Monthly Archives: August 2022

Three young students working at a table below a sign that says "KINDNESS"

Teaching Metacognitive Talk in the Classroom

Students are often told, “Complete the assignment independently and quietly,” or “Be quiet. Your peers are trying to focus.”

Encouraging students to think in their heads and work quietly can suggest an air of academic and behavioral success. It also raises a question: Does this silent way of thinking benefit student learning?

Thinking Out Loud

Metacognitive talk is a concept that encourages students to think aloud as they work through their ideas. When students work through the steps of a task out loud, they gain a deeper understanding of their thinking processes.

For students to learn this method of deeper thinking, it is essential to see people modeling the behavior. In the classroom, teachers can show metacognitive talk in action by verbally breaking down a problem into smaller steps.

Asking questions is a vital aspect of metacognitive talk. When teachers model and then explicitly teach how to ask questions and what questions to ask, students can build a “question toolkit” to aid their metacognitive understanding.

Questions to Promote Metacognition

Some questions that could be used are:

  • What previous knowledge do I have on this topic?
  • What am I trying to find out?
  • What do I need to do first?
  • Who could I ask for help?
  • What strategies can I use? (Think about the EF toolkit)
  • What can I do differently next time?

While a classroom full of students talking and exploring their ideas could be perceived as raucous to an outsider, I challenge you to rethink this perception and look closer at the possibilities of creative collaboration and metacognitive talk.

  • Julia Ronkin, SMARTS Student Intern

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Person seated in a brain with a handing reaching down

Promoting Mental Health in the Classroom

ResearchILD is fortunate to host Donna B. Pincus, Ph.D., at our 37th Annual Executive Function Conference, where she will present “Promoting Mental Health in the Classroom: Therapeutic Strategies for Reducing Stress and Anxiety and Enhancing Students’ Self Esteem,” drawing from her expertise as a clinical researcher in psychology and director of the Child and Adolescent Fear and Anxiety Treatment Program (CARD↗(link opens in new tab/window)) at Boston University.

About Dr. Pincus

Concurrent with her role as clinical researcher and director of the Child and Adolescent Fear and Anxiety Treatment Program, Dr. Pincus also serves as Feld Family Professor of Teaching Excellence at Boston University. Dr. Pincus’ research, teaching and practice↗(link opens in new tab/window) focus on the creation of novel approaches to treating child and adolescent anxiety across a variety of settings, including school and child care centers. She has published over a hundred articles on topics surrounding childhood anxiety and created usable tools for those experiencing or supporting someone with anxiety, including guides for therapists, workbooks for teenagers and picture books for children↗.(link opens in new tab/window)

Promoting Mental Health in the Classroom

Dr. Pincus’ decades of experience in addressing child and adolescent anxiety provides her with a wealth of knowledge on practical tools for educators looking to support their students’ mental health. Dr. Pincus will begin her talk by outlining the symptoms and nature of childhood anxiety and related psychopathology, and then share interventions and practices specific to the classroom that educators can implement right away.

Learn More

You can learn more about Dr. Pincus and her work:

  • Visit her personal webpage↗(link opens in new tab/window) and the Child and Adolescent Fear and Anxiety Treatment Program at Boston University’s website↗(link opens in new tab/window).
  • Explore her articles↗(link opens in new tab/window) on her Google Scholar profile and resources↗(link opens in new tab/window) for caregivers.
  • Attend ResearchILD’s 37th Annual Executive Function Conference to hear Dr. Pincus speak about “Promoting Mental Health in the Classroom: Therapeutic Strategies for Reducing Stress and Anxiety and Enhancing Students’ Self Esteem.”

Looking to build your executive function toolkit? Join us for the Executive Function Summer Summit (July 26, July 28, August 2, and August 4) and the SMARTS Executive Function Summer Workshop (August 9, August 11). All summer professional development opportunities are available online via Zoom and through recorded sessions.

  • Taylor McKenna, M.A., M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Assortment of icons representing gears, speech bubbles, and tools

Fixing a Broken Model, Part 2

This student-authored post is part of a series that highlights student perspectives around learning and executive function in the classroom. You can read part 1 of this post here

An article written in the National Library of Medicine says that when dyslexic students are misunderstood, it “leads to a struggle with the teacher, with the parents and with themselves. The result can be a child deemed to be ‘incorrigible,’ a judgment which can further traumatize the individual.” As a student, I’ve always been annoyed by these misconceptions. Throughout my education, my annoyance led to frustration, my frustration led to anger, and my anger led to despair.

A Broken Model

The current educational system is not working, as it is not acknowledging everybody’s differences. The education system needs to be modernized; schools have been using the same model for decades. Most traditional school practices are outdated, not preparing students for modern life. In the words of Sir Kenneth Robinson, an educator known for working to revitalize the education system, “reforming is no use anymore, because that is simply reforming a broken model.”

Solutions

Schools need to work with their students to foster individualism. They need to create a place where students are able to explore what they want to learn in a way that they can learn it. Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses, so why are we torturing people by penalizing them for having weaknesses?

One of the easiest ways teachers can create a productive classroom environment is to engage with students and ask them how they feel. Making sure students feel comfortable interacting with their teacher and advocating for themselves is crucial. But it’s even more important that the teacher uses that information to help a student. If a student is struggling and has a solution, their teachers need to do everything in their power to make sure the student gets what they need.

A Path Forward

It’s becoming accepted that teachers must address all differences to create an optimal classroom environment. To truly welcome diversity, schools must accept diversity of thought. The goal of educational systems should be to create a world where students’ differences aren’t stigmatized but accepted; where it’s understood that everybody’s brain is just as unique as their physical appearance. We all have two eyes, two ears, one nose, and one mouth—and we look unique.

To truly create change, schools need to acknowledge their shortcomings and try to fix them by listening to student voices. By doing this, schools can help students’ individuality become their strength.

  • C. Solomon, Student Contributor

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org