Form-tutors have the privilege of meeting with the same group of students every day: since regular practice is essential in instilling the thinking-habits inherent to metacognition and self-regulated learning, form-tutors are uniquely placed to help foster metacognition and self-regulated learning behaviours.
For those new to the idea of metacognition, metacognition is the cognitive aspect of the self-regulated learning cycle, it refers to knowledge and awareness of thought processes and, in practice, involves the planning, monitoring, evaluating and regulating of thought-processes.
Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) is a more general pedagogical concept: broadly speaking, it refers to learning that is guided by metacognition (thinking about one's thinking), strategic action (planning, monitoring, and evaluating personal progress against a standard), and motivation to learn. In particular, self-regulated learners are aware of their academic strengths and weaknesses, and they have an array of strategies they appropriately apply to tackle the day-to-day challenges of academic tasks.
Self-regulated learners successfully control factors beyond thinking-processes (i.e. beyond metacognition) that enhance their learning-processes: this includes non-cognitive factors such as emotion, mood, or physiological readiness for learning.
This article explores a number of strategies and instructional materials that form-tutors may wish to use in cultivating metacognition and self-regulated learning behaviours.
Five Metacognitive Strategies for Form-Tutors
1. Using a Daily Reflection Journal
You may choose to provide students with a tutor-group journal or diary in which students express reflections about their learning, how to be best prepared for learning, and how to improve their learning strategies.
Perhaps, for example, you could pose a different metacognitive question or set a short mind-mapping/list-making task in the morning sessions you have with your tutees. You can either use an exercise book or workbook fort this approach of a pre-made printable workbook.
We created a printable workbook for form-tutors that facilitates daily metacognitive reflections: ‘The Learning Power Journal’ (downloadable here). It includes short (10 minute) daily reflection activities designed to trigger metacognition, foster self-regulated learning behaviours and boost learning power. The clear structure, variety of activities and engaging design make it ideal for short daily reflections that students can engage with at the start of each school day.
Using The Learning Power Journal is also an ideal solution for educational leadership team members and Heads of Year, who need a visible, regular and well-structured solution to developing metacognition across a large cohort of learners. Site-members can download this resource for free in the Members Area.
Preview of The Learning Power Journal:
2. Quick Discussion & Debate Activities
Simple ‘Think, Pair, Share’ discussions are a straightforward way to get students thinking about their own learning processes, you can download a free ‘Think, Pair, Share’ discussion generator here and a more substantial, premium resource, here.
We’ve also created these free ‘moving debate’ activities that you can try with your students:
a) This 5-10 minute starter-activity encourages metacognition and self-awareness by getting students to evaluate certain claims that appear on the screen. It is an ideal starter activity as it allows students to analyse their readiness to learn. It also contains some basic information about metacognition that students might find useful. [Free Download]
b) This 5-10 minute starter activity helps students to reflect on how lifestyle choices can have a long-term impact on learning-power. Each slide asks a relevant question, students move around the room to indicate their responses: skilful teacher can then use questioning to explore the issues in greater depth. [Free Download]
Premium resources that you can download from our site to facilitate discussions and debates in your form-group meetings you may wish to investigate include:
A preview of the above (premium) discussion & debate activities:
3. Tracking & Monitoring Worksheets
Tracking and monitoring worksheets that refer to the students own learning processes, attitude to learning and readiness for learning are a great way to start the day: they’re a quick way to trigger metacognitive reflection. They offer the advantage of allowing students to evaluate progress (in terms of their approach to learning) and gain a more longitudinal understanding of their learning journey.
We’ve designed some tracking and monitoring worksheets that can help foster regular student-reflection when it comes to metacognition and self-regulated learning. Download a free one here or check out the complete pack of ten here.
Whilst these tracking worksheets were originally designed for use in lessons and with exercise books in mind: form-tutors could have students glue them into their school diaries/journals so that they can be referred to on a regular basis.
A preview of our tracking and monitoring worksheets:
4. Use the Metacognitive Awareness Inventory
You might also want to try using The Metacognitive Awareness Inventory as prompt for metacognitive reflection and discussion. Aside from serving as a great reflection/discussion prompt, collecting data can allow you to objectively monitor the strengths and weaknesses of your tutees when it comes to metacognitive awareness and respond to challenges they face with greater precision.
You can download The Metacognitive Awareness Inventory for free here.
We have made an adapted, student-friendly, version: if you order any of our premium resources with us you will receive a 'Thank You Email' that contains a link so that you can download the Student-Friendly Metacognitive Awareness Checker as a free bonus gift. Site members, who have purchased a full membership-plan, can find this resource in the 'Bonus Gifts' section of The Member's Area.
To find out more about the student-friendly Metacognitive Awareness Inventory please read this article: ‘Check Your Students' Metacognition Levels with Our Student-Friendly Metacognitive Awareness Checker!
You can download The (Regular) Metacognitive Awareness Inventory for free here.
5. Use Metacognition & Self-Regulated Learning Printable Worksheets
We’ve made a free worksheet you can try out here. This mini-worksheet can be given to students during form-time: it's a quick activity that encourages students to become self-aware and to reflect on their current state-of-mind and how it might impact their learning.
If this approach appeals, consider downloading our A4 Printable Metacognition Worksheet Pack (Download Here); a collection of five A4 Metacognition Personal Reflection Worksheets that cover the following topics:
· Thinking About Metacognition
· What Impacts Concentration & Focus
· How to Boost My Memory
· Boosting Learning-Power
· Being an Independent Learner
Likewise, we’ve created a Dedicated Improvement & Reflection Time (DIRT) Worksheet Collection (Download Here)
Providing students with regular opportunities for Dedicated Improvement & Reflection Time (DIRT) is a highly effective metacognitive strategy. This is a large collection of D.I.R.T. (Dedicated Improvement & Reflection Time) worksheets that can be used by all teachers in your school. These worksheets encourage students to: reflect on their progress, establish clear targets for improvement, and create a dialogue both with their teachers and you as a tutor.
This collection features ten different DIRT worksheet formats; perhaps most notable are the four dedicated to metacognitive improvement and reflection. The four topics covered in these metacognitive reflection worksheets are:
Making The Most of my Time
A Letter to Myself
My Strengths & Weaknesses as a Learner
A preview of some of the worksheets we offer:
Hopefully at least one of these metacognitive teaching strategies will appeal to you and you can try one of them out with your tutor-group soon!
Make sure to download all of our free resources both in the ‘Free Downloads Section’ of the site but also the free downloads shared through this blog: subscribing will ensure you don’t miss out on future releases and will also get you a link to our free ‘Growth Mindset Toolkit’. To view all of the free resources shared on the blog click here.