Metacognition literally means "big thinking." You are thinking about
thinking. During this process you are examining your brain's processing.
Teachers work to guide students to become more strategic thinkers by
helping them understand the way they are processing information.
Questioning, visualizing, and synthesizing information are all ways that
readers can examine their thinking process. Through scaffolding and
reciprocal teaching, students are able to practice the skills that lead to
these overt acts becoming automatic.
— Fountas and Pinnell, 2000
Learn About Best Practices in Metacognitive Strategies
Monitoring During Reading
Purposes for Teaching Metacognitive Strategies
By practicing and applying metacognitive strategies, students will become
good readers, capable of handling any text across a curriculum.
Because metacognitive strategies appear obvious, some teachers might
believe that students in intermediate grades begin the school year
cognizant of these strategies and experienced in using them. The truth is,
most students are unaware of the metacognitive process. Yet only
through ―thinking about thinking‖ and using metacognitive strategies do
students truly learn. With that in mind, consider the following three main
reasons to teach metacognitive strategies.
1. To develop in students a deeper understanding of text
Good readers know how to use cognitive and metacognitive strategies
together to develop a deeper understanding of a book’s theme or topic.
They learn or ―construct knowledge‖ (using cognitive strategies) through
a variety of methods, and then recognize (using metacognitive strategies)
when they lack understanding and, consequently, choose the right tools
to correct the problem.
2. To take students' thinking to a higher level
For many students, explaining their thought process is a daunting task.
They may think, "How do I explain what I think? I don’t know what to
say. My teacher usually helps me out." These students need opportunities
to take their thinking to a higher level and express themselves clearly.
Small-group activities, especially those with a teacher's guidance, provide
them with the right opportunities.
3. To steer students into adulthood
Once metacognitive strategies are grasped, students will transfer use of
these skills from their school lives to their personal lives and will continue
to apply them as they mature.
Metacognition is a three-part process (Fogarty 1994). To be successful
thinkers, students must:
Develop a plan before reading.
Monitor their understanding of text; use ―fix-up‖ strategies when
meaning breaks down.
Evaluate their thinking after reading.
Good readers plan before reading, and K–2 students must learn the steps
needed to accomplish this task. Through modeling and practice, teach
Think about the text’s topic.
Think about how text features can help in understanding the topic.
Read the title and author, front and back cover blurbs, and table of
Study illustrations, photos, and graphics, including labels and captions.
Skim for boldfaced words, headings and subheadings, and summaries.
Think about what they know, what connections they can make, and
what questions they might want answered.
Think about the way the text might be organized, such as:
cause and effect
compare and contrast
sequence of events
problem and solution
a combination of these text structures
Monitoring During Reading
Good readers take charge of their reading by monitoring their own
comprehension, and K–2 students need direct instruction on how and why
to do this. The first step is recognizing whether or not confusion exists by
asking "Do I understand what I just read? or What does the author really
want me to know about this text?" Readers who take responsibility for
their own comprehension constantly question the text and their reactions
Other ways that readers monitor comprehension during reading are to:
use context clues
use text features
identify text structures
use graphic organizers to pinpoint particular types of text information
write comments or questions on self-stick notes or in the margins
Readers become confused during reading for a variety of reasons (Tovani
The voice inside the reader’s head is not talking to him any longer about
the text. It may simply be reciting the text.
The reader’s mind begins to wander; he is no longer reminding himself
to ―pay attention.‖
The reader can’t remember what has been read.
The reader can’t answer his own questions.
The reader re-encounters a character but does not remember how or
when the character was introduced in the story.
When good readers finish reading, they reflect on the strategies they used
to determine whether their plan worked or whether they should try
something else next time. Because this evaluative component of the
metacognitive process is so valuable, model and practice it with your K–2
students at every opportunity.
Purposes for Teaching Metacogntive Strategies
At first glance, teachers might think that students automatically use
metacognitive strategies. However, when one child was asked what she
was thinking about while reading, she replied, ―I’m not thinking. I’m
reading.‖ Unfortunately, that simple, honest statement is true for
students in all content areas who see reading, writing, math, science, and
social studies as ―subjects‖ rather than opportunities to think and reflect.
Yet only through using metacognitive strategies can they truly learn. With
this thought in mind, let’s look at two compelling reasons to teach
metacognitive strategies in the primary years (Fogarty 1994):
Good readers learn how to use cognitive and metacognitive strategies in
conjunction to develop a deeper understanding of a content-area topic,
a character’s motives, a book’s theme, and the like. They construct
knowledge through a variety of different venues (cognition), and they
identify when they no longer understand and what they can do about
it (metacognition). Therefore, constructing understanding requires
both cognitive and metacogntive elements.
The ultimate goal of strategy instruction is transfer — to be able to use
any strategy at any time and for any purpose. Teaching for
metacognitive strategies assures that students will be able to
successfully use these strategies well into adulthood.
Modeling through think-alouds is the best way to teach all comprehension
strategies. By thinking aloud, teachers show students what good readers
do. Think-alouds can be used during read-alouds and shared reading.
They can also be used during small-group reading to review or reteach a
previously modeled strategy.
Wilhelm (2001) describes a think-aloud as a way of:
creating a record of the strategic decision-making process of going
through a text
reporting everything the reader is aware of noticing, doing, seeing,
feeling, asking, and understanding as he or she reads
talking about the reading strategies being used within the content of the
piece being read
There are multiple ways to conduct think-alouds:
The teacher models the think-aloud while reading aloud, and the
The teacher thinks aloud during shared reading and the students help
Students think aloud during shared reading and the teacher and other
students monitor and help.
The teacher or students do think-alouds in writing on an overhead, with
self-stick notes, or in a journal during shared reading.
Students think aloud in small-group reading and the teacher monitors
Students do think-alouds individually during independent reading using
self-stick notes or a journal and then compare their thoughts with
When introducing a new comprehension strategy, model during readaloud and shared reading by following these steps:
Decide on a strategy to model.
Choose a short text or section of text.
Read the text ahead of time and mark locations where you will stop and
model the strategy.
State your purpose by naming the strategy and explaining what the
focus of your think-alouds will be.
Read the text aloud to students and think aloud at the designated
If you are utilizing a read-aloud, continue in the same way. If you are
conducting a shared reading experience, have students help pinpoint
the words and phrases that help you identify your thinking by
underlining or using self-stick notes.
Reinforce the think-alouds with follow-up lessons in the same text or
with others. (Wilhelm 2001)
The following are a variety of language prompts to use during thinkalouds:
I’m going to read a book about a nonfiction topic, and I really don’t
know much about it. I think I should read slowly. If I still don’t
understand, I may need to reread or skim the text.
I wonder why...
I already know something about this topic. It is...
I know the word __________, but I don’t know what ________ and
I’ve seen this before when I went to...
I see lots of graphics and charts. I’ll need to use those to help me
understand what I’m reading.
Are there any clue words and phrases that might help figure out what
text structure I’m reading?
Before I continue reading, I need to stop and think about what I just
read and make sure I understand it. If I don’t, I need to stop and plan.
The author gives me a picture in my mind when he describes...
What might happen next? Why do I think that?
What was this page about?
Maybe I should reread this part again and look for specific information.
How does the graphic on this page help me understand the text?
Since I don’t understand this word, I may need to...
This wasn’t what I expected. I expected _______ because
What can I write or draw that might help me remember and understand
what I just read?
How well did I read and understand?
What strategies worked well for me?
What strategies did not work for me?
What should I do next time?
Do I need some help for next time?
How will I remember what I read?
Model the metacognitive strategy.
Say: "Have you ever been reading a book and found yourself staring off
into space? Whether you knew it or not, you were probably wondering
about what you read. Often, when you pause in your reading, you find
yourself thinking about a character in the story or an amazing fact about
a topic. You’re revisiting some of the ideas in your reading and asking
yourself what they mean.
"When I get to the end of a book, or even to the end of an important
page, I pause and consider what I’ve just read. Putting the author’s ideas
in my own words helps to fix them in my head. I am monitoring my own
Read aloud a few pages of a big book while students follow along. Try to
anticipate ideas and words in the text that indicate good places to pause.
Stop and think aloud about what the author might be saying.
Have students try the strategy in the same text.
Continue reading the big book, and ask students to think about the topic
as you read. After you are finished, ask students to write or draw in their
reader-response journals, expressing ideas or questions that they have
about what the author was trying to say. After students are finished, ask
them to share their responses and to discuss why these ideas were
important to them as they read.
Have students apply the strategy to another text.
The goal of the lesson is for students to be able to apply what they have
learned to future readings. Ask: "What are we going to do as we read the
next book?" (Think about what we are reading so that we can record our
ideas in our journals.) Have students listen carefully as you read aloud or
conduct another shared reading session. Ask them to record at least one
major idea in their journals and then share their responses in a small
group or with a partner. If students have questions about the text,
encourage other students to suggest answers.
Constructivist teaching methods
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Constructivist teaching is based on constructivist learning theory. Constructivist
teaching is based on the belief that learning occurs as learners are actively involved
in a process of meaning and knowledge construction as opposed to passively
receiving information. Learners are the makers of meaning and knowledge.
Constructivist teaching fosters critical thinking, and creates motivated and
independent learners. This theoretical framework holds that learning always builds
upon knowledge that a student already knows; this prior knowledge is called
a schema. Because all learning is filtered through pre-existing schemata,
constructivists suggest that learning is more effective when a student is actively
engaged in the learning process rather than attempting to receive knowledge
passively. A wide variety of methods claim to be based on constructivist learning
theory. Most of these methods rely on some form of guided discovery where the
teacher avoids most direct instruction and attempts to lead the student through
questions and activities to discover, discuss, appreciate, and verbalize the new
What is integrated teaching?
“An integrated approach allows learners to explore, gather, process, refine and
present information about topics they want to investigate without the constraints
imposed by traditional subject barriers” (Pigdon and Woolley, 1992). An integrated
approach allows students to engage in purposeful, relevant learning.
Integrated learning encourages students to see the interconnectedness and
interrelationships between the curriculum areas. Rather than focusing on learning in
isolated curriculum areas, an integrated program is based on skill development
around a particular theme that is relevant to the children in the class.
“In an integrated curriculum unit all activities contain opportunities for students to
learn more about the content” (Pigdon and Woolley, 1992). Smith and Ellery (1997)
agree with this, saying that children can develop a deeper understanding of content
through a range of purposeful activities.
Integral to the model of integrated learning is the inquiry approach. Students are
active learners who research, interpret, communicate, and process learning to both
others and themselves. Inquiry approaches allow for students to construct meaning
using their prior knowledge on a subject, and new knowledge gained during the