April 2019 Blog
This month, I am very privileged to have a guest writer for the teaching and learning blog, as Carl Jones-Taylor has stepped into my shoes and has written the blog for April. As you all know, Carl is our assistant Head of House and also a fine tutor and is presently studying for his master’s qualification. Carl has a real passion for developing metacognition within Crookhorn and this month’s blog describes what he has learnt so far and some of the key aspects he has brought into his own teaching to help to improve his students learning habits. Carl, the floor is yours…
Metacognition is defined as “higher-order thinking that enables understanding, analysis, and control of one’s cognitive processes, especially when engaged in learning.”
Metacognition is unpicking the process with the students of what they are doing and why they are doing it.
When I first started looking at Metacognition and what it entailed, I spent a long time trawling through various websites looking for something that would fit. Eventually, I decided to use the Education Endowment Foundation. This was for a number of reasons. This organisation was established to provide validity and reliability to research carried out in education. If I was going to find something it needed to be worthwhile and valid. They claim that: ‘Metacognition and self-regulation approaches have consistently high levels of impact, with pupils making an average of seven months’ additional progress.’ As a concept, this can be applied to any subject, any lesson and even added to our MTPs. Taking it even further, the students can then start making cross-curricular links. The second reason I chose this variation was the simplicity of the process. Trying to encourage disadvantaged students to invest their time in anything is challenging so the simple nature of this version helps. The following diagram helps really understand how metacognition should be used with students in the classroom and how we can get students to really evaluate, plan and monitor their own work.
The final reason for this decision was that the cyclical process means that the students don’t just stop once they have completed a task or topic. The whole thing is not a linear process that stops once they have ‘done it’. It encourages them to revisit the skills or knowledge, especially as part of a spiral curriculum. I have used this structure in a lesson with Year 7. All of them could tell me when they had previously attempted a similar task before immediately opening their books to find it. They were then able to tell me what worked last time and what they need to work on. They don’t have a teacher telling them everything in an exam; they need to be able to think for themselves. Resilience and flexibility can be developed by them having to think for themselves whilst making the links between prior learning and what they are doing now.
One of the most important aspects of this strategy is the teacher modelling how to use this structure. My tutor group have seen me attempting science and maths explaining my thought processes as I go. Explicitly teaching how to use this method is also essential as it demonstrates the necessary and appropriate level of dialogue expected of the student.
It takes time for these skills to embed. Metacognition is not a quick or instant fix. It is a strategy that needs to be developed over time to ensure the students can use it naturally becoming part of their thought process when faced with any task.
I want to thank Carl for writing this extremely interesting blog and I know he will be highly involved with Dave Lemon in extending the use of the metacognition strategies within tutor time which I truly believe will help develop the Crookhorn learner for years to come. If anyone else is keen to write a guest blog on an area of teaching and learning please do contact me as I know there is so much expertise and passion within our teaching staff on different topics that we would all find interesting, especially after all the educational reading done recently in staff training.