Thursday, 16 October 2014

Initial thoughts of 'Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding and Independence for All Learners'

What a day! I've spent a considerable amount of time this afternoon doing research on pupil premium, mostly looking at the official documentation/policies from the Department of Education and Ofsted, as well as the provisions currently in place at my school. I will say more on the topic in later posts, I'm sure, since my research question (RQ from here on in) will (hopefully) revolve around a pupil premium focus re: feedback. Again, more on this will come in later posts, but I wanted to give you a heads up.

In other news, I am continuing my research into visible thinking skills re: making learning more 'visible' within my lessons, as part of my CPD. In that vein, I have started to read Richhart, Church and Morrison's 'Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding and Independence in All Learners' (2011).

While produced in America, I've been intrigued by what the authors have said so far about our (teachers) ability (or lack thereof, in some cases) to foster engagement with thinking itself. They start by getting you to think about the term 'think' itself. What does it mean to think? What do teachers want their students to do when they tell them to 'think'? What do the students 'feel' the teacher wants them to do when they are asked to 'think'?

Are the two things the same? I'd argue that sometimes they're not; that's where the problem lies! I get the impression that the text is aiming to help teachers re-evaluate what they mean when they ask students to 'think'; thinking shouldn't be about rote memorisation,  but instead about accessing higher level skills that require our minds to grow and expand.

I haven't yet got past the first chapter, but I am quite interested to see where the text takes me. Any interesting tidbits or advice I find will be shared here, so fear not.

Update: After finishing the first chapter, I've really started to think about my separate, non-Masters student-voice project. I'd really like to foster greater student metacognition by starting up a student-researcher group that expres 'thinking' around the school. The authors of the text describe an activity where they get students to respond to the following question: What is thinking? When you tell someone you are thinking, what kind of things might actually be going through your head?'   

After discussing group findings, it would be interesting to then think about the different types of thinking that happen around the school, in various subjects. We could explore ways that students could become better thinkers, sharing the findings in assembly or something... But I'm getting ahead of myself. This is what happens when I read interesting, inspiring texts. I get loads of ideas that I can't carry out (yet). Still, it's good to capture the idea when it strikes! More later, I'm off to read Chapter 2!