As announced last week, I am delighted to introduce Gerard Alford and the first of his series of guest posts for readilearn.
Gerard is a very experienced and respected education consultant, author and education resource developer. He is passionate in promoting high-order thinking and cooperative learning through engaging and effective evidence-based teaching methods. His teaching resources inspire and support busy teachers in creating engaging pedagogy and time-saving strategies to encourage successful student outcomes.
The worth of using thinking tools is well documented; they provide a clear pathway for students to complete a given task, provide students the means to organise their research and thoughts in a systematic way, and provide teachers with a clear insight into their student’s thinking.
That said, can thinking tools also be used to facilitate deeper discussion in the Early Years? I believe so, and here’s an example in action.
Your students have just read two texts: Humpty Dumpty and Little Miss Muffet, and you now have asked them to compare these texts.
Exactly what they compare (similarities and differences) will depend on the Year level; however, at a minimum, students will be comparing the events and the characters in the texts while also sharing their feelings and thoughts (as per ACELT1783).
Today I am pleased to announce a new collaboration with itc thinkdrive. While we have been working in partnership since 2019, starting from next week, Gerard Alford, Director of itc thinkdrive, will contribute an occasional guest post to the readilearn blog.
While we are all aware of the importance of teaching critical and creative thinking and of providing opportunities for cooperative learning in the classroom, that teaching can sometimes be overpowered by the demands of content to be taught, tests to be administered, timetables to be followed, and ever-increasing standards to be achieved. However, help is close at hand with the wonderful resources on thinkdrive, and Gerard will be able to show you just how easy it is in his guest posts.
About Gerard Alford
Gerard is a very experienced and respected education consultant, author and education resource developer. He is passionate in promoting high-order thinking and cooperative learning through engaging and effective evidence-based teaching methods. His teaching resources inspire and support busy teachers in creating engaging pedagogy and time-saving strategies to encourage successful student outcomes. (For a more complete bio, click here.)
Needless to say, I am enormously excited that we will have the additional benefit of his expertise right here.
thinkdrive is an online resource for teachers with a focus on critical and creative thinking and cooperative learning. It is a collection of thousands of downloadable worksheets and templates that are designed to support your teaching of these important skills and save you hours of preparation time.
With its focus on cognitive verbs and ways of thinking about things, thinkdrive differs from many other resources available for teachers. The strategies and thinking tools are clearly explained with examples and video demonstrations that make it easy for you to implement or adjust to suit your own lessons. The tools can be applied to any content you are teaching and embedded in your lesson planning.
Each of the 60 cognitive verbs; for example, compare, contrast, calculate, explain, describe, is matched to appropriate thinking tools. The use of each thinking tool is explained with examples, templates or sentence starters. With more than thirty thinking tools in the kit, there are plenty to choose from; including, KWHL Charts. T-Charts, Y-Charts, Concept Maps, Flow Charts, and Bubble Maps. Most of the thinking tools are used effectively by students in small groups or pairs, though some can involve whole class thinking and discussion.
Other resources from itc publications
In addition to the online resource thinkdrive, itc publications have a range of other resources to support your teaching. You can find the full list of products here.
Need ideas for teaching critical and creative thinking and cooperative learning in the classroom? Find out how thinkdrive can support your teaching.
We are all aware of the importance of teaching critical and creative thinking and of providing opportunities for cooperative learning in the classroom. We know that critical and creative thinking are considered essential for life in the 21st century and, for this reason, form one of the general capabilities embedded in the Australian Curriculum. The ability to contribute productively to a team effort is also considered a highly desirable skill. These abilities are often more highly regarded by employers than academic achievement.
However, in a busy classroom with content to be taught and tests to be administered, timetables to be followed and schedules to be kept, and with ever-increasing standards to be achieved, planning for lessons developing critical and creative thinking that engage children in cooperative learning can be the item on the list that rolls over from week to week.
I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Help is close at hand with thinkdrive. If you are not already familiar with itc thinkdrive, I recommend you take a look.
Books are a great tool. So is the ability to think creatively.
Being literate is a key that opens many doors. Being able to think opens many more. You could say they are the power tools of education and success.
In his book The Outliers(recommended to me by Rowena who blogs at Beyond the Flow), Malcolm Gladwell talks about the role of intelligence in success. He says that “intelligence only matters up to a point”, and that “past that point, other things — things that have nothing to do with intelligence — must start to matter more”. He raises the question of what those things are.
He makes a suggestion to
“Write down as many different uses that you can think of for the following objects:
and calls it a “divergence test”. Rather than asking you to come up with a one right answer, a divergence test “requires you to use your imagination and take your mind in as many different directions as possible.”
Gladwell describes the test as a measure of creativity, of the ability to come up with imaginative and unique responses rather than a list of commonplace uses. He considers this imaginative thinking combined with intelligence, not intelligence alone, to be what is required to make new discoveries such as those that may be awarded Nobel Prizes.
Edward de Bono certainly thinks so. As long ago, dare I say, as the late 60s I read (and did) The Five Day Course in Thinking, a series of puzzles to help readers (thinkers) understand their thinking strategies. The puzzles in the book are divided into three sections: Insight Thinking, Sequential Thinking, and Strategic Thinking.
Over the years I read a number of de Bono’s books including but not limited to Lateral Thinking, Six Thinking Hats, How to Have a Beautiful Mind, Teach Your Child How to Think, Textbook of Wisdom andWhy I Want to Be King of Australia. I had a thirst for learning how to think, as thinking had not been encouraged and memorising content had not come easily in my younger years. Discovering that I was able to think, and think outside the box, was empowering.
I enjoyed using de Bono’s strategies and teaching them to my own children as well as to children in my classrooms over the years. His Six Thinking Hats are used in classrooms worldwide as are many others of his thinking strategies.
In this video de Bono talks about creativity, creative thinking, and thinking “outside the box”:
Tony Ryan says that we now need to think beyond the square and think “outside the dodecahedron”.
In a comment on a previous post about Lifetime Changes, Steven linked to an amusing video showing the reactions of 21st century children to our earliest computers, tools of technology. This is it in case you missed it:
I combined the notions of books,creative thinking and technology as tools for learning, productivity and success with a little bit of backward (historical) thinking to inspire my futuristic flash this week. I hope you enjoy it.
The family shuffled amongst the haphazard collection of primitive artefacts without attempting to disguise disinterest or disdain. The waiting seemed interminable in this “so-last-century” outpost.
“Haven’s seen one of these before,” they’d been told. “I’ll need to order a specialized tool as well as the part. Shouldn’t take long though. Look around while you wait.”
Confidence in the simpleton’s tools “upstairs”, even if the correct parts arrived, was as low as their interest.
“Hey look!” one called. “Is this …?”
“All destroyed centuries ago.”
“Would be worth a fortune though.’’
They opened it.
“A book!” they gasped.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.