by Guest Blogger Donna Wilson
Everybody makes mistakes—even teachers. Showing your students that
you make mistakes and then demonstrating how you correct them can be an
important way to help them build their problem-solving skills.
effective way of modeling cognitive strategies is to demonstrate to
students how you work through a mistake. Students may giggle when you as
their teacher make a mistake, but you can use such a situation as an
important problem-solving exercise by working toward correcting your
mistake out loud and in full view of your classroom.
Conyers and I discuss the use of metacognition—that is, thinking about
your thinking—as a pathway to becoming functionally smarter in our book,
Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching: Connecting Mind, Brain, and Education Research to Classroom Practice.
As students become more cognitive and able to identify and work through
their own problems, this strategy may be extended to include
student-to-student problem solving aloud.
example, you might summarize how you came to an incorrect prediction
about what was going to happen to a character in a favorite novel. An
example for older students might be to discuss how they felt they were
led to develop an incorrect conclusion about what has really happened in
the news after reading a piece of print from a biased source.
the forefront of research on the positive impact of teaching
metacognition is the clear message that it is important to explicitly
teach, model, encourage, and celebrate the use of cognitive strategies.
Many people assume that children come to school naturally equipped with
the skills needed to learn the lessons put before them.
reality, all students benefit from explicit instruction in learning how
to learn—from struggling students to those who excel in many areas but
may give up when presented with challenging material or who may have a
hard time completing projects.
Explicit teaching in the
area of metacognition is an effective way to differentiate instruction
by identifying the stage of learning where students struggle and
equipping them with strategies they can use in every content area.
Providing opportunities for students to discover and practice using
cognitive strategies also enhances learning motivation and engagement.
teachers model the use of cognitive and metacognitive strategies while
presenting lessons. Thinking aloud while correcting your own mistakes
can be an effective way to guide students to thinking about their own
Feuerstein, R., Falk, L. H., Rand, Y., & Feuerstein, R.S. (2006). Creating and enhancing cognitive modifiability: The Feuerstein instrumental enrichment program, Oakland, CA: ICELP.
M. M., & Denckla, M. B. (2010). The science of education: Informing
teaching and learning through the brain sciences. In Cerebrum 2010: Emerging ideas in brain science (pp. 3-11). Washington, D.C.: Dana Press.