Conference report

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The fourth TA Teachers Conference, Learning to Teach Thinking  took place at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Riga, Latvia, on 21-22 September, 2018. The conference was supported by the Nordplus Programme and it was attended by 56 delegates from 10 countries. In addition to 10 talks and 9 workshops, this year the participants had an opportunity to attend an interactive exhibition of teachers from Finland, Lithuania and Latvia working on the development of thinking skills. This new format received excellent feedback and we intend to keep it for our future conferences.

Interested participants were able to attend one of two pre-conference tutorials. Dr Alexander Sokol, from TA Group, Latvia, offered the delegates an opportunity to be in the learners' shoes and experience the spirit of a Thinking Approach classroom. Wine was the object of investigation and the group spent time learning on how one can pair food and wine to ensure the best combination. Sarah Seleznyov and Stuart Twiss from Let's Think Forum, UK, introduced the participants to the first results of the ACTS project by sharing illustrations from the UK classrooms and inviting the audience to reflect on the moments of thinking they noticed and discuss what helped the teachers build the culture of thinking in their lessons. 

The first conference day included two plenary sessions and four workshops. In the opening plenary Dr Alexander Sokol offered a model for seeing progression in competence development and demonstrated its difference from well-known models underlying curriculum design, such as revised Bloom's taxonomy, SOLO and Kolb's learning cycle. During the first workshop slot Irina Bučinska and Natalia Kovilina from the Daugavpils Russian Lyceum shared a possible approach to helping learners ask good quality questions at various stages of competence development. Hilppa Jankama from Rauma, Finland considered the role of collaboration in the development of thinking. During the second workshop slot Stuart Twiss let the audience experience the importance of collaboration and good climate when working on maths problems. Leah Crawford and Michael Walsh presented the audience with a Let's Think English lesson and shared information on the research behind the approach. The closing plenary given by Sarah Seleznyov presented a teacher education model employed in Lets Think. This was followed by reflection on the learning experience in small groups and a conference reception when the delegates had an opportunity to further develop the topics tackled during the day.

The second conference day started with an interactive exhibition of teachers from Latvia, Lithuania and Finland who shared their materials for teaching thinking in various subjects and demonstrated examples of students' works. This part of the conference was especially appreciated by many teachers who indicated that it was really useful to see the materials and talk to the teachers who developed them. The exhibition was followed by seven talks and four workshops on various aspects of teaching thinking.  The day concluded by the conference dinner in the centre of Riga, which was attended by two thirds of the delegates and gave plenty of opportunities for informal networking and establishing new contacts.

Most delegates were satisfied with the new format and the homelike atmosphere of the conference and are planning to attend the next TA Teachers conference that will take place in August 2020. You can pre-register your interest here

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