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4 Ways to Connect Metacognition to Your Literacy Lessons

casey dyslexia emily literacy lessons metacognition

Metacognition. It’s a great word. We love it. To put it simply, metacognition is thinking about your own thinking. When working with all students, but especially those who are struggling or have dyslexia, helping them understand how their brain works can be really enlightening and empowering. It can bring awareness to the thinking processes that they, maybe, haven’t tuned into in the past.  

Have you ever considered connecting metacognition to your literacy lessons? It may seem like a big task or even a bit too intimidating, but with the right strategies, it can be great for the lesson and your students. Sometimes when we talk about metacognition and literacy, we focus so much on the academic component but that social-emotional piece is also important in helping our students gain and maintain self-confidence to be able to speak and advocate for themselves. Understanding metacognition can work to rebuild the self-esteem that can sometimes be whittled away with dyslexia. 

Let’s talk about clever and unique ways you can connect metacognition to your literacy lessons.

But first... when can you start talking to kids about the brain?

Really, at any age. Kids love learning the language of the brain! You can definitely teach them all the brain words like occipital, parietal, temporal, and frontal. They want to know those four lobes. Kids love learning how each lobe has a big job and they all need to work together to help you become a successful reader. 

We both talk about the brain with our students in every single lesson. Talking about the brain is not just a one-time thing. For us, we start every session by bringing our student’s focus back to the brain and how it connects to our multi-sensory learning. It’s a constant conversation that’s interwoven into and throughout everything we do.

When our students understand what part of the brain we are working on training and why, it helps them to take an active role in their learning.  

Here are 4 ways you can incorporate metacognition into your literacy lessons:

1. Use the Brain Hat

This is a fantastic resource from Ellen McHenry that we both use with our students in our lessons. It’s a fabulous tool to begin teaching students about their brains. It really is amazing all of the different areas of the brain that are working together in order to function. The Brain Hat is an amazing tool that we’ve shared and used over the years. You can download and print the pattern and instructions in color or black and white. Best of all, it’s FREE! It’s a wonderful visual for children to see. There is just so much rich discussion to have when you use the Brain Hat. 

2. Use the Language Triangle

We also love to take out and use the visual Language Triangle. It helps to explain multisensory instruction and the importance of simultaneous senses being activated. When we touch, and hear, and see, our brain is able to better build strong neuro-pathways. The Langauge Triangle is another great resource that helps to make the connection visual for our students.

3. Share interesting books about the brain

A favorite book of ours to share within our lessons is Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D. This one might feel a little too young for your older learners, but we still love it. It’s all about giving your brain a great big hug and cheer for all the amazing things it can do. It also touches on brain elasticity which is so important and we always talk about how our brain is a muscle, it has plasticity, and what that means.    

For older students, check out The Brain: All about Our Nervous System and More! by Seymour Simon. This is a great option if your students want to get really scientific. We love the use of photography in this book and all of the detail. 

4. Share entertaining videos about the brain

All teachers know that videos are always a big hit in the classroom. I’ve found a few great videos to use in the classroom that really create dynamic discussion. I especially love this one from SciShow Kids and another called Your Big Beautiful Brain

Here are a few more to check out and share with your students:

For more tips on how to incorporate metacognition into your literacy lessons, check out our latest episode of the Together in Literacy podcast. If you like what you hear, don’t forget to rate, leave a positive review, and subscribe!

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