Metacognition: Learning about Learning


Transcript Provided by YouTube:

00:00
This podcast differs from the other podcasts that I’ve done for two reasons.
00:05
Number one I’m going to be using prezi in this. Prezi is a presentation tool. You can
00:10
find it at prezi.com. And what it allows you to do is to create these really cool flash
00:15
based presentations that aren’t linear. In other words it’s not like a Keynote or a PowerPoint
00:21
where you have to go from one slide to the next. You can actually zoom around. And so
00:24
that will make sense. The second reason why it’s different than most of the podcasts I
00:28
do is that it’s not about content. It’s about learning. And what I’m finding this year is
00:33
that I’m getting way more questions from students about how do I learn or how do I learn correctly
00:39
or how do I learn different or I’m trying to learn and it’s just not working out. So
00:43
these are some tips that I think could help. I think it’s a good sign that students are
00:46
actually asking me how they learn. I think we’re seeing a big change in that in education
00:51
where students are starting to realize it’s actually up to you to figure out how to learn.
00:56
And teachers are there to help. But it’s not their responsibility to make sure that you
01:00
get it. And so those are kind of the two things. I’d love to get comments though on any of
01:05
this. And so I’ve kind of chosen 10 things that I think are important. And so we’ll zoom
01:10
around to those. What we’re dealing with today is something called metacognition. Metacognition
01:15
essentially means that it’s about thinking about thinking. Or learning about learning
01:20
is a better way to think about that. And so I’ve got a big brain. And for those of you
01:25
who are visual, this will be helpful. You can kind of remember some of it just from
01:29
where things are placed inside here. I’ll also, since this is a prezi, I’ll put the
01:34
web address for this prezi right here. I don’t know if my fingers are in the right spot.
01:39
And so you should be able to go view it and then kind of step through it on your own.
01:42
So without further ado, here we go. This in my number one first. That’s the idea that
01:47
you need to be honest and you need to be honest with yourself. And so I’ve got this great
01:51
M.C. Asher picture. And so what I mean be honest is that you have to be honest with
01:57
yourself. In other words, are you learning the material or are you not? And you have
02:01
to be the judge of that. Now the best way for me to see if students are learning what
02:07
we’re trying to learn, are what I’m trying to teach better, is if they can describe to
02:11
me how it works. In other words if I were to say how does a toaster work? A student
02:18
who knows a little bit about a toaster can say that you put bread in it. You push down
02:22
a little knob. And then it pops up. And then you have toast. And that would be kind of
02:26
factual recall about a toaster. But if you could describe it more specifically to me
02:32
out loud. Not just saying that I read about a toaster but saying a toaster works like
02:36
this. You put the bread in the slot. You push it down. It’s got high resistance coils that
02:40
go through. It heats up as those electrons try to push through. And that heats up the
02:44
toast. There’s a bimetallic strip in there with two types of metal that bend as it gets
02:48
hotter. And eventually it trips it. And then eventually the toast comes up. And that’s
02:52
why you can just push the toast down again. It will make that rattling kind of noise.
02:56
At least on older toasters. Now if you could say that then you have a really conceptual
03:00
understanding. But you’re not there unless you can describe that to somebody. It’s impossible
03:05
for me to do that now in the classroom because I’ve got 30 kids in each class. And so you
03:10
have to kind of find a way to do that. You have to talk to somebody and try to explain
03:13
it to them. My wife actually has to put up with that. I’ll talk through ideas with her
03:19
and she can ask me questions about it. She doesn’t have to know what I’m talking about.
03:23
She just has to listen. So that’s helpful. Next tip is the idea that you need to start
03:27
early. In other words. If I could give you one tip that I learned in college, it’s read
03:31
ahead of your teacher. If you can stay ahead of the teacher then you’re going to do well.
03:34
Let me give you an example of this. I started posting these podcasts for AP Biology last
03:40
spring. And so if you look on this chart you can see how many are viewed each day of the
03:44
videos. Now. This is like where we are kind of in October. But if you look back here.
03:50
Here’s when we had the AP Biology test. And so the AP Biology test which was this day.
03:55
And the videos were viewed 1200 times, something like that the day before. Now I don’t think
03:59
that was really helpful. In other words learning, you can’t do that the night before. And you
04:04
can’t cram the night before the test. And so you have to start early. And you have to
04:07
stay ahead of the teacher. In other words you can’t ask good questions if you’re reading
04:11
it after they’ve talked about it in class. So start early. It’s either watching podcasts
04:16
or reading the book. Next one is the idea to engage. And in class I need to physically
04:22
engage. What does that mean? It means that you’re paying attention in class. You’re letting
04:27
the teacher know that you’re interested in what they’re talking about. I can quickly
04:31
scan around the room and I can see which of my students are serious about learning. And
04:35
those are the ones looking at me or giving me direct eye contact. And so if you, even
04:40
if you have to fake it for awhile, if you give them direct eye contact. If you’re sitting
04:44
upright. If you’re asking questions. All of the sudden you’ll find that you’re engaging
04:49
in the material. And so you just have to fake yourself into doing it for awhile. It’s just
04:53
like smiling. If you can smile. Force yourself to smile, eventually you actually start to
04:58
feel a little bit happier. And so engagement is the same way. And teachers pick up on that.
05:03
They pick up on what students are actually paying attention to them and they’ll give
05:06
them more feedback. And they’ll give them more content. Also sitting through a lecture
05:11
can be really boring. But if you’re forming a question in your mind as your listening
05:15
to that lecture, and then you ask it, it really keeps you alert. And it also, I mean it heightens
05:21
everything inside you. And so you’re more excited about the content. And so engage.
05:26
Give eye contact. Be serious about your class. If you’re interested in learning. Next one
05:31
is the idea to teach. In other words you really won’t learn material until you have to teach
05:36
it to somebody else. An example of that, I never learned biology, I mean I was a biology
05:42
major in college, I never truly learned biology, molecular biology, even natural selection
05:49
for that matter until I started teaching it in high school. And so you have to teach.
05:52
An example of that is in Wikipedia. Why do people give to Wikipedia? Why do they give
05:57
knowledge to Wikipedia? They’re not doing it just to help Wikipedia. They’re doing it
06:01
to help themselves. And so you can teach by just talking to your mom and describing how
06:06
it works. Or talking to your spouse or whatever. But you can also do that by creating a wiki
06:12
or creating a document where you become an expert on it. And then you have to explain
06:16
that to people. Okay next idea is to study often. This is a wonderful curve. It’s called
06:22
the forgetting curve. And so if you look right here this is where you get new information.
06:27
And this is how long it takes for you to forget it. Now what we’ve found is that if you can
06:33
get exposed to that the next day, then you can bump up your forgetting curve. And so
06:39
you really wouldn’t have to see that for another few days, which would bump it up again. And
06:42
then you can eventually remember it. And so I don’t know if you’re familiar with Rosetta
06:46
Stone which is a way to learn foreign languages. But it’s based on this curve or the forgetting
06:51
curve. In other words you want to see information. And then a day later you want to see it again.
06:55
And then three days later you want to see it again. And so that reviewing is important.
06:59
So study early. Self evaluate is the next one. What that means is that you can’t evaluate
07:06
yourself when you actually have the test. If this is the first time you are evaluating
07:11
your understanding, you’re way too late. In other words you have to self evaluate. At
07:15
every step of the learning process, you have to take quizzes, you have to take practice
07:20
tests. You have to write questions that you then answer. You have to write essays. In
07:24
other words you have to evaluate where you are. And if you’re not doing that throughout
07:28
that whole learning cycle, you’re just not going to get it at the end. You can’t expect
07:31
to learn it right at the end. Next is the idea of vark. You can take these online. A
07:37
vark profile. What v stands for is visual. A is aural, in other words listening. R is
07:42
reading and writing. K is kinesthetic. And so if you are a visual person this prezi would
07:48
be very helpful. If you’re an aural person, perhaps writing a song or listening to a podcast
07:52
or a MP3 of this lecture would be important to you. If you’re a reader or a writer, that’s
07:58
the R, then do that. If you’re kinesthetic that means do something. It doesn’t mean like
08:02
act it out necessarily. But it means that you have to be doing something while you’re
08:06
learning. And so for me what I’ve found, I fairly kinesthetic is that I have to actually
08:10
write. And so by physically writing that allows me to connect my kinesthetic brain with my
08:15
regular brain. And so I can put knowledge in there and then it stays. Next is the idea
08:20
to take a break. In other words you can’t just sit down for an hour and try to study.
08:25
So studying for a half hour and then taking a 10 minute break is really really important.
08:30
And it also ties in with that whole idea. For me my best ideas invariably come in the
08:35
morning when I go for a run. And that’s because I’ve thought about it for awhile. I go out
08:39
there. I take a break. I look at it from a new perspective. And then I have a better
08:43
understanding. Next is the idea of please, have fun when you learn. This picture found
08:49
on wikipedia and it just, it’s a funny looking guy. It makes me happy. And so you’re learning
08:54
should be the same way. In other words you should make a study group. Study with other
08:59
people. Enjoy learning. Make a funny song. Make a funny video. Those are all helpful.
09:05
And then the last idea is that you need to set a goal. And so when you play soccer, they
09:13
have goals on either side of the field. And those, I love that name, because you constantly
09:18
work throughout the whole game. And so this is Lionel Messi, plays for Barcelona. I love
09:23
soccer. But it’s the idea that you’re going to have to push through constantly. And there
09:28
are going to be setbacks that whole time. And lots of times a soccer game will end 0-0.
09:33
Or 1-0. But it’s not like they give up. Because they don’t reach that. They constantly are
09:37
working and then they’re eventually trying to achieve that goal. And so to sum up, I
09:42
love this quote. It’s by Gandhi. You should live life as if you were to die tomorrow.
09:48
And learn as if you were to live forever. Learning is a skill that if you can pick it
09:52
up in high school or early in your life, it’s going to pay you benefits for the rest of
09:56
your life. And so I hope that’s helpful.


This post was previously published on YouTube.

Photo credit: Screenshot from video.

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