TMNE10: Metacognitive Wrappers

Context: Teachmeet Northeast took place on Thursday 9th December. Each day I’m blogging about one thing I learned at the event.

This is my final post in the series and, although I did miss one day, I don’t think I’ve done too bad.

Before and after ‘Proper Scrabble’ (see previous post for details) Darren Mead and Fergus Hegarty introduced us to the concept of a metacognitive wrapper. Now that sounds quite a heavy phrase, so lets break it down first.

Meta means ‘about’; Cognition means ‘the process of thought’. So metacognition is thinking about thinking. I understand this to be thinking about what we are learning and how we are learning it, in addition to doing the actual learning planned for that lesson / period of time / topic / etc.

In practice, we were presented with three questions before the activity. I’m afraid my memory has gotten the better of me and while there are a number of research papers on the subject I’m going to misremember / make up the three questions and say “What strategies in Scrabble might help you win?“, “What do you know about pirate lore?” and “How imaginative are you feeling?“.

We then played ‘Proper Scrabble’ (see previous post) and afterwards were asked three similar questions: “What new strategies did you develop?“, “How did your knowledge of pirate lore help you?” and “How important was it to use your imagination?” (I’m pretty sure most of these are fairly accurate, but I know I made the last one up).

What did it mean to me, in practice? It reminded me that the students will succeed far more if they reflect on their learning. Read my first post in the TMNE10 series and see Darren’s definition of learning (recap: it’s ‘change’). The point of having a pre-learning checkpoint and a post-learning checkpoint is to allow the students to recognise that change. To let them see that their thinking process is now slightly altered. To see that they have *learned* something, or to use the new lexicon of choice, so the students can measure their own progress.

I think this stuff is great, although I’ll be honest and say that it makes my head hurt a little. At least at first. I have no doubt it is worth persevering with though.

You can find more excellent stuff from Darren and Fergus at the Pedagogical Purposes blog.

Image attribution: queen of the elves Originally uploaded by @superamit

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