Organizing Thought: A Meta-Cognitive Strategy

Posted on Posted in Freebies, Strategies

Ideas, details, evidence, support, analytical thinking, strategic thinking...these all have one thing in common. They are easier to achieve when students have practice with meta-cognitive skills. Organizing thought is one meta-cognitive skill that can increase learning in any classroom.

John Hattie's research showed high amounts of learning come from organizing thoughts.

Organizing Thought

Through your life and during school you struggled with thoughts. A teacher said something or had you do something that was challenging. You were forging new neuro-pathways. You were organizing thought.

In our classrooms, we can help students learn more, learn deeper, and learn faster. We can accelerate their learning if we help them organize their thoughts.

Main Ideas

Has a student ever struggled to tell what they just read? Even harder, has a student ever struggled to abstract the main idea from a paragraph. Yes, it is really challenging.

Here is a simple way for students to practice organizing their thoughts. You can do this with any topic, in any class: Halloween, Civil War, Making Lunch, Gravity, Junie B. Jones, Slope, Pentatonic Scales, or Cartesian Planes.

Learning how to use meta-cognitive skills with main ideas.

Download the graphic organizer for students.

Topic, Ideas, and Details
Moving from Main ideas to Supporting Details

Going From Topic to Idea

It is as simple as helping students organize topics into ideas into details. Let's pick a topic...Right angles. 

That's a good size topic. There are several ideas related to it. Here's one that has real life application: right angles form the base of almost all buildings. Another could be, right angles create rectangles. Having students think of ideas in a topic is a valuable step in building conceptual understanding.

 

Going From Ideas to Details

 

Next, and probably easier, is moving to details. Let's take the idea that right angles form the base of most buildings. Can you look around the room and find details to support this idea?

The corner of the room is a right angle. The ceiling hits the wall at a right angle. The floor touches the wall at a right angle. Windows are built with right angles. The facts are all around us. And finding supporting details are quick simple when you stop and think about.

Let's give students the opportunity to think about it.

Teaching meta-cognition is not that hard, but it is powerful for learning.

It might seem a little abstract at first, but try it out. Download the graphic organizer. Guide students as they practice this meta-cognitive skill twice a week. Within a month, you will start to see students make more connections in your classroom. Abstract thinking, critical thinking, and conceptual understanding will improve. All by organizing thought into topics, ideas, and details.

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