Structuring student thinking and problem solving by providing an adaptable metacognition framework.

by Jeremy Wagner

Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12


One of the big things that we noticed at my school was that as the demographics were changing, there emerged enormous performance gaps. In order to address it, we adopted the Teacher Advancement Program or TAP.

Using their method of pre-testing, post-testing and closing gaps, we developed a strategy that focused on what we felt was the core of where this problem was coming from: student confidence.

Students felt high levels of stress when it came to the moments when we were measuring their performance. This put them into a tailspin.

In our pre-test, we analyzed what successful kids were doing and compared that to what the less successful kids weren’t doing. It boiled down to metacognition. The kids who were succeeding were showing with clear evidence, how they were thinking across all forms of instruction.

As a result, we focused on developing metacognitive skills for all of our students. We:

-Developed the “I Can” strategy that helps students visualize, connect, and summarize what they are thinking,

-Created a quadrant approach which is an organizer that requires them to inspect, reflect, connect and correct, and

-Compelled the students to slow down and take time to think about what they are doing in a more structured way.

The benefits to this approach are many: confidence increases, stress decreases, and they come to learn that struggle is a good thing that ultimately helps them build the capacity to apply it to problem solving.

About Jeremy Wagner

Jeremy is the 2013 Texas Teacher of the Year and advocates increasing teacher involvement in education policy. When he isn’t traveling or in Austin...

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