Research School Network: Bringing a metacognition implementation plan to life! How the principles of metacognition are used in schools

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Bringing a metacognition implementation plan to life!

How the principles of metacognition are used in schools

by Aspirer Research School
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Because the creation of an implementation plan is tricky, at Aspirer, we often get asked for real-life school examples of what implementation looks like. SLT members of the schools in the Aspire Educational Trust have all been working as a group on metacognition: unpicking the theory and discussing how that would translate into practice. Each school is then implementing an aspect of metacognition that suits their current context and their current priorities. Jane Bateman, an Aspirer ELE, Nurture group teacher and Inclusion Manager at Underwood West Academy and Julie White, Vice Principal at The Wilmslow Academy share what it looks like in their schools.

Underwood West Academy

Read how Underwood West are translating the theory of their implementation plan in real life training and in-class strategies.

Metacognition May 1

Firstly, a metacognition implementation plan was completed by the school’s co-ordinators and this was shared at a staff meeting – all staff were made aware of the short, medium, and long-term outcomes and how these will be achieved. Metacognition and self-regulation strategies were explained and modelled to staff and the high impact of using these strategies on children’s resilience and retrieval skills. Resources were shared, such as: the 7 recommendations for Metacognition and self-regulation; How to use Retrieval Practice to Improve Learning and the Retrieval Practice Implementation checklist. Staff were trained in metacognition, retrieval and self-regulation strategies. A shared language was agreed with visuals to ensure consistency of approach through school from reception to year 6.

During the term, Staff have shown a good knowledge and understanding of metacognition, retrieval and self-regulation strategies as evidenced in lesson observations, book reviews and environmental walks. All staff have been observed using visuals and the agreed vocabulary in their teaching.

Good practice has been celebrated at a follow-up staff meeting. Staff shared how they have used Kahoot games and quizzes, Kagan strategies, mini-plenaries, adult modelling of thinking skills and how links to prior learning have been implemented effectively to support the children to see themselves as learners, to know how to learn, and what strategies to use to help them to be successful learners.

Metacognition is now planned as a regular agenda item at staff meetings. This is to ensure that both practice and strategies continue to be embedded. It is also to review the progress children are making as the expectation is, that throughout school, that there will a measurable improvement in the children’s resilience and in the retention of their learning, which will have a positive impact on their academic attainment.

The Wilmslow Academy

Wilmslow Academy have developed an image to support the implementation of metacognitive strategies, here Julie explains more.

Dual coding is generally aimed at improving the acquisition of knowledge by associating an image with the learnt material. Within the EEF document Cognitive Science Approaches in the Classroom: a review of the evidence, July 2021, it is briefly explained with strand 6. Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning and it has huge benefits in reducing cognitive load. Whilst teachers have always used diagrammatic representations within their teaching, at The Wilmslow Academy we have used this principle to hook pupils into retrieval practice.

Having adopted the term bridging back” to verbally cue pupils into independent retrieval practice, we wanted to introduce an image to represent this which could then be used to cue in a range of retrieval activities. The aim was to establish a verbal and non-verbal memory trace linked to a concrete object and pictures generally have a positive impact as a stimulus for recall. Whilst a bridge image initially seemed a good choice, we decided to use a forget-me-not flower: the name itself had strong links to the practical task and forgetting is understood by even the youngest children. Pupil of all ages now recognise the symbol and know what they need to do when they see it.

To further embed this, we have characterised Forget-me-not. We are in the early stages of building a story around this character so that it can model the use of different retrieval strategies. We are using stories because they reduce the cognitive load when trying to recall important information and ours will support both staff and pupils in understanding how, when and why to use the strategies, with each petal being a different aspect of cognitive science.

Metacognition forget me not

Here are just two examples of how leaders, who have attended the same training, have used an evidence-informed approach to implement an element of metacognition that works for their children and their school. It is important that all school leaders use their own personal expertise alongside research evidence to make evidence-informed choices that will work in their schools.

If you would like any help or support with this in your school, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Sarah Izon

Aspirer Research School

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