Instructional Project Metacognition

Lori Pitcock
REED 663
Dr. Pitcher
Fall 2010
Metacognition as a
Comprehension Strategy
O 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
O 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).
O The project was completed with a group of seven year-olds
in second grade at a Title I school.
Research on Metacognition
O Research states that metacognition involves
“active monitoring and consequent regulation
and orchestration of cognitive process to
achieve cognitive goals” (Flavell, 1976, p. 252).
O 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.
O Reading comprehension is an ongoing
process of evolving thinking.
O 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.
O 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
Teaching Metacognition through
Gradual Release of Responsibility
O 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.
O 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.
O 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.
O 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
O I told the children that “thinking about our
thinking” was called metacognition.
O I then continued reading another small
section of the text. This time I would model
my thinking by evolving my previous thinking.
O 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
O 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.
O 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.
O 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.
O 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.
O As the students became more comfortable
with the comprehension strategy of
metacognition, I introduced a graphic
organizer that you see below.
O 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.
O The graphic organizers were then shared
with the class and used by the teacher as
field notes.
O Students made their own graphic organizers
to help them remember metacognition.
Examples of Graphic Organizers
for Metacognition
Child’s Own Example of
O 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.
O 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).
Metacognition Song
Student Work
Student Work
“Reading Salad Mix” Visual
O 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
O 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.
O 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.
Classroom Example
Colleague’s Reaction
O I shared my project with a colleague of the
same grade.
O 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.
O 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.
O She also felt it could be adapted easily for other
leveled students. These are some of her examples.
O Elementary: The students could find other ways to
show their thinking about the text. For example,
through drawings or games.
O Middle School: The students could think about their
thinking through chapter books by creating their own
pictures for the text.
O 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
Second Grade Team Meeting
Metacognition Planning
O 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.
O 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.
O The children were able to make accurate
assumptions about what was about to
happen in the text through their thinking.
O The children were able to ask questions
about the text.
O 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.
O 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.
O 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.
O 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.
O Overall, I learned that the children are able
to “Think about their thinking.”
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
MacGregor, T., (2007). Comprehension Connections:
Bridges to Strategic Reading. New York, NY: