This year I’m doing something entirely crazy with my AVID class–I’m going (mostly) gradeless! It’s a bit scary, seeing as I have to report grades each six weeks. So, my solution is to have students keep a portfolio, then reflect on their progress and effort each six weeks. It’s not perfect, but we’re all in it together.
That leads me to ask, how do I get a group of squirrely and wonderful 8th graders, and teach them how to reflect on and assess their own learning?
Teach them about metacognition!
I started the school year by having my students learn about their learning through this Metacognition Hyperdoc. Huge shoutout to Hyperdocs for the rad template! I appreciate these templates; they’re a great starting point to plan our learning journey.
I guided my students through the Hyperdoc, and scaffolded quite a bit of work, especially their time management.
Learning to Think about our Thinking
During the Explore phase, I put up a timer for 15 minutes, just for exploring the linked resources. Then, I put up another timer for 5 minutes to allow them to synthesize what they learned into their own definition.
Together, we moved onto the Explain phase, and read the article Metacognition: The Gift That Keeps Giving together. Before we read, we brainstormed strategies that good readers do, then used those strategies when working. Students came up with things like: skim the text to see the structure, including headings and pictures; highlight main ideas; write notes in the margins.
When we read the article, we “talked to the text” (learn more here), as it seemed like our best strategy for practicing metacognition. It felt very natural for us to practice this as we read! I modeled the first few paragraphs, students worked in partners for a couple more paragraphs, then finished by talking to the text on their own, and sharing their notes with another partner.
Go, Learn a Thing!
Finally, we introduced their project in the Apply phase. Students committed to spend a few days learning something completely new to them, and reflecting on their learning process. I borrowed this idea from my friend, Doug Robertson, who does a lengthy Learn a Thing project with his students (scroll through his Twitter & Instagram for pics and info). Together, we created the rubric and set of criteria they would use evaluate their peers’ project.
Students had a blast finding something new to learn! A couple chose to learn magic tricks, one wanted to learn different knot types, and many chose to learn a new language. Our goal wasn’t mastery, but more to feel the feelings of trying something brand-new, and how our brains react to the excitement and challenge.
We all agreed this could be a much longer project! After our short two days, students presented their learning journey (not final result) to a group of 3 peers. Their small audience filled out a peer evaluation (read more here) after the presentation.
I’m grateful we started our school year off talking about metacognition, as it has been an anchor for many of our discussions, goals, and projects throughout the semester!
[And, we were having SO much fun with this, I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures of us in action!]