Problem situation 4:  Avoiding Hunt for Fast-Food Thinking Materials

Continuation of the post "Mistakes of a Novice TA Teacher"



As it has already been mentioned, when we work with grammar within the Thinking Approach (TA) we work with the system of grammar tasks. The system consists of 7 parts each having several tasks, where every task is connected with each other. All the systems developed within the TA are available on the website ( Even though the systems are available, this is NOT, as I call it, the fast food material which can be taken as it is, brought to the classroom and is expected to perform miracles. You must adjust the material according to your specific classroom situation and the level of your own professional competence of working with the TA materials.

Practice & Difficulties

In my first-year practical experience with the Thinking Approach, I was so happy to have the ready systems that I just expected them to work on their own. I started doing the first task of the system without taking into account the specific situation of my classroom and my own understanding of the system. As a result, I did not cope with a difficult existing system, which was too complex for my own understanding and too unclear for my learners.

Possible Solution

The teacher should definitely not expect any “fast-food materials” when we are talking about teaching thinking within the Thinking Approach. Especially, when s/he only starts working with the new approach. Once you decide to work with grammar you need to make the relevant adjustments to the system you wish to work with in your classroom. As a result of the first year of working with the grammar within the Thinking Approach, I came up with the following adjustment to the system (which you are welcome to consider for your purposes but I would not recommend to take it as another ‘fast-food material’ if it does not correspond to your classroom and professional situation).

  • Step 1 – give students 12 sentences and make them answer concept questions about these 12 sentences (with your help where needed).
  • Step 2 – make students check if their answers are consistent (if they provided the same answer for the same grammar forms).
  • Step 3 – build the first draft model showing the first step as an example/make hypothesis based on the analysis of the concept questions
  • Step 4 – check your hypothesis/model by doing the exercise 
  • Step 5 – adjust the hypothesis according to the results
  • Step 6 – check your hypothesis/model by doing another exercise 
  • It is important that your students come with the first SUCCESS here. So you might wish to give them slightly easier sentences/exercises to make them feel something works.

In addition, we should not forget, that when students only start working with the Creative Grammar Technology, one of the first aims of the teacher is to make learners experience a new procedure, new way of working and a new way of thinking. Thus, we should be careful about the level of a challenge we make our students face in the beginning. If the teacher is competent him/herself in working with the system, then the level can be much higher since the teacher will know the procedures of bringing students to the finally desired result. Whereas, if the teacher only starts working with the Creative Grammar Technology and students have never experienced the ‘thinking grammar’, then increasing the challenge too much will only cause additional problems in the classroom.

P.S. If you have never been dealing with the grammar system within the Thinking Approach (TA) and do not understand the offered steps then I invite you to consult the TA website (Creative Grammar Technology).



Problem situation 1: Teaching Thinking Explicitly 
Problem situation 2: Structuring the Non-Linear Teaching-Learning Process 
Problem situation 3: Getting Prepared for Building Solutions in Grammar
Problem situation 5: Evaluating Thinking Results


# Alexander Sokol 2012-10-23 15:44
Renata, can you say a few words on the reason for your adjustments to deal with Part 4 of the grammar system only?
Are there any recommendation for teachers to help them understand the grammar system for successful implementation in the classroom?
# Renata Jonina 2012-12-19 20:37
I believe that working with Part 4 without my adjustments asks for a better competence in organising this kind of 'inventive' work. Since I was not competent, I decreased the challenge for both myself and my students and simplified the procedure, broke it down into smaller chunks which I was able to handle.

I think I posted my recommendations under "Problem situation 3: Getting Prepared for Building Solutions in Grammar". And I still believe the teacher should break the system into smaller, manageable chunks. Unfortunately, I do not have better recommendations so far and I did not succeed yet in identifying other 'chunks' apart from those mentioned above.
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