Teach children to think


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Some practical suggestions for educators on the teaching of thinking skills to children.

Published in: Education, Technology

Teach children to think

  1. 1. TeachingChildrenTo Think Tony Ryan Learning Consultanttony@tonyryan.com.au
  2. 2. This is a condensedversion of a workshopthat I offer to teachers around the world. These strategies can just as easily be used by parents; and by trainers / presenters who work with adult groups!
  3. 3. Four Key Approaches To 1. Develop positive Teaching Kids Todispositions for thinking and learning Think 2. Generate the highest levels of intellectual rigour and inquiry 3. Combine proven frameworks,with practical strategies that are in context 4. Enhance thinking with ICT
  4. 4. Develop positivedispositions for thinking and learning
  5. 5. Positive dispositions for thinking and learning??• Skills are not enough. A disposition for wanting / needing to think is critical. Make thinking spicy!• Generate an enthusiasm for intellectual play and curiosity• Encourage explicit and direct reasoning• Give children time to think• Show them how to plan ahead and get organised• Help them to study the brain at both a physiological and psychological level
  6. 6. Teach students to self-talk• Self-talk is a specific awareness of their own thinking• For children, begin with an explicit lesson• Write up words such as: “I’m a legend”• Then ask them to self-talk those words, without any sound or without moving their lips• Encourage them to do this self-talk when they are working on a mental task
  7. 7. Student Passions??!• Have you asked every one of your children about their passions in life?• What are the Big Three interests for the age group you’re teaching this year?• Where and how do you compile data about their interests?• Where specifically do you build those interests into the classroom environment?
  8. 8. Generate the highest levels ofintellectual rigour and inquiry
  9. 9. Here is a powerful process for developing an intellectually stimulating question It’s called the ‘Intellectual Rubber Band’1. Brainstorm the hardest question inthe world about the topic being studied2. Now adjust it downwards until it canbe used with your class
  10. 10. Engage children in constant inquiry - get them wondering! Challenge them toconjecture on the reasonsfor specific issues eg these bricked-in windows Hint: It’s to do with the expression: “Daylight robbery”
  11. 11. A process for student inquiryQ. What’s our purpose for doing this inquiry?Q. What do we already know about this issue?Q. What are our questions?Q. What learning steps will we take?Q. How will we do useful research?Q. How will we share our findings?
  12. 12. Play the Socrates GameBreak students into pairs: * Student A offersperspectives on a specific topic • Why do you believe...? * Student B continually asks any / all of the • Could you give an example of that? Socratic questions in • Are you suggesting...? context • What reasons do you have for saying that? • Could you clarify that comment? • Why did you find that interesting? • How do you know that?
  13. 13. Zestful inquiries!!• When possible, develop an inquiry about passions in their lives• Generate interest with a provocative intro lesson• Give your inquiry units some exciting titles (name them after a movie or a piece of music)• Develop an assessment task that is intellectually stimulating
  14. 14. Develop rich focus questions• They can be: Philosophical / provocative / quirky / thought-provoking / unusual / intriguing• Examples of focus questions? • What is the price of life? • Are we really what we eat? • How could computer games create a better world? • How does a trend affect our choices? • Does happily ever after really exist?
  15. 15. Combine provenframeworks,with practical strategies that are in context
  16. 16. We mustdeliver on 4 Educational delivery mechanismscore areas in Curriculum: Pedagogy: learning: What is How it’s taught taught Assessment: Reporting: How it’s How we give measured feedback
  17. 17. Some frameworksfor ‘thinking’ within the pedagogy • Blooms taxonomy • Williams taxonomy • Marzano’s taxonomy • Habits Of Mind • Thinkers Keys
  18. 18. Skills for thinking• Creative (adapt, imagine, predict, invent, hypothesise, challenge, redefine, expand)• Critical (synthesise, analyse, generalise, critique, examine, infer, interpret, classify)• Metacognitive (evaluate, reflect, summarise, review, self-talk, develop plans, query) • Adapted from: Learner-Centred Assessment (Wilson & Murdoch, 2006); and, Thinkers Keys revised version (Ryan, 2007)
  19. 19. Key issues with‘thinking’ in classrooms• It’s not an optional extra!!• It’s not just for smart kids!• The quality of thinking will determine the quality of their learning retention• Teacher modelling of quality thinking is a critical influence on student thinking
  20. 20. Thinkers Keys20 practical thinking strategies for enhancing thinking (thinkerskeys.com)
  21. 21. An example of the10 critical thinking strategies
  22. 22. An example of the creative thinking strategies
  23. 23. The 20 strategies 23
  24. 24. The secret to quality thinking? Use the strategies in sequences. Here’s anexample of a problem-solving approach. 24
  25. 25. Enhancethinkingwith ICT
  26. 26. ICT is not 2002 - Use a large piece of cardboard; cut out some enough. The magazine photos; copy text learning has tofrom an encyclopedia (and yet, little idea of context) be intellectually rigorous 2012 - Construct a wiki; steal images from google; plagiarise from a Cheat Site (and yet, little idea of context) It’s not necessarily the ICT that generates intellectual rigour. It’s the quality of the teaching practice
  27. 27. Name at least 20 different uses for a cellphone These devicesencourage all of us tocreate new k’ledge eg Apps We’re moving fromKnowledge Consumption to Knowledge Co- Creation
  28. 28. Using ICT tools• How could you advance children’s thinking with your own cellphone?• ... or with a camera being used by the children?• ... or with a FlipCamera being used by the children?
  29. 29. Transformationeg co-creating on Redefinitiongroup projects Tech allows for the creation of new tasks,with other classes previously inconceivableworld-wideeg to make useof multi-media Modificationin highly Tech allows for significant task redesignenhanced ways Enhancement Augmentation eg using spell Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with check or word functional improvement count Substitution eg Typing out Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with your work no functional change with a word processor
  30. 30. This is a great visual tool, but sometimes, not much thinkingis involved when it is only used to create a fancy image
  31. 31. Get some thinking going eg place anarticle into wordle, and then analyse the author’s text choices
  32. 32. 21st C learning •Behaviourism theories?? •Constructivism How do you •Instructivism generate •Cognitivism ‘connectivism’? •Connectivism
  33. 33. Visual Stimulus• Most (?!) of your students will be visual learners• Students process images up to 10 000 times faster than text• Powerful recall through image: 90% recall of images after 72 hrs; over 60% after one year• Develop a visual database of their ongoing achievements and / or daily learnings
  34. 34. One photo / day to represent the mostpowerful learning that day
  35. 35. Some follow-up options• Revisit these notes / handouts at least once in the next week• After 2 wks, discuss what you have placed into practice• Use any worthwhile ideas within a week