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June 2011

The question for this month's tip was raised in a recent introductory workshop: What is metacognition? How does Literacy Place for the Early Years support metacognition?

Educational research over the last few decades has shown that a critical ingredient to successful learning is metacognition—'thinking about one's thinking'. It consists of monitoring your progress as you learn, and simultaneously making changes and adapting your strategies if you perceive you are not doing well. Activities such as planning how to approach a given learning task, monitoring comprehension, and evaluating progress toward the completion of a task are metacognitive in nature.

As students become more skilled at using metacognitive strategies, they gain confidence and become more independent as learners. Independence leads to ownership as students realize they can pursue their own intellectual needs and discover a world of information at their fingertips. The task of educators is to acknowledge, cultivate, exploit and enhance the metacognitive capabilities of all learners.

The practice of self-assessment fosters the development of metacognitive skills. In LPEY, there are many opportunities for students to self-assess all aspects of literacy learning-knowledge, skills, processes, and attitudes. Check out the following self-assessment tools that assist students in reflecting on their learning.

Where Can I Find It? Example of Self-Assessment Tool
Reading Guide
  • Reading Log
  • Reading Tips Bookmarks for Word Recognition
  • Comprehension Question Bookmarks
  • Discussing My Reading Club (grade 3 only)
  • Writing My Response (grade 3 only)
Writing Guide
- Text-type Studies
–Self-Assessment of Writing (initial/final writing projects)
  • description
  • explanation
  • narrative
  • persuasive
  • procedure
  • retell
  • poetry

You can also ensure that students become more aware of their own learning processes by guiding self-evaluation experiences during individual conferences. The following questions are useful when conferring with a student about reading:

  • Do you feel you made good choices of reading material?
  • Were the texts too hard or too easy for you?
  • Which strategies worked for you as a reader?
  • What might you use again? What might you change next time?
  • What would you do if you did not understand something you were reading? Is there anything else you could do?
  • What texts would you like to read now?
  • What goals have you set for yourself in reading?

You might want to use the 'Self-Monitoring Checklist' found in the Reading Guide to determine each student's ability to check personal strategy use and make adjustments when necessary. At the end of the conference, always leave the student with something to practice until your next meeting. Revisit this goal at the beginning of the next conference.

Happy teaching,
Sue Jackson signature
Sue Jackson
National Literacy Consultant
Scholastic Education Canada