Support Students’ Metacognitive Skills


Students who use metacognitive strategies, such as goal setting, progress-monitoring, and self-evaluation, are shown to have more motivation and self-efficacy around their reading.

How you can help students develop metacognitive skills

Follow the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework in providing options for students to be strategic, goal-directed learners about what their interests are and how to choose texts related to their interests. Use a filtering feature to allow students to filter stories by topic, as well as to filter based on what they have read and not read. This feature supports students in developing metacognitive awareness of interests and the progress they are making in pursuing those interests.

Teaching tips
  1. Encourage students to set goals based on their interests. Goals could be set around how much to read in one topic area, or reading in new topic areas. Ask students how they might remember their goal (e.g., sticky note on computer, reading goals chart, written in a notebook, etc.)
  2. Model and think aloud how you filter for topics that interest you. Have students practice filtering for a favorite topic. Check in with the class to make sure filtering is clear. Have students reflect on how they make their reading choices.
  3. Encourage students to explore new topics by seeing what their peers are interested in. Create an “interest wall” (like a word wall) where students can post their interests. Then students can form “Interest Groups”, like book club groups and can come together to discuss or work together on activities related to their mutual interests. Encourage students to broaden their interests. For students who tend to engage in reading activities around one particular topic, set a goal for them to explore a new topic. This could be a goal for an individual student or for the whole class. Suggest that students engage in at least 3 different activities around the new topic (e.g., read, discuss, create some sort of follow-up project).
Lesson: What’s in a Picture? (Relates to teaching tip 2)

To build student skills in unpacking information conveyed by visual media; to build metacognitive awareness of decision-making processes. By the end of this lesson, students will be able to articulate what information they get from images and how it compares to information carried in text.


Most students make reading choices quickly, based on an image associated with the text. What information do those images give them and how accurate is it? Get students thinking about how they make their choices, what information images carry, and how that compares and contrasts with information in text.

  1. Introduction: Discuss the importance of visual information in shaping our choices and our understanding. Use an example from the news, an advertisement, or a book cover
  2. Model:
    1. Explain aloud what you predict this story (or ad) will be about, based on the picture.
    2. Next, compare the picture with the title of the story.
    3. You may want to also look at the caption information, if it is provided. Ask students how that information compares to what they already think about the story.
  3. Discuss: Do students think this is a good picture for this story? Why or why not? What would they suggest to replace this picture? Why would their choice be better? (e.g., would it be more accurate? more descriptive? more interesting? more fun?)



Pressley, M. Metacognition and self-regulated comprehension. What research has to say about reading instruction 3 (2002): 291-309.

Gersten, R., Fuchs, L. S., Williams, J. P., & Baker, S. (2001). Teaching reading comprehension strategies to students with learning disabilities: A review of research. Review of Educational Research, 71(2), 279-320.

Schunk, D. H., & Rice, J. M. (1989). Learning goals and children’s reading comprehension. Journal of Literacy Research, 21(3), 279-293.

Vaughn, S., Klingner, J. K., Swanson, E. A., Boardman, A. G.,Roberts, G., Mohammed, S. S., & Stillman-Spisak, S. J. (August, 2011). Efficacy of Collaborative Strategic Reading with middle school students, American Educational Research Journal, Vol 48(4), pp.938-964.

Common core standards

Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

I think [TTS] helped me become a better reader because it helped me not only to read it but to listen to it…so I paid attention more and I read it over and over again and it taught me to read books over and over again and pay attention. I think that just makes me a better reader.

~ Student