Our experience has been that many teachers perceive their role as the deliverers of content. However, our philosophy is that we should also aim to develop thinking strategies and help students to have confidence in their cognitive ability.
By helping students to ask better questions and by developing the skills they need to tackle familiar and unfamiliar challenges, our aim is to increase the motivation to learn, explore and become independent lifelong learners.
Thinking processes are now recognised as being as important as information. The introduction of Critical and Creative Thinking as a General Capability within the Australian Curriculum has reinforced our philosophy and provided us with a framework for our thinking skills activities.
The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MYCEETA 2008) recognises that critical and creative thinking are fundamental to becoming successful learners. Thinking that is productive, purposeful and intentional is at the centre of effective learning.
(General Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum January 2012)
Thinking skills expert John Langrehr purports that students do not develop information processing strategies naturally. Instead, he refers to research which shows tremendous variety in the quality and quantity of students’ thinking strategies. Therefore, the explicit teaching of thinking skills is necessary.
In conclusion, the aim of our activities is not to teach content but to enable students to grapple with new or familiar information so that thinking becomes the focus, not knowledge acquisition.
The Thinking Skills Activities
The skills being taught in these lessons are not skills like handwriting or counting in groups of 2. These lessons are not written to teach content. The activities in these lessons are designed to develop thinking skills. The aim is to support the children as they organise their own thinking and develop the skills to be life-long learners.
The activities are accessible to all children and you will enjoy watching the children who don’t always perform well in the traditional classroom engage in the process of thinking and feel a sense of accomplishment.
None of these activities take the students onto the content descriptors of future year levels. Instead they are designed to extend and develop thinking skills and the ability to organise thoughts (metacognition).
To make the lessons successful, you as the teacher need to get involved. The activities are not designed as ‘busy work’. The more regularly you work with the children to develop thinking skills, the more independent they will become. These activities will give students the courage to take on all sorts of unfamiliar tasks, including competitions and tests.
Research confirms that thinking skills instruction improves cognitive, curricular and affective outcomes (Brookhart 2010) for students from around the world.
Brookhart, Susan M., 2010, How to assess higher order thinking skills in your classroom. ASCD.
Note to Parents
If you are looking at this website because you feel that your child could achieve more or because you believe your child is not being challenged, please be aware that some of the group activities are designed for the classroom but they could be modified to suit the home situation. No special equipment is required and all information and resources are provided. Most of the activities could easily be completed at home with a parent and one child. A note of caution however; the activities are closely aligned to the Australian Curriculum content descriptors. To expose your child to activities for higher year levels will not be advantageous, as this may lead to repetition of content. The thinking skills activities we have designed for each year level will provide extension and enrichment within the appropriate content descriptor.
Deb and Jo would love to hear from you if you have any questions using our Contact Us Form.
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