Here I’d like to share how my understanding of TA has changed since my first meeting with this approach at the conference in September 2012 and after a year of attempts to implement elements of TA in my work with 4-7 year old children.  I leave the column “tomorrow” under a question mark, meaning that my thoughts can develop and lead to new revelations.


 September 2012

Now (February 2014)

What changed in me





My perception of TA   was very emotional – I thought that implementing thinking would save the   world. I thought that teachers lacked it in their practice.


Now I am aware of   the fact that many teachers use thinking and develop this skill with their   learners. It is widespread among maths and science teachers. TA brings   thinking into a language class. This idea changes focus of the process of   learning a language, stressing the idea, that language functions as a means   of solving problems.



Earlier I didn’t pay   attention to logical tasks while working with language. Now I notice them and   use (sorting, odd-one-out, strong questions)





It seemed that   implementing a few elements of thinking (odd-one-out, sorting) into existing   tasks would be TA


Now I am aware of   the fact, that “approach” is a system. It develops from simple to more   complicated. One should develop and apply a strategy for reaching TA aims.   Otherwise TA won’t happen.


I stopped giving my   students occasional sorting tasks.

I concentrated on   the four basic parameters – colour, material, size and shape.



Students’ age


It seemed that TA   works with school children (or preschoolers – 5-6 year olds)



I try to implement   elements of TA (sorting) with 4 y.o. It goes slowly.


I use the TA module   with all my groups (6-7 y.o., 5-6 y.o., 5 y.o., mixed group 4-6 y.o.), but not   with everyone I teach




Now I would like to share changes in my methods while using TA. My first attempts to implement elements of TA were in February 2013. Now, when a year passed, I have some results to compare.


February 2013

Now (February 2014)


Types of tasks

Sorting, Odd – one -out

Sorting, Odd – one –out,   Yes-No (from October 2013)


Level of challenge

I easily decreased   the level of challenge, when children were stuck.

I am aware that   challenge can be either increased or decreased depending on a learning situation   and a student.



Poor context for   motivating my students.

From September 2013 I   used a “save a friend” scenario, when ss had to overcome difficulties (TA   tasks – sorting, odd-one out) to reach the goal of saving Birdie, but didn’t create   proper relationships between the friend (Mediatior Birdie) and  students, that’s why some were not really   interested in saving it.

Now my ss sit on a   train and we make a journey, stopping at four stations “Material”, “Size”, “Shape”,   “Colour”. They like travelling and enthusiastically search for objects in the   classroom at each station with “I spy…” game.



As I said, from   September 2013 I started to use two mediators – a language character Bear and   a thinking character Birdie, but didn’t create proper relationships between   them and students. When I realized that they were detached from the world of   learners, I took them away and introduced a new character – a hare Bunjie

 A new character Bunjie (both language and   thinking at the moment) , likes to talk – he greets the children, have a   small talk with them and their toys. Bunjie likes to play and invents new   searching games for students. He speaks in the first person.



Task formulation


Poor task   formulation due to lack of proper preparation and due to poor  understanding of the process of building TA   tasks


Tasks formulation is   clearer now ( at the station “Material” ss have to search for “wooden”   objects, if Bunjie says so)

I am influenced by   the Alla Nesterenko’s work “The Country of Riddles” and most of task ideas I   took from there.


TA aims

List of separate TA   aims for the lesson

I concentrate on   four basic parameters now to make ss become aware of them and teach  to notice these parameters and make simple   riddles using them.



Clarification of   parameters


Poor clarification   of parameters due to lack of understanding what is a parameter.


Now the notion   becomes more clear to me, thanks to comments of my colleagues. When we play   the “find the pair” game with clothes, we use the division barefoot – wearing   shoes, instead of wearing shoes – not wearing shoes.




Generalization at   STEP 2 (how such a task could be approached)


Poor understanding   of the issue


We reflect with ss   on what we did. Only a few ss could say that we were searching for objects,   others named the features of parameters (we searched for red, wood…).





“I can” measurement   of reaching TA objectives


“I can” measurement



Group dynamics and   Teacher’s role


I felt that as a   Teacher I had to encourage ss to try any tasks and accepted fast-food   answers. I was also afraid that I would loose my class, if I let them think   for too long.


Now I want to make   my ss think and not to be afraid of any tasks. I increase room for thinking,   and let myself and my students be silent. I also taught them how to ask for   help.


Group activities

Children work   individually

Children still   mostly work individually, but elements of team competition appear regularly.



# Irina Buchinska 2014-02-15 12:19
Diana, thank you for your summary.
I would like to ask you a couple of questions.

1. Could you specify what similarity you see between the TA and teaching maths and science?
2. What benefits if any do you see in introducing the TA in teaching languages?

3. I would introduce one more parameter - the results of your work with kids, are there any changes compared with Jan 2013?

# Susan Granlund 2014-02-21 00:10
Hi Diana,

This is a very interesting post and I can see many similarities with how my use of TA has changed. Although I'm teaching 9 - 12 year-olds English, they are beginners (the 9 year-olds) and I think some of the things we've been doing are similar. How much do you use TA in your classes? Do you use it most of the time or just for some lessons?

It would be interesting to know!
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