A Thinking Classroom
Pupils need to be thoroughly engaged with their own learning to develop skills and capabilities. A Thinking Classroom gives pupils opportunities to practise their skills, to reflect on their achievements, and to recognise their strengths and weaknesses. This requires an approach that goes beyond traditional methods.
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Creating a Thinking Classroom
It is essential to create the right environment for a Thinking Classroom. You can do this by moving classroom practices towards a more pupil-centred and skills-integrated curriculum and using active strategies.
Here are seven useful classroom strategies:
view1. Set Open-Ended Challenges
Encourage pupils to:
- offer reasoned decisions;
- offer solutions and possibilities;
- respond creatively;
- develop more autonomy; and
- value individual differences.
view2. Make Thinking Important
If we want pupils to see thinking as important, we need to provide time and space for it to happen in the classroom. The classroom culture should promote, rather than discourage, thinking and creativity.
view3. Effective Questioning
Questions and questioning techniques influence pupils’ achievement, attitudes and thinking skills. The level of the question tends to result in a similar level of answer. Achievement can improve if high level questions are accompanied by wait-time, redirection, and probing techniques.
view4. Make Thinking Explicit
It is important to explain the skills and capabilities in the learning intentions to the pupils. Pupils should recognise their importance. This creates a strong link between the skills and capabilities and Assessment for Learning.
Imagine learning to dance when all the dancers around you are invisible. We learn much by watching, imitating and adapting what we see. Thinking is invisible. It needs to be brought into the open and talked about.
view5. Enable Collaborative Learning
Collaborative learning has both a cognitive and a social function. As Costa points out,‘Together, individuals generate and discuss ideas, eliciting thinking that surpasses individual effort. Together and privately, they express different perspectives, agree and disagree, point out and resolve discrepancies, and weigh alternatives. Because people grow via this process, collegiality is a crucial climate factor.
view6. Promote Independent Learning
Effective pupils regulate their own learning, by:
- observing what they are able to do;
- evaluating this in relation to agreed or self-set goals; and
- planning what to do next.
This requires the pupils to develop a variety of planning, organisational, social, and metacognitive skills.
view7. Making Connections
Enabling pupils to connect or apply the concepts and skills learned in one classroom to other topics, subjects and contexts is one of the primary goals of education. This does not happen automatically. Pupils generally do not make these connections. You should plan and explain opportunities for transfer to your pupils.