Quick Wins: Metacognition and Modelling

This blog is part of a series designed to give a short, sharp insight into a pedagogy strategy or technique. Originally these blogs were CPD sessions, delivered by myself to teachers in the school where I work. Over the next few weeks I hope to type up some of these ‘Quick Wins’ briefings into 3-5 minute read blogs.

Metacognition can be thought of as getting students to conciously think about the strategies and thought processes they are using to solve problems or answer questions in class. Accordign to an Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) summary which can be found here, these strategies can help students make up to 7 months additional progress in a single year! This is pretty remarkable, but they also showed that students from a disadvantaged background are least likely to employ these strategies. They also suggest that metacognitive strategies are most effective when used with the most challenging content.

One way to encourage metacognition in your teaching is to use modelling. I like to do this with a straightforward sequence:

  1. Establish the problem – Set a challenging question and explain which strategy you are going to model to the class.
  2. Narrate your thinking – As you perform each step it’s important to not just say what you are doing, but why it’s important that you do it that way.
  3. Be specific – Only model one strategy at a time. Give students time to practise and embed the strategy before showing them another technique.
  4. Remember: I do, We do, You do – Following this order of modellng for yourself, repeating the model with space for the students to share and guide the instruction and finally allowing your class an opportunity to complete several examples of their own.

The way that you model may look different in different subjects so feel free to adapt or change the sequence above so that it fits how you do things. I know that most teachers who read this will probably have strategies that look very similar to the sequence above, if they haven’t already firmly embedded modelling as a technique in their practice. That being said, modelling may look like the following:

  • Worked examples for calculations – Taking a specific method and working through it step by step.
  • Demonstrating a particular practical technique – Show each step of the practical technique or method one at a time before allowing students to have a go themselves.
  • Live writing – On a whiteboard, graphics tablet or visualiser write a paragraph or even a sentence while explaining why you are including certain ideas or word choices.

Included here is the slide deck that I used to present this to my colleagues. If you haven’t already got modelling embedded as part of your repertoir of teaching techniques then hopefully the tips outlined above will give you a starting point. If you already do it, then I hope that this reinforces your good work.

Published by mrgreenw00d

Lead Practitioner in Science, chemistry specialist and Metacognition/Cog Sci nerd.

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