Metacognition: Tuning in to the little voice inside your head...while reading any books

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SWBAT become aware of their own thinking when applied to any text

Big Idea

Understanding the act of thinking while reading any book


I like to spend a sufficient amount of time on each strategy to allow for an introduction, modeling, scaffolding, independent practice, and reflection. Therefore, I spend approximately 1 week on each strategy and follow a similar instructional routine. This is day 3 of Metacognition Week – Independent Practice. In this lesson, I will give students the opportunity to try keeping track of their own thinking with their own self-selected books. 


10 minutes

Connection: I always start by connecting today’s lesson to something kids have previously learned so that it triggers their schema and background knowledge. Since this is the third day they are learning about metacognition, I make a connection to the scaffolding lesson we did yesterday. I ask students what strategy we are working on this week and wait for them to say metacognition. This time, I want them to remind me what metacognition is, which is being aware of your own thinking; in other words, listening to the little voice inside your head.


Teaching Point: This is when I tell kids explicitly what we will be working on. I say, “Today, I want you to apply metacognition to whatever book you are reading on your own.” I use our current chapter Read Aloud book and model the use of sticky notes to keep track of thoughts. I read an excerpt and when I notice that the little voice inside my head is saying something, I stop and write it on a small sticky note and place it in that spot in the book. For example, if I make a connection to an event in the book, I would write connection on the sticky note. If I had a question about something, I would write a question mark on the sticky note. They don’t need to write full sentences, just notes that will trigger their memory when they refer back to it. The sticky note method is laying the groundwork for teaching students to have meaningful conversations about books. If they can monitor and keep track of their thinking, they will be able to refer back to the sticky notes to guide their conversations with others. Eventually, students will be placed in book clubs with classmates at similar reading levels.


Active Engagement: This is where students get to try out the strategy that I just taught them. I ask them to think about what types of things they might write on their sticky notes. After a minute or two of thinking time, I tell them to turn and talk to their partner to share some ideas.  I give the students a few minutes then call on some to share. Hopefully students will share ideas like connections, predictions, funny parts, confusing parts, etc. I would add any that they don’t mention. (See included resource for more examples)


Link to Ongoing Work: During this portion of the mini-lesson, I give the students a task that they will focus on during Independent Reading time. Now that they are familiar with metacognition, I tell them that during Independent Reading, their job is to keep track of their thinking with sticky notes in any book of their choice.  The day before, they practiced the strategy with text that I chose so today they get an opportunity to apply the strategy to the books that they choose. I expect them to have at least three sticky notes in their books by the end of Independent Reading time. At the end of Reader’s Workshop, they will meet with their assigned reading partner to share their favorite sticky note. I remind them that I will randomly choose a few students to share so that they make sure to complete their task. 


Guided Practice

45 minutes

Transition Time: Every day after the mini-lesson, students get 5 minutes of Prep Time to choose new books (if needed), find a comfy spot, use the bathroom, and anything else they might need to do to prepare for 40 minutes of uninterrupted Independent Reading.

Guided Practice: Today, I will be conferencing with students right at their comfy spots and asking them to show me some of their sticky notes.  Some students may need prompting until they’ve had a little more practice with this concept.  This is also when I could pull students for assessments, one-on-one reading, strategy groups, or guided reading groups.


5 minutes

Closing: At the end of 40 minutes, I remind students that their job during reading time was to mark at least 3 sticky notes in their books to represent their metacognition. Then I ask them to meet with their reading partner to share their favorite. What type of sticky note was it? What was your mind doing most? (making connections, predictions, finding new words, etc.)  Point out that good readers notice all kinds of different things in a book. After partners have had a chance to share with each other, I ask a few students to share with the class. I then tell the class that we will continue our metacognition work tomorrow. They can keep their sticky notes in their books until they have finished them and are ready to return them to the class library. Reader’s Workshop has come to an end so students put their browsing boxes away and make sure the library is neat and organized.