Magazine article Arts & Activities

Metacognition and Clay: Visual Reminders of Advanced Thinking

Magazine article Arts & Activities

Metacognition and Clay: Visual Reminders of Advanced Thinking

Article excerpt

Working in a low socioeconomic public school district means I'm constantly searching for ways to invest students in their learning. My M.Ed. studies at Plymouth State University were in the area of Neurodevelopment and Metacognition; this information has proved vital for my students! We talk daily about ways to overcome self-doubt and ways to give one's self a chance to learn. Introducing metacognition, which means thinking about your thinking, can do this.

You will find the concept of metacognition throughout the new Common Art Standards. The standards tell us that "meta-cognitive activities are crucial to student learning and achievement across the arts and other academic disciplines."

The following projects combine metacognition study with the magic of clay. The result is a memorable artifact about students' new metacognitive tools. Our annual art show is an opportunity for students to share their new learning tools with their family. This is an opportunity for generational learning!

KINDERGARTEN: GROWTH MINDSET LEAVES The concept of Growth Mindset is described in the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. It means that students can and will learn through practice and making mistakes along the way. We encourage students to practice this each and every day! Leaving behind a Fixed Mindset (I tried once, wasn't perfect feet from the start, I give up), they can enjoy their learning journey! Made using a simple leaf tracer W and basic clay tools, each leaf represents growth and is a reminder to practice a growth mindset, which is good for everyone!

GRADE 1: METACOGNITION THINKING CAPS Metacognition means thinking about your thinking. This is important because students need to "own" their learning--actively participate in the process. Being metacognitive means thinking about what you are learning, why you are learning it, how you are learning it and when you will use the information in the future. These thinking caps were fun to make but they are so much more! Learning is not a passive event. Made from an inverted pinch pot and half a strand of Twisteez wire, each thinking cap is a reminder that we want to always encourage students to be active participants in their education.


Making these masks in second grade was a review of growth mindset and a reminder of the message from . Viktor E. Frankl's book, Man's Search for Meaning. Frankl's training as a psychiatrist and his time in concentration camps led him to an important finding: No matter what happens, each person chooses his or her reaction to events. People go through all manner of bad times, ranging from a skinned knee to much more horrific scenarios. Even so, people choose how to react. Between the event and the reaction is a choice!

We start with a basic intro to Dweck's mindset and Frankl's choice concept. Each student then gets to make a visual representation of the choice to be happy in clay. …

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