Building a Classroom Culture of Metacognition through eSpark

Educator explicitly teaches students about metacognition and effectively uses one or more features of the eSpark iPad app or student experience as a springboard to model how to employ metacognition strategies.
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About this Micro-credential

Note: This micro-credential requires the use of the eSpark platform. Eligibility is restricted to teachers in districts participating in eSpark’s micro-credentialing program. For more information, visit:

Key Method

Using various product features within the eSpark student experience as a springboard, the educator explicitly teaches students about metacognition and how they can use their metacognition strategies to support their work in eSpark, and sets a precedent for how these should be used in the classroom beyond eSpark.

Method Components

Why Teach Metacognition?

Recently, brain-based learning, and, more specifically, metacognition, has gotten a lot of attention in the education space. Many studies point to the fact that metacognition – “thinking about one’s thinking” – is an effective strategy for helping students achieve academically higher levels and become more motivated by their work. Educational research shows that metacognition is most effective when students receive explicit instruction about what it is and how it works (Zepeda et al., 2015).

After students have an understanding of what it means to think about their own thinking and understand that their brains are wired for growth, it is important for educators to model what metacognition looks like through think-alouds. To become adept at thinking metacognitively, students need to practice using these strategies frequently and receive feedback from their teacher.

Using eSpark for Effective Metacognition Framework

One effective framework for metacognitive problem-solving involves students planning, monitoring, and evaluating their work. In this framework, students plan their activities, their goals, or their approach to problem-solving, self-monitor as they work through the activities, and then reflect back on and evaluate the work they’ve done and the approach they took to problem-solving.

As students work through their challenges in eSpark, there are many opportunities for them to practice metacognition strategies. Several features within the eSpark app support the use of these strategies:

Student Mission Dashboard

The student mission dashboard gives students a bird’s-eye view of the mission (Common Core domain and level) they are currently working on in eSpark, the quests they’ve completed in that mission, and the quests they’ve yet to begin in that mission. This feature can help students understand at a high level what they have accomplished and what they are working toward.

Quest Title

In the student iPad app, in the bottom left corner of a student’s quest, the title of the quest the student is currently working on is displayed. Students can use this feature to state what they are working on in their quest and what their goal is.

Activity Questions

Throughout their quest, students are given activity questions in which they answer comprehension questions about apps and videos they complete. If they get the questions right, they get a blue ribbon on the activity. These questions allow students to see their own progress in their quest and determine whether or not they are on track to meet their goal of passing their post-quiz.

Quiz Review

Once students take either a pre- or post-quiz, they are able to tap on the quiz icon and review the items in their quiz. Students can thumb through their quiz review to look for specific concepts that they may not understand or need more help on.

Printed Accountability Logs

In some classrooms, students use accountability logs, or journals, to track what they are doing in each app each day and what they have learned.

For more access to resources on these features within the eSpark app, check out our support page.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

  • Wilson, D. and Conyers, C. (2014, October). The Boss of My Brain. Educational Leadership, 72(2).


Essential Information

Additional Resources

  • Education Endowment Fund (2016, May 19). Metacognition and self-regulation: High impact for low cost, based on extensive evidence.

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

The items in this following section detail what must be submitted for evaluation. To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Part 1 and a “Yes” for both artifacts submitted for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview Questions

(800-word limit total):

  • State your name, school name, and school district name (optional).
  • Provide background context
    • Before you introduced metacognition to your students, what did they know about “thinking about their thinking”?
    • Why did you ultimately decide to introduce more explicit metacognition strategies into your classroom culture?
  • Provide an overview of how you introduced metacognition into your classroom:
    • How did you explicitly teach students about it?
    • How did you model this for them?
    • Which feature of the eSpark student app did you use as an example?
    • How did students react? Were they able to understand?
  • What were the results?
    • Have students learned how to use metacognition strategies to plan, monitor, and evaluate their work?
    • Do they know exactly what they’re working on in eSpark right now?
  • How have you built on the metacognition strategies students practiced with eSpark?

Part 2. Work Examples/Artifacts

To earn the Metacognition micro-credential, an educator must submit the following:

  • Evidence of explicit instruction about metacognition

Submit a video of you providing your students explicit instruction about what metacognition is, how it works, and modeling what it looks like with the part of the eSpark app you’ve chosen to highlight.

  • Evidence of student metacognition practice

Submit a student artifact – this may be a video, picture, journal entry, student reflection, classroom routine, etc. – that demonstrates that the student is familiar with the concept of metacognition and has opportunities to practice the strategies the educator modeled with the eSpark app.

Part 3. Educator Feedback (Optional)

(100-word limit):

  • On a scale of 0-10, how useful do you think this micro-credential was? What reflections or suggestions about the content or composition of the micro-credential can you share that would help us make it even more effective or valuable?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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