Thursday, 16 October 2014

Chapter 2: Putting Thinking First

I've managed to breeze through the second chapter, and wanted to quickly jot down my thoughts. First of all, the authors talk about using thinking to 'foster students' engagement with ideas'.  To this end, teachers should create opportunities for thinking and make that thinking visible. 

I must admit, I was sceptical about how you go about making thinking 'visible' when I started this journey, but I think I'm getting it now. It's mostly about encouraging dialogue, listening, and genuine interaction within classrooms. By engaging and listening to our students, we can better support them in their own learning. 

Essentially, it's all about modelling good thinking skills. The authors make a good point when they say that you couldn't aspire to be a great dancer without ever seeing someone dance; it makes total sense then that students can't be great thinkers if we, as teachers, aren't great thinkers ourselves. Just as we scaffold other skills in lesson, thinking needs scaffolding too! 

This requires naming and noticing when good thinking takes place. Instead of praising a response as 'Good' we should instead praise how they got there; for example, saying 'I like how you used your prior knowledge to make that connection!'. It seems so simple, yet clearly could be really effective! 

They briefly touch on the types of questioning teachers use as well, and discuss how, actually, we should allow students to question US more often. Doing so would allow for more inquiry and discovery. 

Constructive questions, ones which challenge students to see things from other perspectives, are mentioned as well. I got a really good idea from the text, in terms of a display I'll put up that challenges students to see each story or fact from another perspective. With anything, there is always another side to the story! 

They also provide a real gem of a question with 'Whst makes you say that?'. This question, used well, will really push students to justify their choices in a way that isn't threatening. I'm definitely
Going to use that one more often! 

Finally, they explore the act of listening, stating that teachers often don't listen enough. They quote the poet Alice Duer Miller (1915) who said, 'listening is not merely not talking, though even that is beyond most of our powers; it means taking a vigorous, human interest in what is being told us.' I love this quote! I almost want to put it up in my classroom as well! It's something staff and students alike could take note of.