Reviewed by Lori Cirucci
In this era of high rigor and high relevance classrooms this timely book describes how to educate young people to become flexible thinkers. It shows schools how to build a thinking community. The extensive knowledge, research, and unique experiences of the authors creates an approach to teaching and learning in the 21st century that all teachers should embrace. Students can’t just memorize facts to solve problems in today’s fast–paced world. They must be creative problem solvers with an ability to be skillful in their thinking. Students need to be skillful thinkers so they can become independent, life–long learners. This book also illustrates how schools can create vibrant learning communities.
This book starts out with a preface about why the book was written. Next, the brain, intelligence, and the role of metacognition are discussed in Chapter 1. We learn best when we are aware of and engaged in the process of our own learning. Thinking skillfully is not intuitive but, rather, is something that needs to be taught. A summary and thinking deeper discussion questions are included at the end of each chapter. Chapter 2 discusses how people learn. This chapter emphasizes that if students' preconceptions are not engaged, students may fail to grasp the new information that is taught. Chapter 3 explains why metacognition is important, what cognition really is, and strategies for incorporating metacognition into practice. Chapter 4 discusses how to behave metacognitively. Consistently successful people exhibit dispositions that support their objectives, called “habits of mind”. This chapter discusses each of the important habits of mind and why they are important. Chapter 5 discusses the Wright brothers and how they had the capacity to think metacognitively. What a great story! Chapter 6 is about the language of thinking. There is considerable evidence to show that families that struggle financially lack the time and resources needed to develop the extensive vocabulary needed to make metacognition possible. Chapter 7 is about creative problem solving. Chapter 8 discusses the knowledge networks. In our schools, we should be teaching strategies that encourage building more complex networks of knowledge rather than wasting time on the recall of isolated facts/concepts. Chapter 9 is about the metacognitive classroom. Effective questioning is at the heart of successful teaching and deep learning. Chapter 10 discusses two powerful classroom tools—notemaking and grading techniques by teachers. These are great classroom tools for the teacher! Chapter 11 is about creating a metacognitive learning community.
At the end of the book, there are five resources for the teacher: A metacognitive monitor for the student, a metacognitive planning template, a whole–school assembly guide, reading as a time for thinking resource for parents, and, finally, parents as partners in metacognition; planning points for schools. These resources are excellent! What a great book and a timely read!
Review posted on 10/26/2012