Lori Pitcock REED 663 Dr. Pitcher Fall 2010
Metacognition Lori Pitcock REED 663 Dr. Pitcher Fall 2010
Metacognition as a Comprehension Strategy
Metacognition is “Thinking about your thinking.” (MacGregor, 2007). Thinking while we read is something that we all do. It is the piece of comprehension and understanding that lets us get lost in the text. We can make connections to experiences that make us want to laugh or cry with the characters. The purpose of metacognition is to activate a particular strategy in our inner conversation, such as questioning, connecting, or determining importance, when we read because we are more likely to notice and consider our own thinking, as we go (Harvey & Goudvis, 2007). The project was completed with a group of seven year-olds in second grade at a Title I school.
Research on Metacognition
Research states that metacognition involves “active monitoring and consequent regulation and orchestration of cognitive process to achieve cognitive goals” (Flavell, 1976, p. 252). Metacognition is the active and conscious monitoring, regulation, and orchestration of thought process. Understanding and controlling cognitive process may be one of the most essential skills that teachers can help second language learners, as well as, all students to develop.
Reading comprehension is an ongoing process of evolving thinking.
When readers read they must construct meaning, through a process called an inner conversation with the text. The inner conversations help us, as readers, monitor our comprehension and keep us engaged in the story, concept, information, and ideas, allowing us to build our own understanding as we go. The voice in our head, as we read, is speaking to us. It is a voice that questions, connects, laughs, and cries with the story line.
Teaching Metacognition through Gradual Release of Responsibility
One method of teaching metacognition is to model your own thinking as the teacher. Learners should be taught not only about learning strategies, but also about when to use them and how to use them. I began teaching this strategy to a group of seven year old students through a read aloud. I began by reading a small portion of a book to the children. As I was reading, I would stop and “think to myself,” which was out loud for the children to hear. I would make connections to things I already knew or have read before. I would ask questions of the text. I would also determine importance of materials and monitor my comprehension.
I explained to the children that the pictures can often times give us clues for our thinking about what might happen next or develop an understanding of the text that we might have questioned. I told the children that “thinking about our thinking” was called metacognition. I then continued reading another small section of the text. This time I would model my thinking by evolving my previous thinking.
After modeling how you can change your thinking as you go along, I gradually released responsibility for metacognition. I would read a section of the text and have the children turn to a partner and share their thinking. This allowed them to think about their thinking and a partner’s thinking. I would continue reading and would pause occasionally during the reading of the text in order to allow the children to share with each other their thinking. Some of the thinking was shared with me and I placed it on post-it notes for field notes.
I would continue reading and periodically stopping
I would continue reading and periodically stopping. While stopped I would add my thinking to the post-it notes I was collecting with the students’ thinking. When the story was completely read, I directed the students to write down one thing they were thinking on a post-it note, while I did the same. Next, we compared our thinking (students and teacher). We then shared thinking about the thinking by asking questions of each others’ thinking and evolved our thinking by what was stated on the post-it notes. This allowed us the chance to reinforce the comprehension strategy and assess who still needed assistance.
As the students became more comfortable with the comprehension strategy of metacognition, I introduced a graphic organizer that you see below.
The students then would use this graphic organizer in partners while reading a story together. This would allow them to share their thinking immediately with a partner and gain ideas they might not have thought of. They would also be able to evolve their thinking based on something they missed from the text. The graphic organizers were then shared with the class and used by the teacher as field notes. Students made their own graphic organizers to help them remember metacognition.
Examples of Graphic Organizers for Metacognition
Child’s Own Example of Metacognition
As we progressed, I taught the children a song about metacognition to help them remember their thinking. This song was used as a transition to reading groups and was often heard while the children were independently working on their own thinking. The next logical step would be to have the students work on a another way to track their inner conversations that they design to work best for them. I would also like to have used the metacognition comprehension strategy to work on a “Reading Salad Mix” visual (MacGregor, 2007).
“Reading Salad Mix” Visual
In the “Reading Salad Mix” visual, the students would work in small groups of three or four to read a text. As they were reading, if they thought of something that was not directly stated in the text (inner conversation), they would place a green piece of construction paper in a bowl (lettuce). If they thought of something that was important that was directly stated in the text, they would place a red piece of construction paper in the bowl (tomato).
“Reading Salad Mix” Visual Conclusion
At the end of their reading, the ultimate goal would be to have more lettuce than tomatoes because salads are mostly made of lettuce. It is okay to have a few tomatoes in the salad, but you shouldn’t have all tomatoes. Lettuce makes the base of the salad (inner conversation), and therefore, should have more color in the bowl. A conference would be held with the teacher to explain this concept (above) to the students from their model and would be used to jump start more conversations and thinking.
Colleague’s Reaction I shared my project with a colleague of the same grade. She felt she needed to model more for her students because she has a group of very low readers (below-grade level by more than two years). She found that the activities, including the graphic organizer and the “Reading Salad Mix” visual were very adaptable for her low reader group.
My colleague found the song and the “Reading Salad Mix” activity to really make a connection with the low level readers, more so than the graphic organizer, because it gave them a kinesthetic visual and auditory connection. She also felt it could be adapted easily for other leveled students. These are some of her examples. Elementary: The students could find other ways to show their thinking about the text. For example, through drawings or games. Middle School: The students could think about their thinking through chapter books by creating their own pictures for the text. High School: The students could think about their thinking of the text, especially in different languages, by creating their own inner conversations and connections in a journal to help them understand the text.
Second Grade Team Meeting Metacognition Planning
Conclusion Using gradual release of responsibility to introduce metacognition produced great results. The modeling and song allowed for the students to become quite comfortable with the strategy of thinking about text. The students thinking was very imaginative at many points throughout the thinking process. The way the students could make connections to things they already knew was quite creative and vivid. The children were able to monitor their comprehension while reading through this thinking process. If something did not make sense to them, they knew to reread so that their thinking did make sense.
The children were able to make accurate assumptions about what was about to happen in the text through their thinking. The children were able to ask questions about the text. The children were able to evolve their thinking, if they proved while reading that their original thinking was not accurate. They were also able to ask questions about why their original thinking was not accurate. The children were able to share their thinking with peers and this opened up dialogue and discussions about text, which is how adults discuss text.
I’ve learned that metacognition is a very important comprehension skill that leads into many other comprehension skills such as, making connections, inferring, determining importance, questioning, etc. I’ve learned to start with metacognition as a comprehension strategy taught in future years to better build the other comprehension skills for my students and to build the background for them in this metacognition skill.
Overall, I learned that the children are able to “Think about their thinking.”
References Flavell, J. H. (1976). Metacognitive Aspects of Problem
Solving. In L.B. Resnick (Ed.), The nature of intelligence. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Harvey, S. & Goudvis, A. (2007). Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement. Portland, MA: Stenhouse Publishers. MacGregor, T., (2007). Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading. New York, NY: Heinemann.
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