- Bringing Project Based Learning to our Classroom - August 12, 2018
- Keep the Engagement Alive: Start the Year with Purpose - August 5, 2018
- It's Our Fault: A Teacher's Confession - March 18, 2018
- Keeping Your Teaching Real: A Teacher's Role - March 11, 2018
- Sketch Notes in the Elementary Classroom - February 15, 2017
- Teach From the Heart - February 9, 2017
- Who is the Teacher: School or Family? - January 11, 2017
- Dear President Elect Trump, From Your Teachers - November 17, 2016
- Let them Be Children - October 21, 2016
- Print Resources: Great Tools for Kids - October 17, 2016
“The ear of the leader must ring with the voice of the people.” –Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924).
In our state, we test reading, mathematics, and science in fourth grade. I understand and respect a tool that can show learning and growth, comparing students and schools. It is also a philosophical struggle to spend eight days testing students in the pressure cooker of state assessments. Thinking does not feel like thinking.
This year our school has been reading about Habits of Mind. At first I thought, great. Now there will be another thing to squeeze into an already tight schedule. I will have more new resources to find and make. Better laminate everything on the slight chance we continue to talk about this again next year. But as I have read and learned more about this philosophy, I the more I find it rewarding to implement, model, and teach habits of mind to my fourth graders. Metacognition, thinking about your thinking, has become a great discussion point during our state assessment time.
We have had some great conversations about metacognition. Students have begun to realize they should stop and reflect as they work, complete projects, or tackle new and hard activities. “I wrote that down and then knew it was wrong because it did not make sense,” a student commented the other day during math. They had left a place value out in a math problem. Reflection is an important skill and thinking about your thinking is more important than any assessment my students will ever conquer. Here are some activities you can do in the classroom to practice metacognition. I have had students complete them individually during our reading block, but they could be done in many settings and formats.
- Give examples of a character in your book demonstrating strong thinking skills. Reference the page numbers that support these examples.
- Read an article about your brain. Write down what you are thinking as you read.
- Do research about your brain. Make a chart or illustration to explain the different parts of your brain.
- Write about an experience in school where you used metacognition.
- Draw a comic showing someone using metacognition.
- Create a metacognition superhero.
- Create a list of books that have characters that think about their thinking.
- Make a list of things you know and understand. Who could you teach these things to?
- Make a list of things you want to know more about. Where could you find out about these things?
- Research the way another organism thinks. Compare this to the way you think. Include similarities and differences.
Metacognition is knowing about knowing. This is the very essence of classrooms and what our work is about. State assessments are a reality. It is nice to be able to teach my students to think about thinking and watch them apply this skill which will be an important life long trait that will impact their futures. Check out the Habits of Mind website. They have useful tools for teachers, a weekly email, printable pdf items and more. We have a responsibility to teach not only our state standards but important life lessons to our students. What do you think about that?