Learn: what…why…how…you and…

Growing and Learning: Language, Literacy, and Learning Wiki

My current focus is on developing my Grow and Learn Wiki.

Take a look at the latest posting on:


or go directly

to: http://growandlearn.pbworks.com/w/page/112457719/FrontPage

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Winning at Learning

Continuing the Adventure of Learning How to Learn

Winning at learning from Fran Toomey
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Metacognitive Development 1

I am backtracking to earlier posts on Metacognition Development.  I will follow this post with a few others on Development from 2017 Postings.


The Development of Metacognitive Knowledge in Children and Education

The Development of Metacognitive Knowledge in Children and Education

Author: Noboru Kobayashi, M.D., Pediatrician, Director, Child Research Net
Hirotaka Kataoka, Researcher, Benesse Educational Research and Development Center, Benesse Corporation
Issue Date: October 30, 2009
Section: Brain & Education


A short excerpt:

Not surprisingly, the development of theory of mind and metamemory are clearly shown to be strongly influenced by language. Moreover, language abilities at the ages of 3 and 4 significantly contribute to metamemory ability at the age of 5. It has been demonstrated that the early acquisition of high theory of mind competencies affects the acquisition of metacognitive language (vocabulary), for example, in the use of words such as “guess” and “think.”

Metamemory that is expressed in language, or declarative metamemory, is already present in preschool children and is thought to develop in stages during the elementary school years. It is related to the declarative knowledge that recalls facts in language, as mentioned above. Here, declarative metamemory refers to metamemory mediated by language and is opposed to what is called procedural metamemory. Even after entering puberty, metacognition is thought to continue to develop to enable the reading, comprehension, and memorization of complex texts.”


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SMART Goals for Learning

SMART GOALS for Learning from the Reading Sage


A short excerpt:  Hope you read the whole post from August 20, 2016

SMART Gоаlѕ For Student Success!

Setting SMART Goals and Objectives with Students


“Creating SMART goals and student action plans (SAP) to address student learning and behavior issues is the key to turning around your classroom and your school.

Today the world is getting smarter and sharper than ever before.


Students who are goal oriented problem-solvers and possess a growth mindset will play a vital role in building the future of our world. So, today we need to guide parents and students to develop S.M.A.R.T. goals and objective to achieve their maximum potential. Unpacking the SMART goal-setting acronym and developing a SMART goal action plan, we have
S… Specific
T…Timely and Tangible”…….



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Specific Executive Function Resources

From the most recent blog posted on April 5th:

Looking across these frameworks it is possible to see that we expect students to become increasingly independent as learners. How well they can/will become independent learners depends on what learners know about learning in general and their own learning in particular. And that will depend at least in part on their teacher(s) and the learning environment.

Next the focus will shift to resources specific to “Executive Function” as it applies in general, in the classroom, and for students who struggle with learning.

Some sources/resources

Metacognition, Strategy Use and Instruction by Waters and Schneider, 2010, Guilford Press.

The Table of Contents shows a wide range of topics from Skilled Memory to Math and Science (focusing on conceptual knowledge), and Reading and Writing.  In describing themes across the chapters, the editors comment on several major themes:

“What develops has been replaced with a more complex set of questions that focus on the interplay between content knowledge, metacognition and strategy use….One of the most striking features of the chapters included in this volume, is the increasing prominence of metacognition…driven by the move into math and science areas and the corresponding importance of explanation and reflection on ongoing problem solving…. Forcing the issue of transfer….within a more metacognitive mind-set.” (pp. 281-2)

They follow up with separate sections on (a) goal-directed activity, (b) the interplay between metacognitive knowledge and self-monitoring, types of knowledge, and individual differences, the shift to microgenetic designs, the move into the classroom and peer support.

Along with this overview of Metacognition/Executive Function, a number of authors focus on one specific Executive Function skill, for example, working memory (See, for example, Gathercole and Alloways, Working Memory and Learning: A Practice Guide for Teachers (Sage Press, 2008) and Dehn’s Working Memory and Academic Learning (John Wiley and Sons, 2008).

And some authors focus on a specific population of children; for example:

Russell Barkley’s Executive Functions focuses on children with ADHS (Guilford Press, 2012)

Lynn Meltzer’s (Ed.) book on Executive Function in Education: From Theory to Practice (Guilford Press, 2007) has chapters specific to ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Nonverbal Learning Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Joyce Cooper-Kahn and Margaret Foster in Boosting Executive Skills in the Classroom, A Practical Guide for Educators (Jossey-Bass, 2013) does not focus on a specific type of disability but comments on ADDH, specific learning disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Two other “Executive Function” (EF) texts focus on specific E. F. skills rather than specific types of disabilities.  They provide lists of skills that are part of EF skills.

Peg Dawson and Richard Guare, Smart but Scattered, Guilford Press, 2009

Lynn Melzer, Promoting Executive Function in the Classroom, Guilford Press, 2010

In the next blog post, look for a chart listing the Executive Function Skills from the work on the last 3 authors.

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Learning Frameworks Focused on Individuals as Learners (6)

There are at least 3 other “teaching/learning” frameworks that are relevant to Executive Functioning: Individualizing Learning, Learner “Characteristics” and Habits, and Executive Function/Metacognition.  The first two–which address individual differences–will be the focus of this post.

INDIVIDUALIZING LEARNING as a framework comes in several different forms: Personalized Learning, Differentiated Instruction, Universal Design and Learning Styles.  Each of these suggests that we need to understand individual learners and how learners differ.

  1. Personalized Learning

”Personalized learning is happening now and will expand significantly worldwide in 2016. Yet there are still different definitions for personalized learning and even some have concerns about what it means for kids. We know the main focus of personalized learning is our kids. So we are focusing on three main concepts for these trends we see for 2016 starting with learners, the teachers, and pulling together everything with culture and community that encompass the 10 Trends


Posted below are excerpts that seem to be most closely related to “Learning How to Learn.”

Focus on Learners includes the following topics: Discover the Learner, Learner Agency, Competency-Based and Kids Hacking School. Within this element of the framework, the following are most relevant to work on Executive Function.

Learner Agency: ” . It is about having a sense of ‘agency’ when we feel in control of things that happen around us; when we feel that we can influence events. This happens when teachers focus on learning as the goal by allowing flexibility in the pace at which learners are expected to learn. You will definitely be hearing more about “agency” in 2016.”

Hacking School:  “Kids tend to be smarter than we give them credit. Since the system was created to encourage compliancy, many kids learn right from kindergarten to follow orders and do what the teacher tells them to do. However, because of the access to information on social media and conversations with their peers, they are learning to question, be curious, and even skeptical about “school”. They also are realizing with all that is available at their fingertips, they can teach themselves what they want to learn.”

Focus on Teachers Includes: Educator Competencies, Voice and Choice, and Blended Learning.

Voice and Choice: ” Providing choice can be confusing. If learners are choosing from a set of pre-planned choices from a computer program or a list of options from the teacher, then the teacher is ultimately the one responsible for the learning not the learner. As learners increase responsibility around voice, teachers can also provide a process that builds ownership as learners move toward agency with choice. 2016 will be the year we see more examples and strategies of learner voice and choice along the continuum around the world.”

Focus on Culture and Community includes: Common Language, Building Citizenship and Community as School.

Common Language: “….Personalized Learning is a culture shift. It is about transforming teaching school or district to Personalized Learning Environments, all stakeholders need to have a common language and understanding around personalized learning in conversations inside and outside of school…’

See also a related Model- The Institute for Personalized Learning: http://www.cesa1.k12.wi.us/institute/index.cfm

  1. Differentiating Learning

Another framework that addresses the topic of individualizing learning is “Differentiated Learning.” This framework is so widely known that it will not be discussed at length here, but see: http://www.edutopia.org/article/differentiated-instruction-resources

I still find Tomlinson’s The Differentiated Classroom (1999) the best source for a basic understanding of this framework, especially the Appendix. The “Equalizer” offers concrete dimensions of learning to consider.

  1. Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning is still another framework for understanding individual differences in learners. See: http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/whatisudl This is UDL Center’s very detailed description of this framework with multiple print version options. The focus is on 3 principles of UDL: Recognition of the multiple means of representation, multiple means for students to express their learning, and multiple ways to stimulate interest and motivation.

Universal Design and Expert Learners http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/expertlearners

  1. Learning Style(s)

Learning Style. If you “google” learning styles,” you will get links that range from Multiple Intelligences to a Wikipedia inventory, including criticisms: See, for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_styles

http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/journals/ed_lead/el_199010_curry.pdf  This concept requires considerable caution as many of the “learning style” models have not been researched or have not been found to be consistent with what we know about learning and learners.


These frameworks focus on particular learner “characteristics” or “habits” that are assumed to be central to a student’s ability, achievement, awareness, and/or approach to learning. You will see some/much overlap in these models. Some of the more current frameworks include.

  1. Growth Mindset:

Recognizing and Overcoming False Growth Mindset | Edutopia


Examples of a false growth mindset include praising effort over progress, affirming students’ potential without enabling them, and blaming their mindset instead of …

Carol Dweck: The power of believing that you can improve …


B Grit:

Grit: Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit | TED Talk …


Video embedded · At the University of Pennsylvania, Angela Lee Duckworth studies intangible concepts such as self-control and grit to determine how they might predict


True Grit: The Best Measure of Success and How to Teach It …


Edutopia blogger Vicki Davis identifies the nature of grit, its necessity and value of grit in education, and ten ways of teaching students to develop their own grit.


Teaching Grit: How to Help Students Overcome Inner …


Video embedded · Teaching Grit Cultivates Resilience and Perseverance (Research Made Relevant Series) Amy: Kenny is a student that participated in my grit program


  1. Habits of Mind identified by Costa and Kallick …

This model warrants consideration because it is well developed and widely used in school districts..

Of the 16 “Habits” the following seem particularly relevant to Executive Functioning and Independent Learning: Persistence, Managing Impulsivity, Thinking Flexibly, Thinking About Thinking, Thinking Interdependently, Remaining Open to Continuous Learning, Questioning and Posing Problems, Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations, Creating, Imagining and Innovating, and Taking Responsible Risks.

www.ccsnh.edu/sites/default/files/content/documents/CCSNH MLC

  1. The Self-…Models There are several models with the title “self—something”.

Agency: http://www.personalizelearning.com/2015/10/learner-voice-demonstrates-commitment.html


Self-Regulated Learning: These models are particularly relevant to social learning issues.

Barry Zimmerman Discusses Self-Regulated Learning


Barry Zimmerman Discusses Self-Regulated Learning Processes; Emerging Research Front commentary from the field of Social Sciences, general.

Self-Regulated Learning: http://www.rhartshorne.com/fall-2012/eme6507-rh/cdisturco/eme6507-eportfolio/documents/zimmerman.pdf


Self-Directed Learning:


and http://www.ciera.org/library/archive/2001-04/0104prwn.pdf


Self-Efficacy: http://www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Bandura/BanEncy.html  This model by Bandura is a behavioral/social model that offers an important perspective on

http://www.theoryfundamentals.com/bandura.htm on Observational learning

Looking across these frameworks it is possible to see that we expect students to become increasingly independent as learners. How well they can/will become independent learners depends on what learners know about learning in general and their own learning in particular. And that will depend at least in part on their teacher(s) and the learning environment.

Next the focus will shift to resources specific to “Executive Function” as it applies in general, in the classroom, and for students who struggle with learning.







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General Frameworks About Learning

As a final post in this series of posts looking at general  frameworks about learning, I want to contrast the degree to which the frameworks specifically mention “metacognition,” “executive function” and/or “learning how to learn.” Subsequent posts will look at three other types of teaching/learning frameworks: individualizing learning, personal qualities of learners, and the “metacognition/executive function” literature which focus more singularly and specifically on ideas related to “executive function”.

Two of the “learning framework” sources—Understanding by Design and  Authentic Learning certainly suggest principle of learning/instruction relevant to “metacognition/executive function” when they address topics or issues of student choice or motivation, meaningful learning, paying attention to conceptual misunderstanding, reflecting on, reviewing or revising their work, engaging students in self-assessment and use of feedback, students comparing their ideas and work to others or to work at other times, and articulating and transferring their learning to other contexts. Considering this as “executive function” work may depend on how explicit teachers are in labeling these practices as “executive function.” In addition, whether or not these are “executive function” practices will depend on whether students make  their thinking about learning explicit.

The Cognitive Apprenticeship framework I believe is more explicit about the teaching/learning principles that are directly related to “metacognition/executive function” insofar as this framework focuses explicitly on Reflection, Articulation, and Strategies.

The two other frameworks–noted below– explicitly espouse at least one principle central to “metacognition,” “executive function,” or “learning how to learn.”

How People Learn by John D. Bransford, Ann L. Brown, and Rodney R. Cocking, editor

Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, 2000


Summary Points

“Overall, the new science of learning is beginning to provide knowledge to improve significantly people’s abilities to become active learners who seek to understand complex subject matter and are better prepared to transfer what they have learned to new problems and settings. Making this happen is a major challenge (e.g., Elmore et al., 1996), but it is not impossible. The emerging science of learning underscores the importance of rethinking what is taught, how it is taught, and how learning is assessed (p 13)

Key Findings

This volume provides a broad overview of research on learners and learning and on teachers and teaching. Three findings are highlighted here because they have both a solid research base to support them and strong implications for how we teach” (pp. 14-18)

  • “Students come to the classroom with preconceptions about how the world works. If their initial understanding is not engaged, they may fail to grasp the new concepts and information that are taught, or they may learn them for purposes of a test but revert to their preconceptions outside the classroom
  • To develop competence in an area of inquiry, students must: (a) have a deep foundation of factual knowledge, (b) understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework, and (c) organize knowledge in ways that facilitate retrieval and application.
  • A “metacognitive” approach to instruction can help students learn to take control of their own learning by defining learning goals and monitoring their progress in achieving them.”


Implications for Teaching (p 19-21)

  • Teachers must draw out and work with the preexisting understandings that their students bring with them. This requires that:…
  • Teachers must teach some subject matter in depth, providing many examples in which the same concept is at work and providing a firm foundation of factual knowledge. This requires that:…


  1. The teaching of metacognitive skills should be integrated into the curriculum in a variety of subject areas.

Designing Classroom Environments:  (pp.23-25)

  1. Schools and classrooms must be learner centered.3. Formative assessments—ongoing assessments designed to make students’ thinking visible to both teachers and students—are essential…. 
  2. 4. Learning is influenced in fundamental ways by the context in which it takes place…..
  3. 2. To provide a knowledge-centered classroom environment, attention must be given to what is taught (information, subject matter), why it is taught (understanding), and what competence or mastery looks like.


Making Leaning Whole by David Perkins

Summary Points for “Learning the Game of Learning”—Passenger or Driver?

Learning to learn has to do with many things: directing one’s attention, choosing time and place, relating new ideas and skills to what you already know.  Indeed, it has a lot to do with the previous six principles.  The self-managed learner makes a point of practicing the hard parts, even when no coach or teacher imposes a regimen.  The self-managed learner makes a point of playing out of town—connecting ideas and skills with other contexts—even when no coach or instructor sends the team out of town…..”

“I can hardly think of anything more worth learning than learning how to learn….”  (p. 14)

To review those principles:

    1. Play the whole game…at least some “junior” or “threshold” version….some accessible version of the game. “You may not do it very well, but at least you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.” (p. 9)
    2. Make the game worth playing. Rather than, “You’ll need it later,” learners need to see some application early on, to be able to “foster my own commitment and interest.” (p. 202)….by connecting the “game” to work they are interested in at an appropriate level of challenge.
    3. Working on the hard parts. …with enough of this kind of work individually targeted (p. 10)…provided with enough of and the kind of feedback that allows revising the work; with learners being able to ask themselves questions about sticking points, confusion, poor skills, and time and place to work on those.
    4. Playing out of town…to stretch and adapt skills and insights…to work on generalizing…to transfer the learning….(p. 12). To step into the messy real world, where the learners needs to take on different roles, approaches, questions, and tasks (p. 204)
    5. Uncovering the hidden game…..learning to think like the “expert” in the particular field, who knows the unwritten and non-obvious rules of playing the game. “Any complicated and challenging activity always has multiple layers beneath the obvious.” (p. 13). Learners need to look for, and to know to look for, underlying strategies, approaches to problem solving in a particular domain, games of “evidence” and games of “pitfalls of evidence.” (p. 204)
    6. Learn from the team…learning is not a solo game, not a one source game, not a one context game. “Still there is much to learn from others who have mastered the art.” (p. 205)
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Kids as Executive Learners (5): Understanding By Design (UbD)

This is the last in a series of learning framework that focuses more generally on how students learn, although each has some reference to the concept of self-management. Subsequent posts will look at two other types of teaching/learning frameworks: individualizing learning and personal qualities of learners, which focus more singularly and specifically on ideas related to “executive function”.

In this post I focus on what I understand to be the connections between the PORTALS framework and the Understanding by Design framework.  The connections noted come from a publication that lists “The Big Ideas of Understanding by Design,” published in http://www.grantwiggins.org/documents/UbDQuikvue1005.pdf For additional details of their work, see the links below the chart.

Portals Door ppp Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe is a well- developed framework first published as a text in 1998 and revised in 2005.

In listing their Big Ideas of Understanding by Design, they list #1 as “UbD is a way of thinking purposefully about curriculum planning and school reform, a set of helpful design tools, and design standards—not a program or recipe.” (p. 14)  I directly quote these Big Ideas below.

PURPOSE 6 UbD transforms Content Standards and other goals into focused learning targets based on “big ideas” and transfer tasks.
OPERATIONS 3 Evidence of understanding is revealed through performance—when learners transfer knowledge and skills effective—using one or more “facets” (explain, interpret, apply, shift perspectives, empathize, and self-assess).
REMEMBERING 2  “…and the ability to transfer learning….”
TEAM WORK 4 Educators are coaches of understanding, not mere purveyors of content and activity.

8 UbD reflects a “continuous improvement” approach to design and learning. The results of our curriculum designs (e.g., assessment results, quality of student work, degree of learner engagement) inform needed adjustments.

ACTION 2 The end goals of UbD is understanding and the ability to transfer learning—to appropriately connect, make sense of, and use discrete knowledge and skills in context.

5 Planning is best done “backward” from the desired results and the transfer tasks that embody the goals.

LAYING A FOUNDATION 2   “….to appropriately connect, make sense of, and use discrete knowledge (and skills) in context.”
SELF-MANAGEMENT 7 Design Standards guide self-assessment and peer reviews of curriculum, instruction, and assessment for quality control.


For additional information about the Understanding by Design framework, see the links below.

See McTighe’s ASCD article on the “confluence of evidence from two streams—theoretical research in cognitive psychology, and results of student achievement studies.” Found at


For a detailed description of this UbD work see:


Source: Adapted from Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2011). The Understanding by Design guide to creating high-quality units. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

Or see comments on the 2nd Edition:


About This Book

”What is understanding and how does it differ from knowledge? How can we determine the big ideas worth understanding? Why is understanding an important teaching goal, and how do we know when students have attained it? How can we create a rigorous and engaging curriculum that focuses on understanding and leads to improved student performance in today’s high-stakes, standards-based environment?

Authors Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe answer these and many other questions in this second edition of Understanding by Design. Drawing on feedback from thousands of educators around the world who have used the UbD framework since its introduction in 1998, the authors have greatly revised and expanded their original work to guide educators across the K–16 spectrum in the design of curriculum, assessment, and instruction…. “









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Excerpts from How People Learn (3)

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, Committee on Development in the Science of Learning:

John D. Bransford Ann L. Brown and Rodney R. Cocking, Eds., National Academy Press, 2000Portals Door PP24

P.O.R.T.A.L.S:  A lesson planning format for Opening Doors to the World of Learning  Third in a series connecting frameworks to lesson planning.

To develop competence in an area of inquiry, students must: (a) have a deep foundation of factual knowledge [L], (b) understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework [L], and (c) organize knowledge [O] in ways that facilitate retrieval and application [A].


“Kids come to the classroom with preconceptions about how the world works.  If their initial understanding is not engaged, they may fail to grasp the new concepts and information they are taught, and they may learn them for purposes [P] of a test but revert to their preconceptions outside the classroom.”*


“A metacognitive approach to instruction can help students learn to take control of their own learning by defining learning goals [P] and monitoring their progress in achieving them.”*

*3 Key Findings

To see the full text, use the links below.


Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 Call 800–624–6242 or 202–334–3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area).

This volume is also available on line at http://www.nap.edu


Part I Introduction    
1   Learning: From Speculation to Science   3
Part II Learners and Learning    
2   How Experts Differ from Novices   31
3   Learning and Transfer   51
4   How Children Learn   79
5   Mind and Brain   114
Part III Teachers and Teaching    
6   The Design of Learning Environments   131
7   Effective Teaching: Examples in History, Mathematics, and Science   155
8   Teacher Learning   190
9   Technology to Support Learning   206


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“Kids as Executive Learners” Guide. Part. 1

Kids as executive learners from Fran Toomey


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