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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Metacognition and Analogy?

Earlier this morning I published a post on my blog Assessment and Instruction.  In the post, I shared my reflections and connections I developed during my jury duty last week. Here is the part of the article I want to focus on.

The courtroom was organized with the judge (on a raised platform) at the front of the room while the perspective jurors were seated lower and facing the judge.  While both superior court judges were pleasant, the clerks, marshalls, etc. made it clear that we were to follow rules, exactly - right down to receiving permission to use the restrooms as well as dismissal for lunch depending on the work load.
While, as an adult, I understood the reason for all of this, I was not happy with the level of control - and am sure students must feel this way at some point.

The selection process involved the judge presenting defendants, stating the crime, listing the witnesses and then asking jurors questions.  Of course we were all sworn in and answered with the complete truth.  For purposes of time, we were asked to answer just what we were asked.  As we moved around the room, I could see the anxiety from those who:  gave the "wrong" answers by telling more or answering in an incorrect order, those who felt uncomfortable standing to say they did not feel they could be impartial, and  those who wanted to explain.  For instance, one juror commented, "They asked how many collisions I had been involved in and I answered 6.  They must think I am a terrible driver, but I was rear ended 4 times."   How many of our kids feel like this every time they take an assessment and how many would like to have the opportunity to answer in a comprehensive way what their thinking process was?

However, one of the most powerful decisions of the day, was the exclusion of the final jurors.  From a pool of 20, 15 were selected.  The 5 cut went away wondering what was the problem with them - especially since a number of jurors were selected for several trials.  How often is this same process repeated in our school systems, based on assessment?  How can we expect students to handle this when adults have difficulty?  We talk heterogeneous, but we assess with standards that create an elite.

This experience made me think about the value of connections and how they might lead to analogies/metaphors.  Vocabulary research, notably Marazno's, has supported the use of this higher level thinking strategy to teach comprehension for some time. 

Two areas of instruction I want to think about.
  1. Do teachers need to develop students' awareness of their emotional responses (Costa argues emotional meta-cognition) before they can apply that understanding to an analogy?  Do they need to be able to identify in order to generalize?
  2. How early do teachers need to begin to have students make meaningful connections and comparisons?
Atwell, has addressed the need for us to help students make meaningful connections in order to improve comprehension.  I am thinking we need to follow up those types of connections with an explanation of the child's rationale and perhaps scaffolding from the teacher by restating the connection as a generalization.

For example, For instance, one juror commented, "They asked how many collisions I had been involved in and I answered 6.  They must think I am a terrible driver, but I was rear ended 4 times."
Teacher: You don't like it when you can not explain your answer to others and they might think badly of you.
Would this help the students apply this to other situations and then to analogies? 

ASCD has recently advertised a new book on Analogy and Metaphors.

I am waiting for my copy!

Please share your thoughts under comments:)

Talk to you soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now. Keep it up!
And according to this article, I totally agree with your opinion, but only this time! :)