Too often we teach students WHAT to think, but not HOW to think. Being a part of the school community, whether it be as an educator or a parent, it is important for us to understand Metacognition and help children utilise it effectively for their learning. In very simple words, Metacognition is being aware of one’s own learning, or thinking about one’s thinking.
Metacognition happens in four main stages. First, we understand the goal of the learning process, then figure out the best strategies for learning and finally assess if the outcome is being met. After each task, reflecting on the outcomes is the final step.
Stage 1- Planning:
Any task we have to do, it is important for us to take time out to plan it. When planning, we are mainly trying to understand our comprehension of the task. It helps to break down the task into further sections where you outline what we know, what information we need to gather and the strategies we want to use to do this task. When a child approaches a task, they should develop the habit of slowing down to plan for it.
Stage 2- Monitoring:
This stage is where we implement the plan. When doing the task, it is important to regularly monitor the progress of the task and make relevant changes to the strategies we use. This is where learners recognise the strategies that work best for them.
Stage 3- Evaluation:
At Nalapad Academy, most tasks go through three stages of evaluation. Evaluation happens through making elaborate checklists, where the learners themselves (with help from the facilitator) outline what they should look for or include in their task. The first stage in evaluation is self-evaluation. With the help of the checklist, the learner can ensure that their work is error-free and has the relevant structure. The next stage is peer-evaluation. This stage is important as the learner can now see the different ways their peers have approached the same task. Finally, the evaluation is done by the facilitator, where any overlooked errors can be corrected. Learners need to be aware of their mistakes, as it is an important precursor to our next stage.
Stage 4- Reflection:
Reflecting on the task is a very important step in completing the task. After feedback is given by the learner’s peer and facilitator, the student reflects on their errors and thinks of ways to avoid the same ones in the next task. The students at Nalapad Academy are also encouraged to identify the strategies that worked for them and recognise other strategies they would like to try in the future tasks.
Today we seek to look at learning as a deep process where we recognise the connections beyond the surface-level understanding that rote learning brings. In order to do this, learners today are being equipped with the knowledge and skills to understand their thinking process and have the autonomy to choose what works for them. The strategies could vary from visual strategies like graphic organisers to mnemonic strategies like VIBGYOR to remember the order of the colours in the rainbow.
One of the strategies that worked well at Nalapad Academy was the Six Thinking Hat activity that was made by Dr. Edward de Bono. In this activity there are six hats that represent different perspectives of thinking: Blue for identifying the process, White for facts, Red for feelings, Yellow for advantages, Black for caution and Green for creativity. When wearing a specific hat, students have to think only what their hat prescribes them to. The facilitators at Nalapad academy understood the importance of using the thinking hats and demonstrated their understanding through role play during the PD session. They have taken back the knowledge to their classrooms and used this strategy.In a class discussion on ‘Should zoos exist’, the student wearing the red hat only shared their feeling with the class, without any rationalization for why they felt that way. The student in the white hat shared some relevant facts about zoos without expressing their opinion. This way, the students could understand the differences between different perspectives that exist when approaching a topic.