Thinking About Thinking


One of the four pillars of holistic education is "learning to learn" (Mahmoudi et al 2012). Students must learn where to find information, how to stay informed, and how to take responsibility for their own learning. They must reflect on their own learning, an aspect of metacognition or thinking about thinking.

When students are aware of their own thinking, they can identify their strengths, areas for improvement and the strategies that help them learn. But learning to understand one’s own thought process takes time and practice. As teachers, we can help students organize their thoughts and reflect on their learning by guiding them in metacognitive strategies.

Metacognition is such an important skill that it is included as an overall expectation in all four strands of the English/Language Arts curriculum in Ontario. Every grade (1-12) is asked to reflect on their strengths, areas for improvement, and strategies in reading, writing, oral communication, and media studies.

“reflect on and identify their strengths as listeners and speakers / readers / writers / media interpreters and creator, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful in oral communication situations / before, during, and after reading / different stages in the writing process / understanding and creating media texts.” - Ontario Curriculum, 2006.

So, as language teachers in the 21st century, how can we lead students in effective and efficient metacognitive routines in our classrooms? Read on, because you’re about to find out!

Metacognitive Activities for Language Arts Classes: