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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Teaching Students Metacognitive Strategies Improves Grades

We are living in an information, distraction-rich time and multitasking seems to be a common way of navigating the complexities of reality.  Our youth have grown up observing their parents juggling multiple responsibilities at one time while they have also been immersed in the modern day influx of technology.  As a result, many young learners have applied their observations to academic endeavors, and homework is often completed while laying prey to constant interruptions from social media, online video chatting, texting, television and more.  Although there is some utility in life to being able to multitask, the learning process is hindered when attention continually shifts.  In contrast, to this multitasking approach to learning is metacognition, and this can play a critical role in successful learning.

How Can Students Learn to Do Schoolwork with Greater Efficiency?
The foundation to instructing students how to maximize their learning potential is teaching them metacognitive strategies.  Metacognition is often described as "thinking about thinking,” and it involves higher order reasoning that actively controls the thought processes engaged in learning. Some other terms that are often used interchangeably with metacognition are self-regulation and executive control.  Planning a learning approach, self-monitoring comprehension, and evaluating one's progress are examples of metacognitive skills.    

Teaching Metacognitive Approaches:
1.     Share your own thought processes aloud, so that students can hear how you think about your own thinking.
2.     Encourage students to focus on one task at a time from beginning to end.
3.     Tell students to remove all distractions when completing schoolwork. 
4.     Teach students to be aware of their own thought processes through mindfulness.  Here is another blog that discusses mindfulness
5.     Instruct students on how to plan and manage their time.  Provide handouts and materials that help them to think through the process.
6.     Ask students to create an after-school routine where they schedule homework time and down time separately.
7.     Urge students to plan their approach, create deadlines, and report their intentions to you or a small group of classmates.
8.     Provide assignments that merely ask students to create a study approach and have them share their ideas with their classmates. 
9.     Encourage students to keep a written log of their approach to your class.  For example, after students get back tests and assignments, ask them to evaluate their approach.  What worked?  What didn’t work?  How can they improve their strategy moving forward?

If you would like ready made checklists, handouts, and assessments that can help your students develop metacognitive skills, check out the many resources available in my publication, Planning, Time Management and Organization for Success: Quick and Easy Approaches to Mastering Executive Functioning Skills for Students.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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