Strand A. Innovations in the classroom I

Saturday, 20 September, Room "Amata"

Chair persons: Irina Bučinska, Daugavpils Russian Lyceum, Latvia and Susan Granlund, Kirkonkylä School, Finland


09:00 - 09:40    Irina Bučinska, Daugavpils Russian Lyceum, Latvia

Three Steps to Thinking

The workshop aims at sharing experience of implementing Thinking Approach to teaching English with learners of the age 12-15 years old. The workshop focuses on using the Thinking Task Framework (TTF) as a tool for organising  a teaching process which integrates the English language skills and thinking skills development. During the workshop the participants will get materials for working with grammar and texts and will have an opportunity to work with the materials within the TTF, share their opinion and get answers to their questions.


09:45 - 10:05   Susan Granlund, Kirkonkylä School, Finland

Integrating Thinking in 3d Grade Beginner English Classes

The aim of this talk is to describe specifically how I have tried to integrate thinking activities into my third grade beginners’ English classes, in such a way that they might lead to longer- term improvement in both thinking and language skills, leading also to more creativity in the classroom.  I will describe what my aims in the classroom were, what I did, how the pupils responded, and where I felt the approach was successful or not. I will also consider what constraints there were, what changes I would make in the future and how I plan to continue.

10:10 - 10:30   Diana Bolgare, Latvia

Thinking with very young learners. Playful ways to the Thinking Approach with 4-6 year olds

This talk is for those who believe thinking can be taught to very young learners in the language classroom. The presenter will speak about playful ways and forms she implemented in her practice with 4-6 year old learners. The Thinking Approach, which the author has been practicing for more than one year, revealed that certain steps and techniques should be used to make learners think. During this talk, the presenter will share her experience of using the Thinking Task Framework with very young learners and reflect on measuring their results.


10:30 - 11:00    COFFEE BREAK

11:00 - 11:20   Natalia Kovilina, Daugavpils Russian Lyceum and Marina Bagrova, Riga Herder School, Latvia.

Approaching Russian Grammar through the Thinking Approach perspective

The presentation about applying the Thinking Approach (TA) at the lessons of Russian as native language. The authors will share their ideas about advantages and difficulties of an integrated development of language and thinking skills when learning syntax. They will demonstrate how using a system of tasks in Creative Grammar Technology helps a teacher change the content of the native language learning course into the direction of a functional approach and help a learner become the subject of learning. The authors will also discuss how learners acquire the ENV model as a major tool for dealing with tasks that are new for them.


11:25 - 11:45   Olga Šestakova, Daugavpils Russian Lyceum, Latvia

Creating and Working with Writing Tasks based on the Thinking Approach

The presentation will be devoted to creating and working with writing tasks in form 5 based on some TA principles. There will be presented one example of the systems of tasks tried out in forms 5 at Daugavpils Russian Lyceum. There will be mentioned several pieces of advice for those who would like to make a similar system of tasks on their own. The presentation will contain a number of graphs/charts used during the work with the two systems. There will be mentioned the comments from the “experts” as tips for creating a system of writing tasks.

11:50 - 12:30   Kirsi Urmson, Rauman normaalikoulu, Susan Granlund and Taina Pertola, Kirkonkylä School, Finland

Games and activities to promote thinking 

The aim of this workshop is to demonstrate to participants some games and activities which can help teachers to understand and be able to implement some aspects of the Thinking Approach in their own classrooms. These have been used on the Finnish STEP course over the past two years. As a primary teacher, a language teacher and a special needs teacher we hope to be able to show how these same activities can be adapted to different levels and subjects. Throughout the workshop the audience will take part in games and activities and reflect on how they can lead to the use of thinking models such as ENV, and how they form a part of the Thinking Task Framework.


12:30 - 13:30    LUNCH BREAK

13:30 - 13:50   Kirsi Urmson, Rauman normaalikoulu, Juli Aerila and Anne Keskitalo, Turku University, Finland

Thinking Approach into the Teaching Practice by Combining Visual Arts and Language Studies

The presentation will explain how multisensory walk as a method  and Thinking Approach  were combined to create a learning environment where a joined plan of two subjects would give more time and room for learning thinking skills. Two class teacher trainees from the Teacher Training School of Turku University in Rauma used a multisensory walk in the Unesco World Heritage Site of Old Rauma as a learning environment for combining the teaching of thinking skills, visual art and mother tongue.  Multisensory walk and pedagogical grammar were the methods that were brought in by the university teachers Anne Keskitalo and Juli Aerila and thinking skills by class teacher Kirsi Urmson.  A different approach in the practice gave the tutors and the trainees tools for bringing thinking skills in the classroom and opened up their understanding about teacher’s role in creating a skills based learning environment for the future needs of the pupils.


13:55 - 14:15   Russell Grigg and Ms Helen Lewis, University of Wales, UK

Developing reflective teachers: a problem-based learning approach in teacher education

Costa and Kallick (2008) identify intelligent behaviours known as ‘Habits of Mind’. These habits (or dispositions to learn) share many commonalities with the academic and personal qualities and thinking skills we seek to develop in our student teachers. There is research evidence regarding the use of Habits of Mind in primary and secondary schools around the world (eg Costa, Bishop and Kravits, 2008; Wiggins and McTighe, 2007). This suggests that promoting these intelligent behaviours is of benefit to learners. However, relatively little has been written about these habits of mind in higher education contexts.  This presentation examines how Problem Based Learning (PBL) scenarios can help students reflect on and develop these habits of mind successfully.


14:20 - 15:00   Anita Backhouse and Stuart Twiss, Let's Think Forum, UK

Our approach to teacher development in Let's Think

We will describe the model of support used with schools who are taking up Let’s Think. The approach has evolved over 20 years and is aimed at sustaining and continuing Let’s Think practice beyond the training.  Over time our approach has shifted from notions of specialist coaching and senior management feedback. Instead the teachers adopt Let’s Think pedagogy through joint lesson planning, observing lessons through visits and video recordings and reflecting on the experience of students. Teachers study the psychological basis for the approach and engage in reflective intersession tasks. Teachers are expected to experiment together with the approach, reflect on those experiments and then and refine and repeat the experience to own the change in their practice. To that end some training instruction is reduced to encourage ownership. Support is also offered to the school and its senior leaders to help them organise this peer to peer activity and to monitor progress in teacher development.

The workshop will explore the components of the approach, the tools used in training. The process of helping teachers develop from ‘novice’ towards ‘expert’ will be illustrated through the experience of teachers, described by the presenters, who are tutors and teachers, and through video recordings of training sessions.


15:00 - 15:30    COFFEE BREAK


15:30 - 15:55   Renata Jonina, TA Group, Latvia

Developing competence in teaching for thinking. What do expert teachers do differently? 

The study addresses the problem of fostering school teachers’ competence in the integrated development of learners’ subject-matter skills and inventive thinking skills.
A group of school teachers has been learning to integrate the thinking skills development into their classrooms by following a specifically designed pedagogical framework - the Thinking Task Framework (TTF). Even though teachers have been eager to bring the change into their classrooms, the empirical experience shows that there are many essential differences in how teachers who are experts in the approach and those who are new to it transform the steps of the framework into their classroom instruction.  During my paper presentation, I will present the identified essential dimensions of instructional and interaction patterns of expert teachers who follow the TTF and will contrast them to those of non-expert teachers. The presented patterns will be supported by video fragments from the lessons.

16:00 - 17:00   Open Reflection

Teaching thinking: impossible, challenging, easy (Towards effective models for teacher education for thinking)

Two years ago a group of professionals from the Baltic-Nordic region started an international project 'STEP to thinking' aimed at helping teachers incorporate the development of thinking skills and dispositions into their everyday practice. During this session we would like to reflect on our experience of working with teachers and add new understanding to the vision of the successful process of developing a teacher who is a true facilitator of thinking. To achieve this, we would like to invite everyone who is interested in teacher education for thinking, benefit from your knowledge and experience and share some of the lessons we have learned. As a result, we hope to identify areas of common interest for further collaboration in the field of teaching for thinking among the representatives of different countries and approaches.

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