Design Thinking and Metacognition

In last week’s post we talked about how our students can carry more of the cognitive load and what that looks like in all grade levels from transitional kindergarten through eighth grades. As I was reflecting on the thoughts shared last week and going over everything that we are already doing in our classrooms, I found that I wanted to learn more about what that might look like in all areas of the curriculum and in all programs that are being offered here at Feaster Charter.

3rd graders during their animal wax museum explaining their digital and physical projects to visiting students – provides a clear audience beyond the classroom, visualization of final produce helps support learners, gets students to develop project management skills

As I researched and really thought about this, I came across a great blog/podcast post from John Spencer that really described the process of metacognition with a focus on design thinking, or giving students time to think creatively and create productively. In  this blog post, five steps are shared:

  1. Use a gradual release approach
  2. Integrate self assessment
  3. Practice visualization
  4. Incorporate project management
  5. Allow mistakes and reward risk taking

As I walked on campus, I saw so much of this going on in all of our classrooms! I was most impressed with some of the ways that our learners (both teachers and students) provided each other with opportunities to visualize their objective. I was also really impressed with the strength of the classroom community, especially when I saw risks being taken and mistakes being reflected on and improved. These two aspects of design thinking and metacognition showed me more than what the students could do on a standards based test, it showed me that they are developing the skills to be successful learners, creators, community members and leaders.

  • Gradual Release (from all classrooms) – one fourth grade room in particular demonstrates gradual release and allows opportunities for students to go back and reflect on learning by posting QR codes next to posters that link to additional research, videos, and pictures that support the student
  • Self Assessment (from all classrooms) – so many KWL charts (know, want to learn, learned) charts are being used in all grades to students to share their existing knowledge about a topic, share what they are curious about and reflect on their learning
  • Practice Visualization (in Music Mindlabs) – students got to meet a guitar maker from Dood Guitars which helps them visualize a career that incorporates the RIASEC themes
  • Practice Visualization (in Technology Mindlabs) – students had a video chat with a video game designer who explained the skills that they are developing today that will help them be more successful in designing games
  • Project Management (in a primary classroom) – students were troubleshooting an app and communicating ways to resolve the issue which is a great example of students managing a bigger project when things do not always go as planned – students discussed their plans and adjusted them as needed and even brought up concerns about delays in meeting the assigned deadline
  • Project Management (during a middle school elective class) Hydroponic Greenhouse – students are learning how to graft plants to grow in the Feaster Farm hydroponic greenhouse which is a great example of project management because students are working towards a bigger goal of donating enough crops to feed a homeless shelter before the end of next month
  • Allow Mistakes & Reward Risk Taking (in an upper grade classroom) – students being supportive of each other as they work in a group to create a shared piece of writing – mistakes were made and discussed and appropriate solutions were provided by team members
Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 7.29.21 PM
Visiting professionals helps students see how their learning will impact them beyond the classroom, the idea is formed that they do not have to wait for

Whatever you choose to take away from this post, I definitely encourage everyone to share their thoughts and to take time to reflect on what you are doing in your classrooms every day in order to help students really explain their thinking and to help them visualize a desired outcome in the process! Don’t forge to share your ideas to our Twitter hashtag, #FeasterLearns.


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