Sunday, January 9, 2011

Making Metacognitive Students

Proficient learners are metacognitive, or aware of their own thinking. Teachers model their own learning processes when introducing learning strategies. Students talk and write about learning through process conferences and discussions. When teachers and students share their cognitive secrets, they are more likely to internalize processes. They become more aware of how learning and comprehending takes place. Metacognition is the key to deep understanding of content and the learning process. Lower elementary students to special needs students to gifted students can all be metacognitive beings and unlock the mysteries of learning.

This year I have tried to make my students more metacognitive in their learning by journaling through blogs. Second semester we will return to one-on-one conferencing because it is a powerful strategy that has been put on the back burner this year for my class. I have seen a dip in the learning curve and miss the personal, one-to-one relationship gained with my students during these conferences. Below are some examples of the questions I asked my students to reflect on at the end of each quarter. I encouraged their honesty and openness in their answers. They began to think about their own thinking and learning. Their open and honest answers revealed insights for me as a teacher to help them in selecting learning activities to match their learning style for future lessons. This reinforced what I have always said - students are very "with-it" when it comes to knowing what they need to learn; we just need to ASK them.

Quarter one metacognitive reflective questions:
a. The activities worked best/least to help me learn my vocabulary were.... because...
b. I prefer to work in a group/independently because...
c. I know I am learning when... because... I know I am not learning when I...
d. Based on my learning style, I will change... or I will do ... the same to maximize my learning process.
e. Other information I would like to share with Señora.

Quarter two metacognitive reflective questions:
a. What I did differently or the same this quarter versus last quarter to improve my learning was...
b. As I worked through the activities in class and at home, I realized .... about myself and how I learn.
c. Reading, writing, listening, and speaking are the 4 main skill sets we have been focusing on in learning a world language. My strength is ... My biggest challenge is ... Next semester I will try to ... to improve this skill.
d. Other information I would like to share with Señora.

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