The importance of writing (and metacognition, of course!)

12 October 2018

Author: Karen Roskilly - Sandringham Research School Lead

As a Research School, we have been doing a lot of work around metacognition as part of the courses we have run based around the EEF Metacognition and Self-Regulation Guidance Report. This has been such a rewarding process and has had a positive impact on all of the team and the strategies that we use on a day to day in our classrooms. As a result, we were delighted to see the emphasis being placed on metacognition in the new Improving Secondary Science Guidance Report; it felt like everything was joining up into a coherent whole!

But it wasn’t the section on metacognition that caught my attention as I was reading the Science Report. Instead, it was the section on the language of science and how to best support students to read and write about science that I honed in. There was such a lot here that is entirely applicable in other subjects and I could immediately see how I could use these strategies in my Sociology classroom. For example, there is a very clear summary of different types of DARTs (Directed Activities Related to Texts) that can be used to support students in comprehending text, an absolutely key skill in A Level Sociology.

In particular, there was a reference to What Works Clearinghouse, Teaching secondary students to write effectively (2016). I had not come across this paper before but it is a treasure trove of ideas and strategies to support students with successful writing, a vital component of literacy and success in education.  Firstly, I found their diagram illustrating the writing process (shown below) useful to exemplify the different stages that successful writers will go through, and the focus on evaluation dove-tailed with the approach I take with my students. I am going to share this with my students.

However, perhaps unsurprisingly after our focus on metacognition, it was the section on engaging students in evaluating and reflecting on their own writing that I have acted on.

Colour-coding is one strategy referred to as a way to encourage students to self-evaluate their writing.  This is a technique I use a great deal with students already but I decided to try a slightly different approach last week in an attempt to support students in developing their analysis skills, which they are finding challenging.  You can see my use of colour-coding here on an exemplar paragraph that we looked at in class.  Students then had to write their own paragraph and use the same colour-coding when evaluating their work.

The report also suggests using rubrics to enable students to evaluate their own and their peers work.  This is something that I have not used before so I was keen to give it a go and used this in the same lesson as my new colour-coding approach. You can see the rubric I used here.

Overall, both strategies had positive outcomes. Looking at the colour coded exemplar paragraph encouraged students to revisit the complex nature of analysis both in the exemplar and their own paragraphs. The rubric then enabled them to consider the outcome more forensically. Both approaches were received positively by the students!

Posted on 12 October 2018
Posted in: Blog
Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.