Practical Metacognition Examples 

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Practical Metacognition Examples

Expand your teaching skills and improve your pupils' learning outcomes by investing a little time on practical metacognition with these great examples.

We’ve explored how to use metacognition in the classroom in a previous blog with our Senior Business Development Manager, and former Head Teacher Joe Mangan.

Joe now shares with us this fantastic resource laying out practical examples of metacognition in the classroom based on Rosenshine’s Principals.

What is Metacognition?

Metacognition is a way of thinking and reflecting on your own thinking. It’s like being a detective and using clues to figure out how to learn things better. It helps you to understand and remember what you’ve learned, and then use that learning to inform your practice. Find out more here.

Practical Metacognition Examples

Principle of Instruction Example 
Review prior learning at the start Rosenshine suggests spending 5-8 minutes to review previous learning. This can be in the form of: 
– Correcting homework
– Reviewing concept or skills utilised in the previous homework
– Asking students where they struggled
– Reviewing the material where errors were made
– Reviewing material that needs overlearning (i.e. newly acquired skills or information)
– Questioning Peer or self-marking
– Low stress quizzes and games 
Introduce new learning in small stepsOvercome cognitive load issues by presenting information in small steps.  This can be achieved through: 
– Using worked examples. These are a great way for teachers to reduce the load placed on their students’ working memory by showing the steps needed to achieve a particular task. 
– Completion tasks. These are worked examples that are partially completed. Students are therefore forced to apply their knowledge by completing the rest of the task themselves.
– Reduce the amount of information on your slides. Too much information can lead to students remembering redundant information.
– Providing step-by step instructions. This can break down a complicated task. 
Ask lots of questions Rosenshine found that the best teachers asked the most questions and asked students questions about how they got to their answer. The type of questions to ask could include: 
– Pre-questions. These are questions on material students have not yet learned.  They are useful because they allow students to preview the type of material they will learn. Students who were asked pre-questions were able to recall 50% more material than those who had not. 
– Elaborative investigation. These are used after learning has taken place.  It can include questions such as: 
‘Why would this be true?
Why would this not be the case?
‘Why do you think that?
– Self-questioning. Questions such as ‘why does it make sense that…?’ and ‘why is this true?’ 
– Cold calling.  This is when you ask a student a question when their hand isn’t raised. 
Modelling This is showing them how to do it. The teacher describes which steps to take and why. This helps guide students’ learning. 
Guided practice It’s not enough to simply share information with students, they must practice. Practice makes progress! The best teachers break knowledge down into small amounts. They may then work through an example with the students, inviting them out to help with the problem so the rest of the class can see.  Provide students with enough time to ask questions, practise retrieval or get the help they need.  If teachers rush through this process students’ memory retrieval will be impacted.  
Check understanding Take time during the lesson to stop and gauge whether students have understood the concepts covered.  This can be achieved by asking questions about the material covered, ask students to summarise what they have learned so far or ask them to prepare a presentation. 

Having time during the lesson to check understanding can help identify any misconceptions and thus creating a solid foundation to build future learning upon. 
High success rate Rosenshine suggest the optimal success rate is around 80%. This indicates that learning has taken place and students are challenged.  Success rates of 90-100% would suggest that the work is too easy. 
Provide scaffolding for difficult tasks Scaffolding is when teachers provide assistance to help students to achieve mastery of learning material.  Teachers should gradually reduce the level of support and shift the responsibility for learning from the teacher to the student.  It allows students to reach higher levels of understanding than would otherwise be the case. 
Encourage independent practice Although scaffolding is important, it is vital that students are allowed to independently over rehearse information.  By overlearning information, students can recall it automatically and it frees up space in their cognitive load for new learning. 
Weekly and monthly reviews Space out retrieval practice on several occasions over time until mastery is achieved is a process called ‘successive relearning’.  It ensures students relearn information and can recall it automatically. Setting a homework, a monthly reflection task or a quiz are all easy ways of implementing this strategy. 

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