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.
The images from a children’s story, Fish Is Fish,2 help convey the essence of the above principles. In the story, a young fish is very curious about the world outside the water. His good friend the frog, on returning from the land, tells the fish about it excitedly:
“I have been about the world—hopping here and there,” said the frog, “and I have seen extraordinary things.”
“Like what?” asked the fish.
“Birds,” said the frog mysteriously. “Birds!” And he told the fish about the birds, who had wings, and two legs, and many, many colors. As the frog talked, his friend saw the birds fly through his mind like large feathered fish.
The frog continues with descriptions of cows, which the fish imagines as black-and-white spotted fish with horns and udders, and humans, which the fish imagines as fish walking upright and dressed in clothing. Illustrations below from Leo Lionni’s Fish Is Fish © 1970. Copyright renewed 1998 by Leo Lionni. Used by permission of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.