Thinking aims

To see if, by taking a different approach to how I used the thinking tools,I could increase the room for thinking, and fit the that I am applying tasks closer to the three steps of the framework. My aim was really to see if I could produce better results with the students by introducing thinking tools only when they really needed them.

Lesson Organization

This was a Grade Nine lesson, (14 years old) and part of a unit on Art History I have just started teaching. The summative task for this unit is for students to produce a power point for younger students. I had already given them a short lecture on the changes in Western Art since the Renaissance, focusing mostly on the 20th century and linking them to changes in society. I now want them to research individually on the topic they will present. I started by asking the students to write the algorithm for researching constructivism. They were immediately stuck. With a bit of encouragement most of them managed to write three or four steps. They then had to swap algorithms with their neighbour and see if they could complete the task. After this, they were to try again, and all of them managed many more steps. The next stage was for them to cut out all their steps and in small groups put together the steps they felt belonged together and then give a generic name for this group. Once they had done this, and were feeling pretty confident, I then introduced a new limitation, no google or other generic search engine was to be used. They were all stuck again. I ended the lesson with getting them to consider the steps that would belong to a new grouping - How to select the relevant information to make notes about.


I was very pleased with the way the lesson worked out. Normally I start by assuming what the students know and giving them sorting tasks to start constructing an algorithm. By asking them to start by creating the algorithm, it allowed me to see if they actually knew how to do this already (if they did I wouldn`t have to teach it) and where I would in future lessons have to introduce the thinking tools to help them in the areas where they were stuck. I also felt it succeed because they found the task difficult and as new limitations were added they kept getting stuck. The groupings for the steps were good and included things such as turning on the computer, investigation, reflection and writing. I also heard them discussing important elements of conducting research like "where would note taking go?" and "what about books?". I was quite horrified by their approach to researching an unknown topic, not one of them thought to ask the teacher for an explanation or definition, the first port of call for all of them is wikipedia or google.

I am now planning to continue this by creating thinking tasks related to the new stage I introduced and on the basics of constructivism.

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