Metacognition is thinking about thinking. Because I am married to an educator, my sister and brother-in-law are educators, this topic consumes more of our conversation than in most families.
I used to play a game with my kindergartners. I would show them a number of small blocks in my hand. We would count them so everyone knew exactly how many total blocks there were. I would put them behind my back and put some in one hand and the rest in the other hand. I would close my hands so no one could see what was in my hands. I would open one hand and have students count the number of blocks. Then I would ask if anyone knew how many blocks were in the closed hand. When a student got the number right, I would open up the closed hand and we would count to make sure. I would ask the student if he was magic. When he assured me that he wasn't ( though some 5 year olds still think it must be magic) and he couldn't see inside my closed hand, I would ask him to explain how he knew how many blocks I had in my hand. For the first time, many students were experiencing metacognition.
WHAT I LEARNED: Many think that those that are good at math are magic in some way. Students just have to think the right way. A good teacher teaches how to think the right way.