Explain It to Your Brain
One creative way for teachers to help to get students engaged in the process of developing effective learning strategies is to apply a metaphor we call “explain it to your brain.” Students who use self-explanation tell themselves what they are thinking and doing when learning. This strategy is closely related to metacognition, a characteristic of successful student learning and professional success across careers.
A favorite way to teach this skill is by modeling self-explanation aloud across contexts in the classroom. For example, when working at the board in math class, you might pose a question like, “How might I solve this algebra problem?” Then you could begin to talk through the problem aloud so that students can learn from your modeling how to engage in self-dialogue when problem solving, reading, or performing other learning tasks. After students have experienced your modeling across various examples, give them opportunities to use this strategy aloud too. Over time, the goal is for students to use this tool silently and independently.
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