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#1 Lesley Ann

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Posted 16 July 2003 - 09:06 PM

Imagine a classroom where pupils ask more enquiring questions, where the teachers do not dominate, where lessons are full of surprise, ambiguity and motivation.

Thinking Skills, creative and critical, are rapidly becoming seen as a good thing. In this seminar I shall discuss thinking skills and how to approach thinking in the teaching of history. Over the next week I shall post various topics on the teaching of thinking skills, guidance on how to write a thinking skills lesson, the benefits of teaching thinking skills, and offer a range of adaptable and flexible strategies/activities for use in the classroom.

In this post I will discuss why teaching thinking is important, the key skills involved in higher order learning, how the teaching of thinking involves the teacher and a few key features that are common to Thinking Skills lessons.

History should be taught in lively and interesting ways to motivate and stimulate the pupils. I use a variety of teaching styles to breath life into the teaching of history for example, thinking skills, brain based learning, accelerated learning. I believe pupils should be provided with challenges by setting high standards, structured lessons with engaging, stimulating and motivating activities. Pupils should be encouraged to become articulate, especially through group discussion. Perhaps the greatest incentive for providing such a varied diet is that it is more fun to teach and to learn in this way. Above all doing History should be fun. I cannot claim to an expert in ‘thinking skills’, more of a growing enthusiasm from a professional development path I found myself on four years ago. Through the teaching of thinking in History and RE I have found that both the pupils and myself really enjoy and are motivated by the whole process of teaching and learning.

A lot of thinking already takes place in the classroom, and many teachers may be tempted to utter ‘we do that already’. However we cannot claim there is enough attention focused on higher order thinking in the planning of lessons. If there were then the classroom and experience of the pupils would be totally different. Imagine a classroom where pupils ask more enquiring questions, where the teachers do not dominate, where lessons are full of surprise, ambiguity and motivation.

In Thinking Skills the focus is on 'knowing how’ rather than 'knowing that’ - on ‘learning how to learn’. If learning is making sense of experience, and thinking is how we learn, then improving children's thinking will help them to make more sense of learning and of life.

Why is teaching thinking important? Thinking Skills is not a didactic attempt by the teacher to teach the defined set of thinking skills. It is not an activity where teachers tell pupils the learning, give them an activity connected to it, and then tell them what they have just learned in that activity. Teaching thinking involves the creation of challenging learning experiences which call for high level thinking, such as the development of the skills listed in the National Curriculum Orders for England under the five headings of information processing, enquiry, reasoning, creative thinking and evaluation. It is stipulated that the curriculum should "promote an enquiring mind and a capacity to think rationally…the curriculum should enable pupils to think creatively and critically, to solve problems…”(Key Stages 1,2, DFEE and QCA 1999).

Information-processing skills enable pupils to:
· locate, collect and recall relevant information
· interpret information to show they understand relevant concepts and ideas
· analyse information e.g. sort, classify, sequence, compare and contrast understand relationships e.g. part/whole relationships

Enquiry skills enable pupils to:
· ask relevant questions
· pose and define problems
· plan what to do and how to research
· predict outcomes, test conclusions and improve ideas

Reasoning skills enable pupils to:
· give reasons for opinions
· draw inferences and make deductions
· use precise language to explain what they think
· make judgements and decisions informed by reasons or evidence

Creative thinking skills enable pupils to:
· generate and extend ideas
· suggest possible hypotheses
· be imaginative in their thinking
· look for alternative innovative outcomes

Evaluation skills enable pupils to:
· evaluate information they are given
· judge the value of what they read, hear and do
· develop criteria for judging the value of their own and others' work or ideas have confidence in their own judgements

The main focus for teaching thinking is on developing pupils’ ability as learners. Pupils need to consider not only what has been learned but also how it has been learned so that they can transfer these skills more readily to other areas and subjects. Without the right words, thinking and learning are difficult to discuss so teachers need to develop a ‘thinking’ vocabulary for pupils to use. The ultimate aim is for pupils to become independent thinkers, capable of planning for, checking and reflecting on their thinking across different types of tasks.

The teaching of thinking skills involves teachers in:
· Setting challenging tasks that encourage pupils to strive to think through a problem or issue which may have no single correct answer;
· Planning for learning objectives, which encourage pupils to gain an understanding of the patterns of thinking and principle concepts;
· Encouraging pupils to use and build on what they already know in order to make sense of new information
· Planning for pupils to ‘think together’ through collaborative talk and active listening;
· Intervening, when necessary, by asking questions that support or extend pupils ’ thinking.
· Using the plenary to check learning against objectives and to debrief pupils on both their solutions to the task and their strategies for carrying it out;
· Helping pupils to make connections between the thinking involved in the task and other contexts in order to encourage transfer of knowledge and skills.

Teaching Thinking Skills offers the teacher an opportunity for either stand-alone or bolt on lessons to reinforce the learning that is already taking place or a series of lessons built into the Scheme of Work. Remember effective thinkers will surely do better in a subject when it comes to exams. A Thinking Skill lesson is taught in a subject specific context but the delivery of the content is secondary to the focus on thinking and reasoning. The individual teacher must decide how often and when to slot in a thinking skills lesson…once or twice a term?

A few characteristics common to Thinking Skills lessons:
· Challenging tasks that encourage pupils to use prior knowledge.
· The pupils are asked to make connections between the thinking and learning from the task to build a bigger picture –transferring skills
· A puzzle, 'mystery' or problem that provokes cognitive conflict, e.g. a felt need to examine and advance one's thinking
· Attention to the vocabulary and process of reasoning
· Considerable discussion, especially with peers, to identify and resolve problems.
· The teacher only gives assistance when necessary – giving the pupils a chance to struggle
· During the plenary and the debriefing there should be an opportunity to discuss the solutions and how the task was done
· Co-operative work – tasks in groups with discussion encouraged.
· The opportunity to reflect upon the development of both group and individual thinking
· Diagnostic and formative assessment is more common. Listening and watching group work is as important as marking,

I would stress again that I am no expert, nor do ‘I have all the answers’, I am just a history teacher will a real interest and enthusiasm for the teaching of Thinking Skills in History. I hope this seminar acts as a resource for those of you who are interested in the teaching of thinking in history. For those of you who contribute I hope this seminar offers you the opportunity to contribute your thoughts and experiences in the teaching of thinking. Above all I hope the ideas that will be generated are useful, inspiring and motivating.


Lesley Ann Buxton
July 2003



DFEE (1999) The National Curriculum (www.nc.uk.net)

Fisher P (2002) Thinking Through History Chris Kington Publishing,

Fisher R. (1995) Teaching Children to Think, Stanley Thornes

Fisher R. (1995) Teaching Children to Learn, Stanley Thornes

Fisher R, (1998) Teaching Thinking, Cassell

Fisher R, (1999) Head Start: How to Develop Your Child's Mind, Souvenir

http://www.teachingt...Thinkskills.htm

http://www.dialoguew...0Education.html

http://www.nc.uk.net...nkingskills.htm
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#2 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 16 July 2003 - 09:57 PM

In this seminar I shall discuss thinking skills and how to approach thinking in the teaching of history.  Over the next week I shall post various topics on the teaching of thinking skills, guidance on how to write a thinking skills lesson, the benefits of teaching thinking skills, and offer a range of adaptable and flexible strategies/activities for use in the classroom.


Firstly, Ann, can I say what an excellent idea I think this is. It will give us all a chance to digest and reflect upon what you have to say in stages - much as one might do in a series of lectures or seminars.

As for what you say, it is only latterly - largely as a result of some of your earlier posts on the Forum - that I began to try to adopt Thinking Skills into my teaching and I certainly found that these had a stimulating effect on my classes. Focusing on strategies for learning and an awareness of how they were learning was of very real interest to the pupils. However, I have never been keen on dealing with teaching methods such as this as 'add-on extras' and wonder whether treating Thinking Skills in isolation can be as effective as embedding it into the content of the lesson.

Since my ideas were cribbed from you I'm afraid I don't have anything of significance to add to what you have said, but I know that there are other members of the Forum who have more experience.

#3 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 17 July 2003 - 09:00 AM

Can I also say what an excellent posting, lots of really good points to ponder and a nice 'hook' to get us wanting more - was this part of the plan I wonder?!

I have been trying to increase the amount of 'Thinking skills' activities in my lessons and have had quite a few successes, both in terms of enjoyment and outcome. Like alot of the new ideas associated with the KS3 Foundation I have tried to introduce them slowly, with selected classes in the lower school until I am more confident and the students have a chance to learn how to participate in these new activities. Once that has been achieved the activities get better and better each time.

One of the most successful activities that I use is based on the Black Death and is a very open ended task which has many solutions. The students are given a drawing of a town and are given the instruction that they are the Mayor of the town and have to stop the plague from spreading. They work in small groups and come up with as many solutions as they can. Of course they are not allowed to use the knowledge that the fleas on the rats were spreading the disease. Once they have come up with their suggestions, which range from quarantining, to burning the whole village, to moving every healthy villager into the Lord's house etc, I tell them that they have to now consider the effect of their actions on a) shopkeepers and B) doctors. By adding in this extra dimension the students are then forced to rethink their plans. This lesson is a really interesting way for the students to get a real feel for the period, and really THINK about what they would do. the fact that there is no correct (closed) answer allows them to really take off in their imagination.

Edited by Dan Lyndon, 17 July 2003 - 09:02 AM.

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#4 John Simkin

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 08:43 AM

A lot of thinking already takes place in the classroom, and many teachers may be tempted to utter ‘we do that already’.  However we cannot claim there is enough attention focused on higher order thinking in the planning of lessons.  If there were then the classroom and experience of the pupils would be totally different.  Imagine a classroom where pupils ask more enquiring questions, where the teachers do not dominate, where lessons are full of surprise, ambiguity and motivation. 

Excellent introduction to the subject. I have long believed that the best way of getting children to think deeply about a subject is through historical simulations. Like Dan I have also used a simulation on the Black Death during Y7 (part of the Medieval Village simulation and will be going online later in the year). However, I think it is important not to tell the students that it is the Black Death as there will always be a few students who will know about the connections between fleas, rats and the disease. I always give it the name used at the time “pestilence” (the Black Death is a 19th century term).

After I gave my seminar at Leeds I was approached by a NQT who was an ex-RAF officer. He said that simulations were used overwhelmingly to train officers in the armed forces and said he was surprised that they were not used more in schools to teach thinking skills. People working for large companies have told me similar stories.

I agree completely with the idea that we should be encouraging students to be asking questions. Far too much of what goes on in the classroom involves students “filling in the blanks” type questions. What appears to be on the surface, investigation type questions, are really comprehension type questions. Bright students in particular will soon get bored with this approach and will become non-cooperative.

#5 Lesley Ann

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 07:46 PM

I agree completely with the idea that we should be encouraging students to be asking questions. Far too much of what goes on in the classroom involves students “filling in the blanks” type questions. What appears to be on the surface, investigation type questions, are really comprehension type questions. Bright students in particular will soon get bored with this approach and will become non-cooperative.

Picking up on John's point links nicely into the next post on:

Raising the challenge of your lessons within the Blooms Taxonomy of Higher Order Thinking.


Before I post guidance on writing a Thinking Skills lesson I would like to raise the issue of raising the challenge of your lessons using Blooms Taxonomy.

As John states - pupils are asked to tackle too many tasks that are really comprehension type activities – a lower order thinking task and more able pupils will soon become non-cooperative.


When planning Thinking Skills activities it is helpful to be aware of Blooms Taxonomy of Higher Order Thinking.

Quick guide to:
Blooms Taxonomy of Higher Order Thinking

Higher Order Thinking

EVALUATION:
Making quantitative and qualitative judgements – developing opinions about the relative value of parts.

SYNTHESIS:
Arranging and combing elements in new ways – to create a picture that was not there before.

ANALYSIS:
Breaking information down into parts – making clear the hierarchy or relationships

APPLICATION:
Using new information in new and concrete situations – relating information to own position

UNDERSTANDING/COMPREHENSION:
Translating information into other forms using your own words – making an interpretation of new material

KNOWLEDGE
Remembering and recalling facts – storing information in basic form.

Lower Order Thinking


To raise the challenge of your Key Stage 3 lessons the teacher should aim to pitch the lessons objectives and activities within the Blooms Taxonomy framework. Below is roughly how the types of thinking from Blooms Taxonomy link in with the National Curriculum Levels of Attainment.

Basic Order Thinking: KNOWLEDGE
NC Level 2/3

Basic Order Thinking: UNDERSTANDING/COMPREHENSION
NC Level 4


Middle Order Thinking: APPLICATION:
NC Level 5

Middle Order Thinking: ANALYSIS:
NC Level 5/6


Higher Order Learning: SYNTHESIS:
NC Level 6/7

Higher Order Thinking: EVALUATION:
NC Level 7 +


Raising the challenge in your Lesson objectives:
I hope his seminar gives guidance for teachers to identify and share with pupils challenging learning objectives. When writing your lesson objectives be as clear and specific as possible. At the beginning of the lesson share your objectives with the class, state exactly the nature and the level of the learning intended in your lesson – use the trigger words like to evaluate, judge, justify. For example a Year 8 lesson pitched at Level 5 to 7 – a lesson objective could be - To evaluate the historical interpretation of the Gunpowder Plot: Was there a Gunpowder Plot? Have no more than 2 or 3 learning objectives per lesson. Avoid mixing objectives (don’t write ‘To identify and explain’) - always have single objectives. Avoid general phrases such as ‘to know’ and ‘to be able to understand’ – this is lower order. Use words that allow both the pupil and yourself to assess if the intended learning has taken place by the end of the lesson during the debrief/plenary.

So if you have a specific lesson in mind and want to pitch the lesson higher to raise the challenge use the trigger words below to help you write your lesson objectives. For example Year 8 lesson objective - to build an interpretation of Henry VIII. This is a higher order SYNTHESIS thinking objective pitched at level 6/7.

Basic Order Learning: KNOWLEDGE
If your lesson is pitched at NC Level 2/3 then lower order-thinking tasks are required. Trigger words/activities: identify, label, list, retell.

Basic Order Learning: UNDERSTANDING/COMPREHENSION
If your lesson is pitched at NC Level 4 then lower order-thinking tasks are required. Trigger words/activities: compare, contrast, estimate, explain.

Middle Order Learning: APPLICATION
If your lesson is pitched at NC Level 5 then middle order-thinking tasks are required. Trigger words/activities: solve, predict, demonstrate, relate.

Middle Order Learning: ANALYSIS
If your lesson is pitched at NC Level 5/6 then middle order-thinking tasks are required. Trigger words/activities: differentiate, categorise, speculate, outline.

Higher Order Learning: SYNTHESIS
If your lesson is pitched at NC Level 6/7 then higher order-thinking tasks are required. Trigger words/activities: construct, build, create, summarise, design.

Higher Order Learning: EVALUATION
If your lesson is pitched at NC Level 7+ then higher order-thinking tasks are required. Trigger words/activities: judge, justify, conclude, criticise, assess.

Lesley Ann Buxton

This excellent advice came from a CPD INSET by Ron Rooney (Durham LEA)
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#6 Andrew Field

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 10:48 PM

Fantastic - thank you very much indeed. This lesson objective advice / guidance is extremely similar to materials delivered to me on KS3 strategy training at school, although it left out the parts about where the lesson is pitched, and more towards words we should aim to use in lesson objectives generally.

Extremely useful. I especially like the advice not to 'mix objectives'. The key idea, as you rightly point out, is to use language that allows everyone in the room to assess how far the objective has been met by the end of the lesson.

Your / Rooney's suggestions surely don't just apply to key 'thinking skills' either - they, as many of the KS3 strategy approaches seem to - apply to good practice in all aspects of our teaching.

Thank you. This is very much one of those topics that will encourage frequent use of the Posted Image icon near the bottom left of the forum.


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#7 Lesley Ann

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 12:17 PM

Guidance: The Three Steps to a Thinking Skills Lesson

Step One: When launching the activity you should…

· Give clear instructions – this is very important. Do this without defeating the object, don’t give the pupils all the answers or thinking strategies they will need.
· Help the pupils to see what they are about to do by linking with prior learning or experiences – this will give the pupils the confidence they need to get started, and helps them make sense of the task.
· It may be appropriate in some cases to model the strategy using a different context – thus making the process more explicit.

Step Two: The Activity…
· This will involve group work and discussion for some, if not all, of the activity.
· There might not always be a written outcome – this appeals to some pupils, who feel they have not done ‘real work’ until debriefing when they become aware of their thinking.
· Activities are varied and designed to appeal to the pupils with a wide range of preferred learning styles…remember not all children learn in the same way – it is important to give a rich diet of teaching methods VAK.
· The teacher’s role is often to OBSERVE the pupil’s progress rather than to intervene in the learning process.

Step Three: The Debriefing/Plenary
· This is a whole class activity that provides a chance to REVIEW the learning and the way that the pupils have had to think in order to complete the task.
· It will involve a number of open questions – the order of the questions needs to respond to the progress of the class discussion.
· The teacher should encourage the pupils to reflect upon, and talk about, the ‘thinking processes’ they have used – known as METACOGNITION.
· The learning that has taken place during step two – the activity, in terms of content, conceptual understanding and awareness of thinking can be bridged to other contexts.
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#8 Lesley Ann

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 12:57 PM

Before you plan a Thinking Skills lesson – be aware of these features…

Teaching Style: The teaching style should very much focus on the pupil’s thinking. This is different, although compliments activities that are required to be content-led or investigative. Thinking Skills should not be confused with active learning that does not necessarily involve the thinking skills.

Subject Analysis: Here the focus is on the big ideas that underpin higher order thinking within a specific subject.

Language: The use of language used should be subject specific language to articulate the reasoning.

Concrete Preparation: Highlight the key words and the equipment to be used in the activity.

Cognitive Conflict: Challenge the pupils to be aware of inconsistencies, provoke the pupils to resolve them.

Meta-cognition: Reflect on the thinking - encourage the pupils to reflect upon, and talk about, the ‘thinking processes’ they have used – encourage the pupils to apply these new ‘thinking processes’ to solve other problems.

Bridging: Link the work, thinking they have done to the broader curriculum, other contexts, the BIG PICTURE.
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#9 Lesley Ann

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 02:42 PM

Once bitten, twice shy!
Teacher cries, “I did a thinking skills lesson and it went horribly wrong! Why?” Or “It just didn’t work, I’m not trying that again!”


This next post contains things that may have gone horribly wrong and how to put it right!

It takes a lot for a teacher to come out of his/her comfort zones, to try something new…. they have to feel confident and be willing to try again. If things do go wrong…. go back to the lesson plan, get back in that classroom and TRY AGAIN! Don’t give up!

“Arh! Group work…. it did not work!” Okay so if the group work didn’t work – consider this! How often do you do group work? Are the pupils used to group work? They may appear unwilling or nervous to discuss because they are simply not used to group work. Go back to your planning. Next time give the pupils a sheet with questions on to discuss – give them a structure. Leave space on the sheet for the pupils to jot down ideas. Practice makes perfect – your pupils will need to get used to group work activities for it to work, give them patience, training and time. Don’t write group work off! Some teachers find group work difficult on INSET days.

“I ran out of time!”
If you have spent too long on preparing the pupils for the activity and the activity itself then you will not have left enough time for the most important part of the lesson - the debrief/plenary and bridging.
When planning your timings the start the debrief/plenary with 20 minutes left to go. Remember pupils learn more at the beginning and end of a lesson then they do in the middle.

“Silence in the debrief!”
Take a proactive approach whilst the pupils are working in groups. Listen and observe the discussion, jot down good points they make. Only step into the group discussion if the pupils get unstuck - ask the pupils to explain or elaborate on the points they make. Give the pupils an early warning - inform the pupils that the debrief will take place in 5 or 10 minutes time. Ask them to prepare what they are going to say, agree a spokesperson, tell them to practice. I show the pupils the open ended questions I will be asking them – so they are aware of the questions and are given plenty of time to consider their answers. For example: What strategies/skills did you use to come to your decision? - How did you come to your decision? Have you changed your mind during this activity – and if so why? Can you think of other lessons that you could use these skills in? Can you think of other situations that you could use these skills in?
To encourage talk have a read of this: 'Encouraging children to explain /verbalise their thinking and their activity' by Pete Griffin.

"They don’t have any meta-cognition skills!”
The main focus for teaching thinking is on developing pupils’ ability as learners. Pupils need to consider not only what has been learned but also how it has been learned so that they can transfer these skills more readily to other areas and subjects. Without the right words, thinking and learning are difficult to discuss so teachers need to develop a ‘thinking’ vocabulary for pupils to use. The ultimate aim is for pupils to become independent thinkers, capable of planning for, checking and reflecting on their thinking across different types of tasks.
Teachers of thinking need to give their pupils the language and vocabulary, use this glossary list to arm your pupils.
Thinking Skills Glossary
If the pupils struggle then model the process for them by giving them questions to start them off For example: ‘What became clear to you during the lesson?’

“The activity went wrong!”
Did you prepare? Did you explain the instructions clearly? Did you have the write equipment? Go back to the lesson plan and re-teach. Don’t give up!
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#10 Richard Drew

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 07:05 PM

so much i want to say in this fantastic seminar, so many course i have been on that have added to my ideas bank, and skills as a teacher in this area. unfortunately, most of the resources, article etc i want to refer to are at school - next week!!!

1 thing i want to add now is on the issue of questioning technique. so much pupil thinking comes from framing the right questions. an article that appeared in my pigeon hole recently hit the nail on the head:

the average teacher asks about 400 questions a day, 25000 a term, and over 3 million in a career. for most teachers 90% of these require an answer that takes less than 1 second to give, and one that simply recalls knowledge requiring no though processes/discovery/enquiry at all.

the secret of good teacher questioning to provoke thinking?

open questions is the obvious answer, but also waiting - the article claims that a pause of 10 seconds before you seek an answer has an exponential impact on the quality of the answer and the thought process all pupils have gone through after the question has been asked.
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#11 Lesley Ann

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 09:31 PM

In the planning stages of your Thinking Skills lesson.

1. Choose the context you wish to use for the lesson – Do you need to explain or account for something? Identify a key concept? Address a specific skill?

2. Select a strategy to create cognitive conflict. Now structure the lesson so that it will be created.

3. Consider what preparation needs to be done for the lesson? What language will you use to emphasise the activity.

4. Consider what ideas the pupils may generate during the debrief/plenary? How will you stretch the more able pupils? Can you challenge their ideas? Do you want to structure the questioning by having a key question to start the debrief/plenary?

5. Consider what thought processes the pupils will use in this lesson? How can these skills be transferred to another scenario or subject? ‘What have we learnt today?’ ‘How did we get the answer?’
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#12 Lesley Ann

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 10:53 PM

You are ready to write your Thinking Skills lesson plan:

There are a number of thinking approaches in the UK of which the best known are CASE (Cognitive Acceleration through Science Education), CAME (Cognitive Acceleration through Mathematics Education), Thinking Through the Humanities, Somerset Thinking Skills, and Philosophy for/with Children.

A Thinking Skills should be written in Four Stages or Acts. Most teachers will be familiar with Act 1 and 2.

Act 1: Concrete Preparation or Framing, putting the pupils in the picture. Give clear instructions - Make sure that the pupils know the focus of the lesson and that they know and understand any ‘words’ crucial to the task. When introducing the topic, place it in context, perhaps by making a connection. Emphasise to the pupils the importance of group work, working together, listening, organising groupings. (Friendship groups, mixed groupings, mixed ability groupings) Get the pupils to organise themselves around a table so they can see each other for discussions. For example 3 pupils in a row like xxx is not a good way for a discussion to take place but:
xx
x
would be a much better way for a group of 3 pupils to organise themselves for a group discussion.
Act 1 should be fairly short, do not talk too much!

Act 2: The activity – cognitive conflict and construction of a solution.
This activity has been carefully chosen to make the pupils think, discuss and give feedback to the class. The best way for this to happen is for the pupils to be working in groups – during act 2 the group needs to attempt to resolve the cognitive conflict. Please make the pupils aware that they will be required to share their findings to the class during act 3 (debrief/plenary).
During this activity the teacher should ensure that all groups are on task and limit intervening to groups where pupils have become unstuck. Listen from a discreet distance - listen and observe – watch groups, jot down interesting snippets of what you hear/see. Circulating and listening in Act 2 allows the teacher to effectively ‘stage-manage’ the debrief/plenary. The whole idea behind a thinking skills task is for the pupils to reach higher order thinking and not on the accumulation of facts or getting the right answer. If groups ‘finish’ earlier challenge them to elaborate on their points. Work out the order you will ask the groups to contribute in the debrief/plenary. It is important that you inform the class of how much time they have left to allow them to prepare for Act 3.
The danger of Act 2 is allowing it to go on for too long. In your lesson you should aim to leave the last 20 mins of the lesson for Act 3 and 4…the more challenging of the acts. A time limit of 20 minutes should be placed on Act 2.

The Real Teacher Challenge – Act 3 & 4.

Act 3: Debrief/Plenary – the sharing of solutions and methods.
Here the pupils will be feeding back to the class their groups ideas and findings. Make the pupils think and aware of their thinking. Emphasise that there are no right or wrong answers to questions about their own thinking. Pupils should be encouraged to outline their own thinking. Initially get the groups to answer the question posed in the context of the subject. During Act 3 ask open questions. Have them on the board/OHP during Act 2 so they are aware/time to prepare. Ask the pupils for their reasons, make them explain. Encourage alternative arguments, give each group time to evaluate and consider the responses. Give time for the discussion to flow. If you a faced with silence…ask the pupils to ‘go back into your groups for 40 seconds to discuss what has just been said’. Then ask for responses again.

Once the solution has been shared, the focus should shift towards reflecting upon how they came to the answers, the process of thinking…metacognition. – ask how they completed the task? What strategies/skills did you use to come to your decision? - How did you come to your decision? Have you changed your mind during this activity – and if so why?
Be prepared for their thinking to be different or even better than yours!
Don’t ask the pupils too many closed questions. Don’t accept one-word replies. Don’t superimpose a right answer. Don’t ask the brightest pupils first. Don’t move on from a pupil’s response without responding to it – acknowledge their response – build their confidence!
Effective debriefing can last 15 to 25 minutes.

Above all PRAISE their efforts to reason and think even if solutions are questionable.


Act 4: Bridging or Making connections:
Try to connect the learning outcomes from this lesson to other contexts –probability to betting, decision making to deciding on holidays, reliability of sources to gossips in Coronation Street, discussion to speaking!
Where will this type of thinking be useful?
Where have I already used this skill?
Which subjects can I use this thinking?
Can you think of other lessons that you could use these skills in?
Can you think of other situations that you could use these skills in?
Act 4 could last 5 to 10 minutes.


:teacher: :teacher: :teacher:
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#13 Lesley Ann

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Posted 20 July 2003 - 01:44 PM

By using thinking skills activities pupils can focus on knowing how as well as knowing what - on learning how to learn. Many aspects of history contribute to the development of thinking skills.

Thanks for the contributions so far from Carole Faithorn, Dan Lyndon, John Simkin, Andrew Field and Richard Drew. :D

I would stress again that I am no expert, nor do ‘I have all the answers’, I am just a history teacher will a real interest and enthusiasm for the teaching of Thinking Skills in History. For those of you who contribute I hope this seminar offers the opportunity to contribute your thoughts and experiences in the teaching of thinking. Above all I hope the ideas that will be generated are useful, inspiring and motivating.


My subsequent postings will include thinking skills strategies to try out in the classroom.

Lesley Ann Buxton
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#14 Lesley Ann

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Posted 20 July 2003 - 01:46 PM

Maps/Pictures from Memory

Group work: Ideally in groups of 4. Ask the pupils to give themselves a number 1 to 4.

Room organisation: In tables arranged to allow space for movement to the front.

Resources: Single copy of map or picture (A4 or A3 size). – If it is a map then it should have COLOUR, WORDS, and SYMBOLS etc. If a picture then it could be a source, cartoon source, a labelled diagram e.g. a Trench, Motte and Bailey Castle. This task is appropriate for any visual document. Each group should have a blank A4 piece of paper, coloured pencils, sharpener, pencils, ruler and eraser….

Task:
1. Give clear instructions: you want each group to make as good a copy of the ‘map/picture’ you are going to show them as possible.
2. Each member of the group will be invited one person at a time (numerically) to come to the front of the classroom where you will show them the ‘map/picture’. Alternatively the ‘map/picture’ could be taped to a wall outside your classroom in the corridor. Allow a few minutes for the group to come up with a strategy.
3. The first pupils will come out to look/inspect the ‘map/picture’ for a short time… fifteen to twenty seconds is ample time for the pupils to view the ‘map/picture’. The pupils are not allowed to bring equipment with them e.g. No paper or pencil etc.
4. The first pupil then returns to their group to transfer what they have seen onto the A4 paper. The pupils are not told how to transfer this information…I have seen some pupils verbally give instructions to another to draw the ‘map/picture’ or draw it themselves informing the group of what the have seen, I have heard pupils say… “Look in the top right hand corner, I can’t recall what it said.”
5. When the pupils return to their groups…guard and cover the ‘map/picture’.
6. Allow a short time before you invite the second pupil to look/inspect the ‘map/picture’ – about 1 to 1½ minutes.
7. The activity continues like this until you feel that the groups have had enough time to gather information to add to the picture. Perhaps giving each pupil one or two turns to view the picture. You may find that as the activity progresses pupils will tend to look less at the ‘map/picture’ and return to their groups more quickly. Later in the activity extend the time they have with the groups before calling upon the pupils to view the ‘map/picture’.
8. Give the pupils some warning of the last viewing – to avoid being lynched! Inform them that there will only be two more viewings before the end.
9. The groups are allowed to discuss as much as they need to, but they must not communicate with the group member who is studying the ‘map/picture’…cheating is frowned upon
10. After the last viewing allow the pupils to give finishing touches to their own group copy.

Debrief & bridging:
· Encourage the pupils to reflect upon and discuss what they have done. 1) the process of replicating the ‘map/picture’ 2) any information that has stood out on the ‘map/picture’.
Open-ended questions to ask:
· What was difficult about completing the ‘map/picture’?
· What was simple about completing the ‘map/picture’?
· Did you find that some members of the group found some parts of the ‘map/picture’ easier to remember whilst offers found it hard? - Highlighting different preferred learning styles of the pupils, groups enabling pupils to play on the strengths of the group and others recognising their own areas for development.
· What strategies did you use to remember the ‘map/picture’? Was this the same for everyone? How might these strategies help in other situations?
· What did the groups discuss during the activity? How did this help replicate the ‘map/picture’?
· How might you judge how good your groups’ version of the map is?
· Did you use any prior knowledge to help you complete the task? What was this?
· Give your group a score out of 10 for group work – what is it? How did you collaborate/work together? How did this help?
· If you did this activity again for another ‘map/picture/diagram’ how would you do it differently?
· When could you use this skill, strategy again? (e.g. revising)


For more details on this approach see:
Fisher P (2002) Thinking Through History Chris Kington Publishing

I used this approach recently with Year 10 using the Source ‘The Gap in the Bridge’ – a British cartoon of 1920 – shows America refusing to join the League. The pupils had not been previously exposed to this particular source and I was interested to see what they made of this activity. After using this activity I found an added benefit, the pupils source skills became much more effective...they discussed what could be inferred, the provenance, the reliability, the purpose. The cartoon from memory activity was much more enjoyable then looking at the source from an OHP or textbook and the teacher dominating asking questions to the whole class. This activity involved all the pupils thinking!
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#15 theanalogy

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Posted 21 July 2003 - 05:30 PM

this is a very interesting idea, yet i wonder have you ever encountered an apathetic student? one who you know is full well capable of copleting the assignment, who you have seen think and perform on higher levels, yet simply refuses? you can teach thinking skills to students until you are blue in the face, but i don't think that you can establish the utopian classrooms until you can modivate someone else, without them having a hand in it. because there will always be the student who doesn't want to work, or try, or participate, no matter how much he or she is able. however for the rest of the vast majority of students i beleive the rest of the skills you are offering are crucial, though they sometimes might not all utilize them.

i want to be clear, however, i have witnessed a classroom full of students possesing all or most of the skills you talk about, where there were relevant questions, the right reaserch was done, they were articulate, and there was little need for the teacher's involvement: they practically taught themselves. but there were still some students who wouldn't participate and would have talked with friends the whole class except for peer pressure from the rest who were paying attention. in conclusion, i mantain, though you should give the skills to eveyone, it isn't necessary for for them to be used by each student for the class to be successful, simply a majority.

-ariel shultz




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