etc).

Brie Stark's picture

I also found it interesting

I also found it interesting that we were doing exactly what we discussed shouldn't be encouraged in school: associating 'anger' or 'irritation' with discussion.  Someone said 'we're not disagreeing with you' as if disagreeing holds a negative connotation; I would disagree and I am thankful that there is disagreement.  It is, to me, the fastest way to grow and learn.

Stephen Cooney's picture

 'Conflict' with our

 'Conflict' with our current thoughts/knowledge = improved understanding!

Moira Messick's picture

Question about Objectives

Before we get into metacognition, I have a question that has been bothering me....

Does everyone agree that posting concrete and clear objectives prior to an activity does not refute inquiry goals?  I ask this with the idea that students are able engage in the activity with a clear purpose to allow them to see how the inquiry activity connects to the content.  So, how specific should the objectives be before inquiry begins?

Thanks for your thoughts:)

Edward Bujak's picture

Posting explicit goals .. pro/con

Posting an objective can channel the students inquiry and the activities especially if bound by time.  Total student-based inquiry can be all over the place ... so we as teachers need to direct it.

That being said, one school district I worked at made it mandatory to post objectives for each lesson and it had to list the PA Standards by number and phrase. So in this case, it was very high level, but the students did not care about it.  It sure looks good to the casual observer, but students had only a small idea about the inquiry process in learning the big idea.

I like to put up big ideas we are working on - usually on a side board or wall, and add to it as topics come up.  This keeps the students looking for these big ideas in the next few days of class.  I do not find it stiffling creativity or inquiry.

 

 

Moira Messick's picture

Thanks, can you give me an

Thanks, can you give me an example of the wording in regards to the depth of the learning goal.

Stephen Cooney's picture

 What if you pose it from a

 What if you pose it from a backwards design point of view?  

There is the apocryphal story of the Chem teacher setting off all sorts of explosions, etc at their first lecture, exciting the students, then stating, "now we are going to learn how and why that happened".

Moira Messick's picture

Love that....

...so doing something cool as an attention-grabber and then posting a clear goal?

Stephen Cooney's picture

how about..

 maybe a 'global' goal as opposed to a specific, narrow goal...

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