Tag Archives: Cognitive science

Simple metacognitive strategies

Closed book/open book

Set an assessment/quiz to support retrieval of content previously taught.  Students divide the page in half and answer first on the left side with no books or notes to support them (you could just use different coloured pens rather than divide the page).  Then allocate another period of time where they can use their books, notes if they wish, to add to their answers.  By using the left-right column method, they are forced not only to spend time retrieving the information (or even just trying – which still benefits memory), but also have a clear record of how easily and accurately they could arrive at correct answers from long-term memory, without consulting external sources. This supports metacognition by building students’ explicit awareness of their level of learning, which can then be used to guide their study.

Questions that could be used during/after an independent task

During:

What am I trying to accomplish?  (This encourages the student to identify the purpose of the activity)

What strategies am I using?  (This requires students to think about what is required of them)

How well am I using the strategies?  (This encourages students to monitor their progress and adapt if necessary)

What else could I do  (When students get stuck, this encourages them to think for themselves!)

After:

What resources have you used in your learning on this topic so far and how useful were they? How else could you use them to support your learning?

How much has today’s learning challenged you? How could you increase the challenge? How would you tackle it?

What skills have you been developing in the lesson so far?

In what contexts outside the classroom might you encounter what we are learning today?

How could what you have learned today be used in other subject areas?

What do you need to do next to make further progress?

Mobilising the evidence

This week’s blog comes for Durrington School which has recently been designated a research school.  Andy Tharby and Shaun Allison who wrote ‘Making Every Lesson Count’ teach there and this book can be borrowed from the staff room.  In the blog, teachers detail how they have put research into practice.  There are some interesting thoughts on retrieval, explicit vocabulary teaching, literacy in geography and effective use of knowledge organisers.

There are lots of interesting links on the site.

https://clasteaching.wordpress.com/2018/01/29/mobilising-the-evidence/

Challenge Grid – Retrieval Practice

Challenge Grid forces students to recall content from the previous lesson to  earlier in the course.   More points are awarded for answering questions from way back than the previous lesson.

This serves to give students feedback on what content they need to be revisiting in their personal study time.

Template below.

Challenge Grid Template

1 Die, 1 Pen – Retrieval Practice

1 die, 1 pen is an activity that requires students to retrieve subject content against the roll of a die.  It encourages students to work quickly but more importantly gives them feedback about content that they do not know.

The rules and an example set of questions can be found below.

1 Die 1 Pen Rules

1 Die 1 Pen Questions

Fish, dog, whale

Thanks to Kal for sharing this tip.

I saw a great activity when observing a trainee teacher yesterday. The activity is to do with recall of prior topics.

As a start activity or “Do It Now” three questions are put on the board as pupils enter:

The FISH question requires pupils to recall something that they were doing last lesson.

The DOG question requires pupils to recall something that they were doing one-two week ago (previous topic).

The WHALE question requires pupils to recall something they were doing a month ago (perhaps two topics ago).

This is a simple method of introducing spaced learning into lessons. Going forward a department could incorporate specific questions into a scheme of work.

Knowledge Organisers

Knowledge organisers were developed and adopted by the famous Michaela Community School, whose motto is ‘Knowledge is Power’.  These have recently become very popular and link both to our focus on linear learning and independent learning.  If you run a google search you will find lots of examples for different subject areas.  I have created one, attached, which I am going to try with my Year 11s to support their revision for mock exams.

On their website in their vision they state:

‘…we have, for too long, been teaching skills and neglecting knowledge. In English, we have taught any novel, or any poem, thinking that the thing that is important is the ‘skill’: of reading, of inferring, of analysing. And yet, novel finished, what have the children learnedDaniel Willingham says that memory is ‘the residue of thought.’ The problem with skills-based lessons is that they don’t require thinking about anything you can commit to memory. Nothing is learned because nothing is being remembered. Over years and years of skills-based teaching, children aren’t actually learning anything. They are simply practising some skills in a near vacuum.

We hugely underestimate how vital knowledge is. Skills-teachers across the land cannot work out why their kids cannot improve their inferences, cannot improve their analysis. Why can’t their ideas about the text just be a bit, well, better?

The children who grow up being taught facts and knowledge will thrive in their national exams. They will use all their background knowledge and cultural literacy to deliver deft insights in glorious prose, and sweep up the top grades with ease. The children taught through skills will improve slowly, painfully, and nowhere near fast enough to compete. They will endure two years of teaching to the test and lose any love of learning they might have gleaned in the previous years.

Is there another way? Of course: teach a knowledge-based curriculum from the very start.’

This link describes the knowledge organisers.

https://pragmaticreform.wordpress.com/2015/03/28/knowledge-organisers/

Teachers prepare these for particular topics and students go away and learn/self-test this as homework, there is a big emphasis on the testing effect.  This is then tested in lessons via starter activities so that teachers can monitor progress.

Are you already using a similar approach?  Have you tried knowledge organisers?  I’d really like to hear about it if you are, perhaps this is something to discuss at one of our next 15 Minute Forums or the T and L group.  Do you think it is ‘spoonfeeding’?  Do you think it is an approach we should adopt?  Do you think students should be creating their own knowledge organisers?

More information can be found here:

https://pragmaticreform.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/a-knowledge-led-school/

https://jlmfl.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/michaela-french-how-we-use-knowledge-organisers/

http://mcsbrent.co.uk/maths-9-03-2016-masses-of-maths-what-should-pupils-learn-by-rote/

And here in a podcast shared by Steven which is very useful https://soundcloud.com/user-907153766/kirb-your-enthusiasm-for-knowledge-organisers-1

KO Muscular System