The PEAR Institute: Metacognition Activities for Afterschool and Summer Programs

This post is part of a series about the workshop presentations delivered at the ACT Skills Summit.

Caitlin McCormack, Manager of Training and Curriculum at The PEAR Institute, shared with workshop attendees how metacognition – awareness of our own thoughts and learning processes – underpins the Achieve skills of critical thinking, creativity and perseverance, and outlined useful strategies for building metacognition into program activities.

Metacognition contains two sub-components: reflection, which involves thinking about what we know, think, and believe; and self-regulation, which is taking control of how we learn and think.

Attendees learned activities for making thinking visible. Using anchor charts or schemas at the start of an activity, young people fill out the sections on what they already know and what they want to know. Then at the end of the activity, they complete the section on what they learned. Similarly, Y-charts help young people write down what something looks, sounds, and feels like. These activities that get thoughts down onto paper help make thinking visible.

Attendees also practiced “snap debates” as a strategy to make thinking audible, and learned about games that can get young people excited about how the brain works. “Metacognition involves thinking about what is happening inside of your head, and realizing you can step outside that and observe and change how you think,” Caitlin of PEAR commented.

The PEAR Institute partners with school districts, out-of-school-time programs and youth-serving organizations to promote social-emotional development in the service of student engagement, academic achievement, and life success. PEAR’s integrated student support system includes tools and services, all based on scientific research, that can be used across educational settings to better understand the non-academic picture of students. Boston After School & Beyond and PEAR have collaborated to align these tools and services to support the ACT Skills Framework.

All materials used at the workshop can be found here.