Teaching for Meta-cognition
Adapting some techniques from Special Education makes it easier to teach meta-cognitive tools. Giving feedback has a central role while teaching young students, or the ones with learning disabilities (just imagine how much parents guide toddlers by giving timely feedback, then you will realize the power of it!). Unfortunately we sometimes forget to give the timely and accurate feedback to other students, believing that they have better self-regulatory skills than they actually do. And I am NOT talking about stamps, stickers or other rewards of that type, but giving effective feedback that creates an atmosphere which enhances learning.
Creating a clear daily schedule, informing students about upcoming activities and utilizing some simple planning tools can make a real difference. Verbalizing plans and actions increase the awareness of learning process. Please, also read my notes about teaching for transfer, because the six stage - helper is designed to enhance development of students' meta-cognition during direct teaching.
Brain researchers and some Special Education professionals have conducted interesting researches that are focused to find the causative roles that hinder proper cognitive mechanisms in the brain. These studies give a great deal of information about all learning. One very important part is what they call Executive Functions in our brain. It regulates the ability to plan and carry out our actions and to follow directions. All of these components are extremely important in learning. Our responsibility as teachers is to make it easier for our students to master those skills.
Extremely well structured projects of course helps students learn these important planning skills. But, making students verbalize even small learning assignments helps even more, as it can be used every day. Rubrics are good here, too, but you might want to have your students explain to each other their own planning and learning processes, because their shared experience might give them some new ideas.
Students' self-evaluation plays a vital role in teaching them about meta-cognitive tools, because it makes them aware of their own needs, and allows the development of a realistic self-image as learners and human beings. Please check my notes about self-evaluation!
More about teaching metacognition in the book: