Plenary sessions

Friday, 14 September
Conference Hall "Lielupe"


13:30 – 13:45   Official Opening. Welcome from the Ministry of Education & Culture, Riga City Council and Nordic Council of


13:45 – 14:30   Dr. Alexander Sokol, TA Group, Latvia. Towards Helping Teachers Introduce Thinking in the Classroom

While administrators, researchers and policy documents call for the need to bring more thinking into the classroom, many teachers believe that thinking has always been present in their lessons. One of the factors contributing to this extremely different vision of the situation is understanding of a thinking task. In this talk, I will propose the definition of a thinking task as used in the context of the Thinking Approach to teaching and learning. I will also outline the framework we have used for helping teachers bring these thinking tasks into their classrooms and some of the lessons we have learned. The presentation can be seen as an umbrella talk for many of our colleagues' accounts of their experience with the Thinking Approach shared at this conference.

14:30 – 15:00   Irina Buchinska, Daugavpis Russian Lyceum, Latvia. The Teacher's Notes on Learners' Banks

A learner-centered approach with a learner autonomy as one of its key principles has taken an important place in modern teaching/learning process. Developing learner's problem-solving and thinking skills, in our view, is a significant part of learner autonomy. Very important questions for teachers are how to shape or re-shape their way of teaching to ensure the development of both learner autonomy and thinking simultaneously with learning the subject content, what materials to use and what procedures to apply. This talk aims at presenting the experience of this integration at the EFL lessons in Daugavpils Russian Lyceum, Latvia. Work with such learning tool as Learner’s Banks will be discussed during the talk. 

15:00 – 15:30  Susan Granlund, Kirkonkylä Primary School, Finland. Integrating the Thinking Approach into the primary

English classroom. How and why?

The aim of this presentation is to show some ways in which typical tasks in the primary English (EFL) classroom can be adapted to become more creative problem-solving activities which advance not only the pupils’ language learning skills, but also their thinking skills. I aim to give examples of games, tasks and projects done, which show  how I have been using the Thinking Task Framework, a tool to help teachers plan and implement thinking lessons, discussing also how my pupils have reacted and what the outcomes have been.

15:30 – 16:00   Deirdre Jennings, Vilnius International School, Lithuania. Introducing Thinking Skills in Maths and Science.

Many students and teachers have experienced science as a subject requiring a massive memory where information content, rather than processes and skills, was the focus. However, we live in an information age where it is simply not possible to keep up with and retain all the information, old and new. The requirement now is that each person can be able to search for, identify, manipulate and manage information to solve challenges. TRIZ is an excellent basis for training young minds in learning about and applying thinking models such as ENV. I worked with middle school students aged 11-15, adapting some of their lesson cycles and tasks to incorporate thinking tools and their uses. I learned that a) middle-school students are well able to learn about thinking models, b) some models which I was applying in the science classroom were applicable across the full range of subjects i.e. the skills and processes which the students developed are general and transferrable and c) the skills learned gave better access to answering higher order type questions such as analysing, evaluating and creating.

16:00 – 16:30   COFFEE BREAK

16:30 – 17:00   Dr. Alla Nesterenko, Teacher Training & Re-Qualification Academy, Moscow, Russia. Problem-Centred

Education: Goals, Structure, Results.

This talk will introduce you to the Problem-Centred Education (PCE) based on OTSM-TRIZ. I will describe the reasons for developing this approach, as well as discuss its goals, structure and components (models and procedures). The PCE tools will be demonstrated through examples from various disciplines: language, literature, science, and maths. We will consider how the system of tools for dealing with problems should be designed and how various tasks for learning to use the tools can be easily developed. Possible approaches to evaluation and assessment, as well as some aspects of teacher education, will also be discussed. 

17:00 – 17:30   Tania Santiago, Colegio Ayalde,  Loiu, Spain & Robert Swartz, National Canter for Teaching Thinking, USA.  

Thinking-Based Learning: Teaching Students to Become Skillful Thinkers and Learners.

When teachers teach students to become skillful thinkers by infusing instruction in thinking skills into content instruction the results are dramatic: vastly improved content learning and the development of quality thinking habits. When we add to this the prompted explicit manifestation of appropriate habits of mind this enhances these results manyfold. This process, the proficient and strategic application to the regular content curriculum of appropriate Thinking Skills enhanced by productive Habits of Mind to develop thoughtful decisions, arguments, and other creative and critical products, is what we call “Thinking-Based Learning”. In our experience TBL is the most powerful educational technique that teachers can practice. It can help us to achieve the highest standards in our quest for knowing and understanding, and for acting wisely based on this knowledge and understanding.  In this presentation we will illustrate a variety of important tools that teachers use in TBL lessons, for example thinking strategy maps, specially designed graphic organizers, metacognitive structures, and collaborative thinking strategies. We will do this by showing examples of infusion lessons that teachers k – 12 in the USA, Spain, and Chile have developed and taught successfully in their classrooms. We will also illustrate the use of special lesson planning organizers that highlight the important ingredients in such TBL lessons.

17:30 – 18:00   Prof. Carol Mc Guinness, Queen's University Belfast, Nothern Ireland. A Metacognitively-Rich Pedagogy for

Thinking Classrooms.

The concept of a metacognitively-rich pedagogy emerged from classroom research and development work with primary school teachers in Northern Ireland, who had adopted an infusion approach to teaching thinking.   Frameworks and classroom strategies were developed with teachers to enhance children’s thinking across-the-curriculum.  A particular focus was on the analyses of classroom dialogue and interactions that helped the pupils to ‘go metacognitive’.    Video recordings of thinking lessons were conducted with a sample of 21 teachers who were teaching 8-9 year old children.   Analyses of the videos showed that the meaning of ‘metacognitively-rich’ goes beyond cognition and language to include both the social and physical resources – and indeed the values – in the classroom.  The paper will illustrate the concept through examples of classroom practices, classroom artifacts, and classroom dialogue.

18:00 - 18:30   Dr. Johannes Theiner. The president of the European Parents' Association. The Parental Role in Fostering a

Child's Creativity & Thinking Skills

2009 was declared the “European Year of Creativity and Innovation”. Hardly any valuable concepts were delivered although the importance of the topic was generally accepted.
Developing the individuals’ thinking skills seems to offer a superior approach. Could not education provide better development of these? Formal school systems might become able but it will take long time to transform their traditional concepts. Informal and non-formal learning provide aalternative routes.
Parents as “Primary Educators of their Children” have to play a crucial role in the development of their child. The adjustment to the individual child’s needs and talents provides the most effective and motivating learning space
EPA entered an exciting and promising partnership with the project “Parents As Successful teacherS”. This combines EPA’s core-paradigm with the concept of “Active Thinking” to provide plurilingualism. These three important aspects integrate to individual development according to the challenges of a global world.

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