Crieghton, Pre-service Elementary Generalist Teacher

Art Methods, UNL 2021



"When I think, I make a bunch of connections with past things I have heard/learned. I also learn a lot from my peers and my teachers, which is added into my thinking process because I will form ideas from the ones I heard. To represent that, I decided to make the house from the Disney movie “Up”. The balloons in the house represent my thoughts and the way they are wrapped all around each other is meant to represent all of my connections. The balloons that I placed in the clouds were made to represent new ideas/thoughts that people add to my house/brain or that

I add when I hear something that I like or agree with. I am also a daydreamer,

so the house in the clouds represent that in a way."

The Metacognition Unit is designed to inspire a conversation about the core purpose of learning in schools.  Through a series of lessons, students see thinking as the center of the classroom, and their own thinking process as an art form that is iterative, evolving and beautiful and poetic.

Here, you will find lesson plans, readings, videos and examples of student works.

Placing Thinking at the Center of the Classroom


“I think that sometimes strong thinkers are able to think metacognitively without being taught, but I would not have thought much about it without being taught it.  Understanding my thinking process is motivational because it keeps leading me to the next idea, which keeps me interested in learning.”
-12th grade student

 Key questions:

"How do creative approaches make the vocabulary of thinking accessible to all students?"

"How do we help students see thinking as fuzzy, imperfect, exciting play?"

"How do we teach students to make their own thinking and learning visible?"

"How do we create communities of thinking in k-12 classrooms?"



In Lesson 1, students describe their own thinking process, learn about metacognition, and identify ways they are asked to be metacognitive in each discipline in school.  Students will understand that metacognition is a key skill that is being practiced across classrooms in their school experience.

In Lesson 2, students identify academic thinking words that teachers use to describe thinking processes.  They then unpack those words, explore the cognitive function happening for each, and design a list of metaphorical or poetic words to make those processes more accessible to all learners.  To do this, we 'tour' familiar spaces for students, and identify tools they commonly use that could describe thinking processes.  

In Lesson 3, students return to their own thinking, and design a visual metaphor to more poetically describe their thinking process.  They   explore materials and techniques, and then create an artwork that makes their thinking visible.