Have you been thinking about your thinking?

thinking-cap

Have you been thinking about your thinking?

Metacognition, or thinking about your thinking, is starting to become a large focal point in the educational world. The Common Core State Standards are asking all educators to delve deeper into content and elevate our students’ thinking to a higher level. In order to raise the bar with thinking, educators need to take a step back and assess their students’ thinking process.

 What should they take into consideration? 

Well, the first step to understanding your students’ thinking process, is to figure out how their brain uses and understands logic, rules and concepts. Logic allows a human to produce an inferred result using deductive and/or inductive procedures based on provided information. While the result isn’t always realistic, it is logical and accurate based on the information that’s provided. Rules are a person’s mental parameters that their thought occurs within, as a way to use specific procedures to find a solution or produce new rules. Rules are ‘if this, then that’.  The outcome often results in a specific behavior. Finally, concepts are mental connections that are established between an idea/set of ideas and spoken/written word(s) or image(s). The output often results in a behavior, however, the behavior can vary because the concepts can be applied in more than one way to produce different results. (Thagard, 2012)

The next step in understanding your students’ thinking process, is to learn about how they learn. If a teacher can cater to all of the learning styles of the students in the classroom, the students can learn and retain more. How can you assess your students’ learning styles? This website: http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ilsweb.html has a series of questions that help determine which style they typically use in their learning process. The website is not an end all to learning styles, however, it can help a teacher figure out the best way to deliver information to each individual student.

learningstyles

 How does this translate in a classroom?

If a teacher can understand how a student thinks and learns, it can help them figure out how they arrived at certain conclusions, why they exhibit certain behaviors, why they may not understand certain content, how they learn the best, and how they develop new learning and establish connections to their existing knowledge. This information is invaluable in the classroom, because the teacher can focus more on going in-depth with the content and elevate discussions rather then repeating content. It is also highly critical that all learning styles are addressed because:

1.  Each student learns in a different way, therefore, they need to receive the same material in a variety of ways, so each learning style is addressed.

2.  There is a deficit with one learning style in each of the four categories. Therefore, if the material is presented in such a way that all styles are addressed, the student can build up their weaker learning style in the hopes of becoming more balanced.

3. No matter the learning styles, multiple forms of exposure to content offers the student numerous opportunities to form, develop and store new learning, and to make connections with prior knowledge.

Since our brain’s capacity is so large, and each neuron can make about 1,000 connections, which connects to the synapses which deals with data storage. So even though we might not actively think about using the ‘lesser’ learning style, it is still present in our learning, and stored for future use (Slatester, 2012).

 What does it look like in a 21st century classroom?

All of the students in today’s classroom have grown up using technology, and utilize a variety of technology on a daily basis. So, how can we address all of our students learning needs using technology?

21st_century_classroom

Here are a few apps to try:

 Evernote

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(http://evernote.com/evernote/): This app helps you keep everything in one place. Take notes, record audio, add images, share with others, and sync content between multiple devices.

Why it works: This app incorporates multiple learning styles, which can help reinforce content in multiple ways. Written word, audio, and visual components come together to create one unified resource for students. Not to mention they are interacting directly with the content.

Socrative

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(http://www.socrative.com/): This app can help the teacher quickly gauge if their students are understanding the content, and if they aren’t the teacher can modify their instructional approach.

Why it works: This app helps a teacher engage their students through a variety of educational exercises, but can also take a poll of the class’s understanding. This information can let the teacher know if students are understanding content, and if their individual learning styles are being addressed. If they aren’t, then the teacher can modify the lesson content and teaching methods to accommodate the learning styles of the students in the class.

 Edmodo

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(https://www.edmodo.com/?language=en): This app helps connect teachers and students in a digital classroom environment. It expands the walls of the classroom beyond the physical structure of the school, and provides a variety of tools to engage students, provide and recommend resources, measure performance and personalize in-classroom learning.

Why it works: If a teacher can collect information about individual students, their performance and level of understanding, then it make personalizing their learning experience in the classroom that much easier.

For more information on the Common Core State Standards, you can download the CommonCore app by MasteryConnect for your mobile device.

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Resources:

Slatester. (2012). Explainer: How many megabytes does your brain hold? [Web]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqcGjA1JH50&feature=youtu.be

Thagard, P. “Cognitive science”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2012/entries/cognitive-science/&gt;.

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