Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lifelong and Self Regulated Learners

Randomly interview 32 children from 16 classes about their learning goals with no warning and allowing no prompts and what would you expect? I expected they might know something about their learning- like perhaps a few goals.
What I found was really exciting.
The majority (80%) could talk to me about their goals and next steps in reading, writing,maths and even a Key Competency (especially self management) goal.
These children could articulate what they were learning, why they were learning it and how they would know if they were successful. What a transition from 10 years ago when we "Did" learning to children. Now we engage and empower them, we encourage them to take responsibility for their own learning and we have an expectation that they can communicate their progress.
The aim of developing lifelong learners is very admirable, the reality- seeing it in practice is awesome!
The next step- if I, or someone asks a child What are you learning at the moment and why?"- can they respond in a meaningful manner, is there a close link between what the teacher was intending (the learning intention) and the learning that is taking place?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Skillful Thinkers

I recently had the pleasure of attending a workshop by Edward de Bono in Belfast Northern Ireland. His presentation regarding "Thought full lesson design" really resonated with me. Two key aspects struck a note:
1. To ensure that we are fully aware and plan for the understandings that we want the children to develop in a rich context
2. To plan to develop skillful thinkers by the language we as teachers use in the lessons as well as the teaching strategies we teach the children.
It sounds so simple yet it is so critical. What are we trying to do if not to develop skillful thinkers?
Yet to do this a teacher needs to consider:
- the type of thinking that is required for the child to be successful
- replacing "I want you to think about..." with " I want you to consider or debate, or discuss, or analyse etc..."
- the understandings (and what this actually means) to be developed and then the process to achieve this- this goes well beyond rote knowledge and is based on a conceptual curriculum
That is we become more precise about the type of thinking we are asking to child to engage in.
At Windsor we staff have placed large copies of words to use in place of "think" on the wall to provide prompts to themselves and children. Just one small step but I believe a powerful one. In addition they have planned for the type of thinking that will be required in the lesson and they have continued with developing specific deep understandings of concept based curriculum in their Inquiry Modules.
Thank you Edward for complimenting our work and providing some very useful insights to develop our children's thinking!