My favourite metacognitive activity so far

Along with posts about practical ideas there are quite a lot of analytical posts, and now I should say I’m really into analyzing and reflecting and these posts play an important and integral part in my practice. And simply, I love writing and find it helpful for me in terms of professional development. So today my post is analytical again. It is about a thing which is now closely connected to what I usually at the lessons and what I am currently thinking about.

Nowadays me and metacognitive activities walk in couple. I wrote about them twice here – about using post-it notes and methods themselves. Since I’ve analyzed the importance of learner autonomy, I’ve started to gather all possible methods of conducting metacognitive feedback and I succeeded in it. During lesson planning I usually open my post with activities and pick 3-4 of them in order to introduce in class. It depends on a type of lesson (whether is is a revision lesson, or a vocabulary focused one, etc.), also it depends on my understanding of how students will or will not be ready to fulfill these tasks in the end, and it sometimes depends on what I personally think will be important for them to reflect on. Having tried a lot of these activities for the last 2 months, now I have my number one. Here goes:

Ask your students to write 3-5 new words or word combinations they’ve learned at the lesson and share in pairs.

I usually ask students to use post-it notes for this activity. Firstly, after the lesson I can have all of them stuck on one place, on the wall in the classroom or on my notebook (if they are supposed to be kind of take-away for me). Secondly, post-it notes deserve the best prize ever for being democratic and handy in terms of technology used it class.

What do I get by using this activity? To begin with, this activity allows me to use it twice, the second time – at the next lesson. I ask students to write 3-5 words they remember from the previous lesson. Sometimes they write the same words, sometimes not, but all the same after that I would show them their initial post-it note and they compare their answers. One more upside: I see how students are grateful for their memory and for the activity itself allowing them to raise their self-confidence in language learning.

Here’s the example of using post-it notes with a task to write 3 adjectives to describe customer service. This time I took it home to analyze and tomorrow I’m going to show them to students in the beginning of the lesson.

IMG_1362

So, today’s post is analytical, quite short and not very informative. As for me, it is one of the insights into teaching practice, and for me it’s incredibly relevant today.

Thanks for reading. Have a nice working week!

Ways of conducting metacognitive feedback

metacognitive

Source: http://www.uc.rnu.tn/formdev/formulaire/pers.jpg

It is very important to wrap up a lesson in a right and effective way. I should admit, many moons ago I was a teacher who in the end of the lesson just waved good-bye and was happy to end up a lesson with it. I had never been thinking about anything special and much more interesting for my students¸ though I’d always understood its importance and value.

Metacognitive feedback stage is a stage when the lesson is actually finished and a teacher asks his students about the results of the lesson. Was it interesting for them to participate? Was the material interesting or boring? Was there something they would like to change or improve? There are lots of questions, and my very first post on this blog was about using post-it ® notes for Metacognitive Feedback. It happened because my experience allowed me to write and to share with others, and that means that I’d been trying many ways of doing it before. Today I’m going to collect all thoughts and ideas on this topic in one post. I hope it will be useful somehow. All tips are supposed to be used at the end of the lesson. All the information the teacher takes from students he can use to reflect on his practice and a lesson itself, also he can plan his future lessons and have a better understanding of strengths and weaknesses of his students.

The following ideas reflect my own practice and also practical ideas of my Spanish colleagues and authors of Spanish textbooks where self-evaluation is an important part of the lesson and should never be underestimated.

  1. Teacher asks students to write down 5-10 new words and combinations they learnt at the lesson.
  1. Teacher asks students to complete a small questionnaire with only one question:

This lesson was:

a) very rapid

b) boring

c) interesting

d) easy

e) difficult

  1. Teacher asks students to classify different types of exercises they did at the lesson and say which of them they found interesting / boring / favourite / difficult / thought-provoking. Exercises could be classified, for instance, as filling the gaps, answering questions, talking in pairs, looking out for some specific information in the text, listening, reading, etc. Teacher helps students to classify them.
  1. After classifying all exercises students can label them with one-two descriptions: the most interesting, the most confusing, the most productive, the most boring.
  1. Also as one of the alternatives of revision, students are asked to write 3-5 new words (verbs, collocations) from previous unit, or units.
  1. T asks students to analyze their further English practice. They can answer the question: what sort of things are you going to use for better learning? Students are offered some answers, like in a questionnaire, for instance: I have to write much more; I have to do much more grammar; I have to listen to TV programs, podcasts, radio, etc.; I have to read more and others.
  1. A nice idea for revision. Students are given worksheets with a table and complete it:
I’ve revised… I’ve understood…. I have to pay much more attention to…. Other comments
  1. Also there are several ways of self-evaluation for students. They are given a questionnaire and tick answers closer to them:
I have to improve… a)   My speech

b)  My written speech

c)   My listening comprehension

d)  My reading comprehension

I’m evaluating my process of studying… a)    I’m satisfied

b)   I’m content

c)    I have to improve my skills

d)   There are lots of things that I don’t understand

  1. Teacher asks students to write answers to these questions: a) What have we done at the lesson? ; b) I’ve had difficulties with___________; c) I’ve improved my skills ____________.
  2. Teacher asks students to answer the questions: which difficulties have you faced whereas studying this unit? (the answers possible are: difficulties with grammar, with reading, with listening and others.
  3. Teacher asks students to answer about new words or word combinations. What was the most difficult word to memorize? The easiest?
  4. In modern coursebooks there are a great amount of really informative texts. Teacher is supposed to ask his students about the text: what interesting information have you found out? What surprised you most? Which facts do you find most interesting?
  5. It is a nice idea for students to reflect, what kind of tasks they did on their own and which in groups of with a partner. Teacher can ask students about it. After that students can answer the question: was in easier for you to work on your own or in a group? Also as an alternative, Teacher can ask students to categorize exercises that are easier to do with a partner and that are easier to do alone.
  6. Teacher asks students to track the difference between two languages when they study grammar. Students try to find similarities and differences in two tenses, in ways of forming new words and in other grammar phenomena.
  7. When a class encounters with a text, after reading Teacher can ask his students: what kind of text do you like read most? The answers possible are: literary, newspaper article, letters, official documents, scientific texts and others. By gathering feedback from students Teacher can prepare more interesting texts for them.

Personally I’ve tried only quite a few of these activities with my students. The point is that there are lots of ways and while lesson planning I look at my notes and try to pick something that possibly will be helpful for my students after the lesson. And try it. My personal tip for teachers is to pick one every new lesson. Firstly, it’ll help you to have more feedback from your students, and secondly, it’ll help to reflect, to analyze your lesson, to prepare for the new one.

A teacher is free in his choice of conducting this stage both with using notes or just letting students discuss lesson outcome in pairs. The thing is that after that stage students become more aware of why they attend lessons and more confident as well, they learn to analyze and the teacher is a person who helps them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Post-It Notes for Metacognitive Feedback

The idea of Metacognitive Feedback is pretty clear for those who strive for excellence in improving their teaching skills. From the point of view of some English teachers, it is probably the most important part of the lesson and its value should never be underestimated. The ways of conducting it are different. My way which has recently been used and approved goes along with using post-it notes. Now I am going to explain how it works.

In the end of the lesson the teacher generally asks his or her students about the lesson: how it worked, what was new and useful, what they liked and did not like about the lesson. Sometimes students express what they want to say orally, and again, the way they do it can vary from lesson to lesson. Say, on the one hand, you ask students to discuss all the questions in pairs or in small groups, on the other hand, each opinion is extremely useful for the teacher and he or she wants to listen to each student’s opinion and make notes. In this case each student takes some seconds to say what he wants. Taking into consideration the fact that it takes a long time for someone to formulate their ideas and express their thoughts, why not ask students to write them first and then to express? For those purposes I usually use post-it notes. They are very convenient to use, rather democratic and are easily accepted by students as a form of giving feedback to the teacher. The idea is simple: you ask students to write their thoughts about the lesson on small sheets of paper. They can categorize their thoughts making a table if they want, or simply using different colors for answering different questions. If a student answer the question what he liked about the lesson, let him use a green paper. If he wants to write about what he did not like, he generally uses a red sheet of paper.

What do I do with these notes after the lesson? With a small size, a post-it note can be stuck on the board or on the wall, reds to reds, greens to greens. It is a nice visual expression of students’ thoughts and opinions. I don’t finish my lesson until I look at all these sheets of paper and analyze my lesson. These notes help me to reflect on the lesson and be prepared for writing a plan for the further lessons.

I am looking forward to your comments.

Thank you.