Monday, October 10, 2016

Our Work on Metacognition Is Featured in Education Week

Marcus and I were among a select group of educators whose work and comments were featured in an important multi-part series on the subject of metacogntion in the classroom, which appeared in the popular and highly regarded publication Education Week.

Our comments appear in Part 2 of the five-part series, which gave us the opportunity to share insights into our groundbreaking work on metacognition. In the article, we made the point that teaching for and with metacognition is vital for educators who espouse a growth mindset.

We also explained how the concept of metacognition can be effectively communicated by encouraging students to “drive their brains.” This metaphor is the basis for our latest book, Teaching Students to Drive Their Brains: Metacognitive Strategies, Activities, and Lesson Ideas.

Friday, October 7, 2016

We Talk Metacognition with ASCD on the BAM Radio Network

Marcus and I were pleased to have the opportunity to discuss our latest book, Teaching Students to Drive Their Brain: Metacognitive Strategies, Activities, and Lesson Ideas, on the BAM Radio Network. We were interviewed by Jusmar Maness, principal of Balfour Elementary School in Asheboro, N.C., as part of the ASCD "Learn, Teach, Lead" Radio Program.

The radio program allowed us to explain the concept of metacognition, defined as "thinking about your thinking with the goal of improving learning," and share some practical ways to teach metacognitive strategies in the classroom. On the program, Marcus described metacognition as "the No. 1 attribute of high-performing students," whereas I countered the myth that learning becomes more difficult as we age. In adulthood, I explained, "Life continues to get better as we're able to be metacognitive, conscious and wise about our learning."

Thursday, October 6, 2016

We Encourage Parental Support for Smarter Thinking in Our Latest Edutopia Post

As Marcus and I point out in our latest blog post for Edutopia, students spend much more time outside of school than they do in the classroom. That's why partnering with parents is so important to enhancing a child's executive function and putting them on a path toward smarter thinking.

One of the ongoing and underlying threads in our work is the focus on helping students learn how they can become "the boss of their brains." Parents can help with this endeavor by reinforcing important messages and strategies that help their children take charge of their thinking.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Our Latest Edutopia Post Gives Strategies for Improving Students' Executive Function

Our latest blog post for Edutopia explores the importance of the brain's executive function and describes how teachers can help students direct their thinking and cognitive abilities toward setting goals and planning to achieve them, establishing priorities, getting and staying organized, and focusing attention on the task at hand.

Entitled "Strategies for Students With Scattered Minds," the post describes "workouts"  that allow students to practice pausing, prioritizing, improving their working memory, and mapping their options.

As a former classroom teacher and school psychologist, I worked with many youth who had difficulty with various executive functions, such as the ability to inhibit behavior, initiation and planning behavior, working memory and the ability to selectively maintain attention on information needed to complete a learning task, as well as cognitive flexibility.

Based on this experience, I found that explicit instruction about executive function and how to improve it is especially useful for students with learning challenges.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Cultivating Cognitive Assets in Students

Over the past half-century, psychologists and neuroscientists have learned a great deal about the way our brains work. These discoveries have revolutionized our understanding about how people learn. We now know that academic achievement is greatly influenced by students’ abilities to apply thought processes in a systematic way. In education, terms often used are cognitive strategies (we use the term assets) and metacognition.

We cover this topic extensively in our new book, Teaching Students to Drive Their Brains: Metacognitive Strategies, Activities, and Lesson Ideas. Cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists may use the term executive functions or skills to describe similar functions. For example, educators, psychologists and neuroscientists may all speak of the importance of capacities such as working memory, selective attention, and metacognition with regard to learning.

All three groups of professionals are talking about skills that are linked to the brain's prefrontal region, as well as other areas of the brain depending upon the specific skill. Ongoing research continues to increase our understanding about related structures and functions.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Becoming the Boss of Your Brain: Modeling Metacognition

In the course of our work in the field of teacher education, Marcus and I have had the opportunity to share science along with our frameworks and strategies with some amazing and dedicated teachers!

One such teacher is Diane Dahl. One of the most important things Diane took away from our program was how to teach students how to use higher order thinking skills alongside key content she teaches.

As an example, Diane framed her lesson in a way that second graders discovering how the Chinese invention of paper changed the world spontaneously were able to connect their new knowledge to a previous lesson on Sequoyah’s creation of a writing system for the Cherokee people.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Your Chief Executive Officer Resides in the Brain’s Frontal Lobes

In the corporate world, the chief executive officer of a company is responsible for making the highest-level decisions to ensure a strategic, well-coordinated, and coherent course of action. Without such a leader, the employees in the organization might scatter in a variety of different directions and find themselves at cross-purposes instead of working productively together toward the same goals.

In our new book, Teaching Students to Drive Their Brains: Metacognition Strategies, Activities, and Lesson Ideas, we talk about the importance of executive function, which describes the brain processes and mental faculties involved in goal setting, planning and execution, reasoning, problem solving, working memory, and organization.

We cite the work of Elkhonon Goldberg, who applies the metaphor of a chief executive offer to the brain’s frontal lobes and describes specifically how the prefrontal cortex plays a central role in forming goals and objectives and devising plans of action to obtain these goals.