06 Jun 2018

Metacognition: the importance of modelling

Metacognition: the importance of modelling

We have been spending a great deal of time over the past month at Sandringham Research School getting to grips with metacognition and the EEF Guidance Report on Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning in preparation for our twilight workshops on the topic this half term.

The third recommendation the report – Model your own thinking to help pupils develop their metacognitive and cognitive skills – is a recommendation that has already featured heavily in both of our training courses this year. The report suggests that there are three key things to consider in this area:

  • Modelling by the teacher is a cornerstone of effective teaching; revealing the thought processes of an expert learner helps to develop pupils’ metacognitive skills.
  • Teachers should verbalise their metacognitive thinking (‘What do I know about problems like this? What ways of solving them have I used before?’) as they approach and work through a task.
  • Scaffolded tasks, like worked examples, allow pupils to develop their metacognitive and cognitive skills without placing too many demands on their mental resources.

Therefore, as part of our planning for our twilight session this half term, we have been considering what this recommendation looks like in our classrooms. Modelling, in particular, has become embedded in our classroom practice over a number of years with the use of teacher and student-generated models. A recent student survey here highlighted the value students place on such exemplars, and they were particularly keen to see an increased use of ‘Golden Essays’ – each time an essay is marked, one is picked as the best and shared with the rest of the class. This year, I have become a convert to live modelling – writing a paragraph, introduction, conclusion in front of the class, often with them providing ideas as I write. This has been really powerful in highlighting my thought processes to students and showing that writing is not easy!

In Making Every Lesson Count (2015), Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby provide a really useful checklist of questions to help you reflect on your own use of scaffolding and modelling (p270):

Is practical work and other activities carefully modelled?

Are examples of excellent work shared and compared?

Are exemplary examples of subject specific products, including writing, deconstructed with students?

Is subject specific writing then modelled and co-constructed with students?

Does teaching allow critique of models?

Is ‘expert thinking’ modelled by verbalising implicit thought processes?

Is modelling scaffolded to maximise the learning for all students?

Is practice supported by scaffolds and support when necessary?

Are scaffolds and supports removed at the right time to allow for independence?

We are looking forward to sharing more thoughts and ideas on all areas of the Guidance Report in our twilight workshop next week!