Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Metacognitive Frames and Peer Support

KC West had great success having students explore a novel's characters and their motivations through metacognitive frames. The students found the frames engaging, and one student even commented, "These are fun--like Mad Libs."

KC was pleased with the assignment because is was naturally differentiated. One student could simply write a word in the blanks of the frames, while another student might write detailed phrases. All students could successfully showcase something that they new about the characters in the novel.

KC's Enriched English 10 students were analyzing the characters in Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses, and here are the frames that students used:

Blevins is a ________ who __________.

Above all else, Rawlins wants ___________, and so he _________________.

John Grady values ______________, so he ________________.

I was so impressed with the student work that KC displayed after this exercise, that I tried a metacognitive frame in my World Literature class this week. As a priming activity for Shakespeare's Othello, I had students complete the following frame:

Relationship Advice

The important thing to know is that __________ screws up a relationship because ______________. When this happens, I feel ____________ and ____________. Therefore, to prevent this relationship obstacle I __________________.

After students completed the frame with their own ideas, I had them complete a second frame from another person's point of view. I used the peer support strategy where students chose a laminated picture of a famous person and then wrote their relationship advice on a speaking bubble. Since I wanted to give each hour the chance to use some of their favorite stars, I simply taped the frame bubbles to a "relationship advice" poster after the end of each hour.

During the gallery walk to read all of the famous people bubbles, students commented that they enjoyed the activity and hope we use the famous people more often. I wanted to introduce peer support with the Othello unit because I feel that the class will be able to have richer discussions about the racial issues that arise in the play when the feelings can be coming from Hilary Duff, OJ Simpson, Patrick Dempsey, Britney Spears, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Oprah, Barack Obama, Dennis Rodman, etc.

More information on metacognitive frames can be found in Writing as Learning by Andrew Rothstein, Evelyn Rothstein and Gerald Lauber.