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The most effective learners are skilled at metacognition: they are aware of their existing understanding of concepts and texts, they recognize when something challenges or supports their view, and they readily adapt their understanding as they acquire new information. An essential piece of such sophisticated learning is self-questioning, which allows a learner to probe and deepen their own conception of a concept, as well as to recognize and repair confusion.


Self-questioning is a critical component of metacognitive learning. Through self-questioning a learner is able to identify what she or he knows and believes, and to identify what she or he is wondering. This process allows a learner to recognize and repair confusion or incomplete information, to guide inquiry in directions of interest, and to challenge and enrich his or her own understanding of a text or concept. Self-questioning can also help a learner to maintain interest and focus, and guide attention towards the most important pieces of information.

Content Area Adaptations 

Self-questioning is relevant in all content areas, since learners are always most effective when they are able to develop authentic curiosity about a topic or text. Furthermore, metacognitive learners in every subject area need to be able to identify their current understanding so that they can enrich and adapt their ideas in response to new information.

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Determining Importance
  • Inferring
  • Metacognition
  • Predicting
  • Questioning

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.1
  • CCRA.R.4

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Numeracy
  • Reading

Strategy Tally Sheet

In this activity, adapted from Kelley’s Comprehension Shouldn’t Be Silent (2007), students will create a tally sheet where they track the number of times they use different literacy strategies. The purpose of this activity is to track the literacy strategies students are using, use that data for reflection, and encourage students to expand...

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Building Background
  • Investigation
  • Launching Into New Content
  • Reflection
  • Synthesis


This engaging activity gives students an opportunity to generate and ask questions about a text by directing them towards a peer who is acting as a specific character. It encourages students to think deeply about the meaning of a text, to engage emotionally with material, and to identify with characters.

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation

Inner Voice Calender

This quick activity, adapted from Cris Tovani’s Do I Really Have to Teach Reading? (2004), allows students to reflect on their learning by engaging in active dialogue with their peers and/or teachers. Students respond to a focus question of the week, leaving room for written responses from a partner or teacher. Student responses may serve as...

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation