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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wildly Successful Metacognition Lesson

Today my class was featured in an article in The Edmond Sun.  The reporter discussed our growing class brain in her article.  This has prompted questions from other interested teachers, so I’ve decided to give an update. The Edmond Sun article is here: Students Give Thumbs Up for Brain-Based Teaching.  

The Beginning of the Class Brain
The Brain
Earlier this school year I was inspired by one of my BrainSMART classes to create a lesson on metacognition. I did a post about the lesson here: metacognition lesson.  In that lesson, students twisted pipe cleaners together to represent related concepts and subjects.  Next the pipe cleaners were connected to show how information connects in the brain.  It became our class brain!  Our brain has continued to grow all year.  Students love it!

The Update
Once the class brain was constructed and strategically located (see the previous article for the process), we were able to begin adding new connections.  We periodically gather around the brain to reflect on new learning and how it connects to what the students already know.  When a student proposes a new connection, I give the student three pipe cleaners to twist into an axon. I also quickly make a label for it on a small rectangle piece of paper. (Otherwise I forget…oh, the irony!) I fold piece of paper over the completed axon (pipe cleaners) and staple it. Then the new axon is attached to the appropriate connection in the brain.  As each student proposes a new connection, the process repeats itself. 

Some things I have learned:
  • ·      I connect the new axons to the brain myself.  The more complex the brain gets, the more difficult it is for 2nd graders to get into it.  Upper-grade students might not have this issue.
  • ·      I write the labels myself to help me keep track of things.
  • ·      I write the label on both sides of the small paper so it can be seen from more than one viewpoint.  That becomes very important later as the brain gets more complex!
  • ·      Hang the brain low enough where students can interact with it, in a location with no regular traffic.
The Result
The brain today.  It is difficult to see the complexity.
By using this method, we are continually reviewing things learned all year.  For example, when studying China, students made a connection from the invention of paper to an earlier lesson on Sequoyah since Sequoyah invented a writing system for the Cherokee people.  While making connections about the Erie Canal students made a connection from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi.  The length of the Mississippi had them connecting it to the Nile, Amazon, and Yellow Rivers.  They learned about the Amazon and Yellow Rivers earlier in the year, and the Nile in first grade. See the growing connections?

To add to the fun, former students of mine come by frequently to see the brain grow.  They are intrigued by the connections and beg to make their own.  

Finally
This metacognition lesson continues to be wildly successful.  This has provided a fun way to review and solidify learning all year. 


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Friday, February 11, 2011

It's Good Reader Boy! 3:30 Weekdays...

I’ve wanted to come up with a clever way for students to remember their thinking for reading strategies.  A list just seems too boring.  One thing I’ve learned in BrainSMART is to connect information to parts of the body to make it more memorable.  So I came up with this Good Reader Boy poster!
 
The poster connects like this:

Head: Think. Good readers monitor their own thinking while reading.
Eyes: Infer.  Good readers look for clues in their text or their own schema to draw conclusions, make predictions, and more.
Nose: Importance. Good readers sniff out important details and summarize key points.
Mouth: Questions.  Good readers ask questions before, during and after reading.
Heart: Visualize. Good readers love to make brain-movies when reading to fill in details missing from text.
Stomach: Schema.  Good readers are hungry to connect things in their text to what they already know.
Waist: Purpose. Good readers don’t waste time…they choose a purpose for reading and pick the best strategy.
Hands: Synthesize. Good readers can ‘put it all together’ to retell and summarize beyond the basic information.
Knees: Monitor Comprehension.  Good readers know they need to understand text. They know what to do if they don’t understand the text.
Feet: Text Structure.  Good readers have a firm understanding of the elements of a story and use it to help them understand the text.
Is the little fella a little…um…disproportionate? Yes, but I’m going with the “it adds character” excuse!  I can’t wait to share this with the students Monday!





I've had the poster re-designed, and it is for sale here: http://www.fortheloveofteaching.net/p/products.html