“Didn’t we do that in Year 7?”
Using reflection and our big
thinking skills to get pupils to
improve their thinking
Phil Smith
FS Consultant Bury LEA
Transferring information and
the role of understanding
Cayard forced America to the left, filling its sails with “dirty” air, then
tacked into a right hand shift…That proved to be the wrong side.
America, flying its carbon fibre/liquid crystal main and head sails, found
more pressure on the left. Cayard did not initiate a tacking duel until Il
Morgo got headed nearly a mile down the leg…Cayard did not initiate a
jibing duel to improve his position heading downwind and instead opted
for a more straight-line approach to the finish.”
1. Who forced America to the left?
2. What kind of air filled America’s sail?
3. Which boat had carbon fibre liquid crystal main and
head sail?
Transferring information and
the role of understanding


Does answering the question successfully
mean you understand what the paragraph is
saying?
“If we continue to transfer information
without checking for understanding, without
relating it to the existing mental models
which allow or disallow the pupil to integrate
the new information, without relating the new
information to their world, then we build in
failure from the outset.” A. Smith
Connecting learning and your
brain


Connecting the learning to what the
pupil already knows and understands is
essential for raising achievement and
motivation
“Teaching has never been and never
will be about the transfer of
information.” A. Smith
Pre-course warning!

This is a longer-term module that
should be implemented
By the end of this session


See the vital role of getting pupils to
reflect on their learning
Start to create a useful way of speaking
about thinking and learning
Thinking..what do we mean?



“Thinking” has lots of meanings
Thinking relates to cognitive activity
triggered by challenging tasks and
problems
Thinking about how we think is called
“metacognition”
Why is reflection so
important?


Getting pupils to reflect on their
learning helps them become more
aware of their thinking and learning
Metacognition is particularly important
when pupils are doing difficult
tasks and reviewing their strategies
and progress
Why is reflection so
important?


Doing this is really hard without words!
It gives teachers an insight into skills,
knowledge and understanding
Getting pupils to reflect..some
practical strategies
“Three things”
“I’d like you to describe three things that you remember as
significant about the last lesson. Then swap your three
things in pairs. Try to get at least five significant things
between you.” Variations on this might include



Three most important/three most useful/three things to
teach someone else
Three important questions which someone should be able
to answer
Agree what the keywords were-use them in a sentence to
show understanding
Getting pupils to reflect..some
practical strategies
“One, Two, Four, Eight.”
“Think of one significant piece of information from the work
we did last time. Now take your one thing and swap it
with someone else so that you have two pieces of
significant information. Now swap your two again so that
you are left with four. Finally go for eight or as near eight
as you can manage!”
Getting pupils to reflect..some
practical strategies
“Interview mapping”
“Interview at least three others and from
each find out what three things they
considered most important about the work
we did last time. Then review your findings
in pairs.”
The use or lack of “mysteries”
at Key Stage 3

Sorting relevant information from
irrelevant
Geography Year 8
“Why is Dai Williams involved in the
building of a new Japanese restaurant
in Bridgend?”
Pupils’ reflections on learning
in lessons
What do you think you learned during that lesson?
MP. We learned about assumptions, like you shouldn’t just
rush into deciding something without thinking carefully.
MP2 Yeah, you thought you were right and then you had to
think about it and you weren’t so sure especially when
you listened to other groups
Int. How did the teacher help you?
FP1 The teacher kept saying, “Do you really know that? Is it
a fact?” Usually we were wrong, well sort of
MP2 You had to have evidence to back it up, like in a
court..like a trial
T.
Pupils’ reflections on learning
in lessons
FP1 At the end you could see how lots of fights start. People
think they are right, but they don’t think, not really. It
was funny when the teacher talked about fights he used
to have with his brother, just like me and my sister
Read the rest of Handout 13.1 and consider what
benefits pupils get from the awareness they are
expressing. Do pupils in your class have this level
of awareness of strategies and learning?
Developing a vocabulary about
thinking and learning
TASK
The wardrobe example

(An analogy for reflection at Key Stage 3)

See handout 13.2
Wardrobe challenge and Key
Stage 3…what’s the link?



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The need to set challenging
problems/enquiries at Key Stage 3
The need to allow pupils time to check and
refine their thinking (possible issues related
to writing vs. card sorts etc)
The need to use existing knowledge (Joined
up whirly planning)
What are your thinking words/concepts?
How would this Art and Design
department develop a language
for learning?


In groups of three suggest 6 words that
you think the pupils might find useful in
reviewing their work at the end of the
unit.
Remember you want them to talk about
processes as much as final product.
You may choose words from the unit
Possible answers might
include
Stage
Possible words
1. Collecting information and ideas Identify, recognise, response
or responding to stimulus
2. Generating ideas and designs
Imagine, visualise, adapt,
experiment, define, metaphor
3. Realising designs
Translate, interrelate,
synthesise
4. Checking or refining
Reorganise, contrast,
stereotype
5. Evaluating
Meaning, assess, compare,
analyse
But what are the big concepts in
your subject that help pupils
reflect?
Ready for more?
As a department identify the words for your
subject, which are appropriate for your pupils
(see Handout 13.7 to help get you started)
 Display some thinking words on A4 pieces of
paper, complete with definitions and, after a
suitable activity, allow pupils to choose words
which match the mental processes they have been
through
 Plan opportunities to develop the use of these
words in plenaries

Coffee Break
How can we use big concepts
and skills to create more
motivating and challenging
lessons?
By the end of this session we
will


Highlight some of the principle concepts
and skills in your subject
Understand how these concepts and
skills can be used to improve pupil
motivation and understanding
Connecting the learning
“We have got to do a lot fewer things in school.
The greatest enemy of understanding is
coverage. As long as you are determined to
cover everything, you actually ensure that most
kids are not going to understand. You’ve got to
take enough time to get kids deeply involved in
something so they can think about it in lots of
different ways, and apply it-not just at school,
but at home and on the street and so on.”
Howard Gardner (1993)
Providing the BIG picture
“I begin first by becoming aware of the overall
length of the work, then of how it will divide
itself into sections (perhaps movements), and
then of the kind of texture or instruments
that will perform it. I prefer not to look for
the actual notes of the composition until this
process has gone as far as possible. Finally
the notes appear.”
Michael Tippet 1963
Can pupils see the BIG
picture?



Many lessons focus on the detailed content of
a unit of work
It is less common for there to be an emphasis
on the larger patterns that characterise the
distinctiveness of learning in a subject
Without explicit attention to the skills and
concepts of a subject, the transfer of learning
from one context to another is less likely
Teachers are really
“similarity spotters”
Big concepts and skills

“Long term planning is a way of making
learning bigger than the sum of its parts. Its
goal is surely the creation of truly independent
learners. This is a popular but rarely realised
mantra. Perhaps a better way of putting it,
one that captures something of the
professional effort required, is to say that the
goal of long-term planning is the
TRANSFORMATION of those pupils who are
reluctant or afraid to take responsibility for
their own learning.”
What are the big concepts and skills in
your subject?
Subject Areas for pupil development over their three
year Key Stage 3 course
1. Art and
Design
Exploring and
developing
ideas
Investigating
and making
art, craft and
design
Evaluating
and
developing
work
Knowledge and
understanding
2. Design
and
Technology
Understanding
materials
Designing
Using ICT
Using control
3. PE
Acquiring and
developing
skills
Selecting and
applying
skills, tactics
and
compositional
ideas
Evaluating
and
improving
performance
Knowledge and
understanding
of fitness and
health
Making
and
producing
in quantity
What are the big concepts and skills in
your subject?
Subject
Areas for pupil development over their
three year Key Stage 3 course
4. History
Chronological
understanding
Knowledge and
understanding
of
events/people/
and changes in
the past
5. Religious
Education
Learning about
religion
(beliefs/practic
es and forms of
religious
expression)
Learning from
religion
(responding,
evaluating,
applying own
experiences,
sense of
meaning and
purpose,
values,
Historical
interpretation
Investigation
Interpretation
Reflection
Empathy
Evaluation
Analysis
Synthesis
Application
Expression

Historical
enquiry
Organisation
and
communication
What are the big concepts and skills in
your subject?
Subject
Areas for pupil development over their three
year Key Stage 3 course
6. Geography
Vocabulary

7. Modern
Foreign
Languages
Grammatical
progression
(i)
Nouns and
pronouns
(ii)
Adjectives
and verbs
(iii)
Structural
features
(iv)
Other
features
Skills progression
(i)
Application
of
knowledge
(ii)
Study skills
and
learning
strategies
(iii)
Dictionary
use
Knowledge of
places
Patterns and
processes
Geographical
thinking
Geographical
explanation
Investigation
Map skills
Fieldwork
What are the big concepts and skills in
your subject?
Subject
8.
Music
Areas for pupil development over their
three year Key Stage 3 course
Controlling
sounds
Creating and
developing
Responding and
reviewing
Listening and
applying
knowledge
and
understanding
Important cognitive skills

5 sense visual tool
See
Hear
Feel
Taste
Smell
Mexican migration and
developing thinking skill
strategies




Record the meaning of this account by
drawing
You can use one or two word annotations
but do not take notes
Draw symbols and stick people to represent
the meaning of the story
This is NOT an art lesson so don’t worry
about artistic ability
What does metacognition look
like in a Year 9 Geography
lesson?
USA
The border
Mexico
Thinking processes during the
drawing task: questions to reflect
upon



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
Did you draw as you listened or did you wait for
pauses?
Which of your symbols represent concrete
phenomena and which represent abstract ones?
Did you get visual images in your head? Where
did they come from?
What happened when you did not have to draw?
What parts were difficult to make sense of?
Did drawing the border and labelling the two
countries provide a useful structure?
Pupils’ comments on the task


“Doing this made me understand more what
listening is about. Listening is more than
having your ears open…your brain has to
work as well.”
“The pictures in your head. I get a lot of
those and now I try and use them, like try to
see things in pictures. You remember them
better.”
Pupils’ comments on the task


“It made me realise why I don’t understand
teachers sometimes. When you hear a load of
hard words, you switch off because it’s too hard.
But it’s not your fault, it’s more the teacher, so I do
ask more questions when I don’t understand.
“Drawing the symbols was really good. We kept
thinking “How do you draw that?” and made you
think what it was about. We compared symbols
and I could see how my partner had got different
things out of it.”
Task 2

Do any of these skills have relevance in
my subject at Key Stage 3?
1. Do the skills developed and practised in the
first task have relevance in my subject?
2. Is enough attention given to developing them?
3. How can they be developed further?


Pupils need to “know how” as well as
“know that”, if they are to become more
independent learners
Reflection is the key to developing
greater awareness and precision in such
skills
Task 3 Back to the
USA/Mexican example

Using annotation of longer texts to
improve the level of thinking
1. Return to your map/drawing of the Mexican
migrants’ story
2. Underline or highlight anything that represents
an EFFECT in RED
3. For the underlined effects, underline in YELLOW
if it is a LONG-TERM effect and in GREEN if it
is a SHORT-TERM effect
Classifying learning outcomes
1.
Modular outcomes
related to the specific content of a unit of
work, which is taught and assessed within
or at the end of the unit. Typically, facts
and knowledge that can be tested in short
answers
Classifying learning outcomes
2.
Longitudinal outcomes
related to a number of units of work,
which therefore can be taught and
assessed over a number of units.
Typically recurring skills.
For example….

Regular and progressive work with
causal reasoning, with framing
enquiry questions to do with change,
evidential understanding, with using
visual sources critically (PROCESS)
For example…

Regular and progressive work on
words such as “political” or “power” or
“parliament” again and again building
up really sophisticated meanings.
(KNOWLEDGE)
For example

Regular and progressive work on
“frame of reference” in which teachers
help pupil make sense of a new
period in the light of references to
Social/Political/Cultural structures and
values from the earlier period.
(KNOWLEDGE and PROCESS)
Classifying learning outcomes
3.
Background outcomes
that permeate the subject and represent
its essential characteristics (skills of
discussion etc)
Ready for more?

See “Practical teaching strategies for
helping pupils review and recall” in
order for them to transfer their learning
Helping pupils improve their
transfer skills



“Doctor, doctor, I can’t remember…
When did this happen?
When did what happen?”
In a 1996 research study 85% of the sample of
12 year olds asked, did not know what the
word “revise” meant!
SCOTS CLAN MAPS
S
Sensory
C
Colourful and visual
O
Outrageous
T
Thematic or topical
S
Sequenced
C
Chunked
L
Located
A
Associated
N
Numbered
M
Mnemonics
A
Alliteration, rhythm, rhyme
P
Personalised
S
Shared
Sensory
“To learn anything fast and effectively you
need to see it, hear it, feel it.” T. Stockwell
•Physical sequencing activities using post-its or cards (e.g. German
vocab posted around the room and pupils have to move to find
meanings of words)
•Living essays
•Creating flow diagrams on the floor using pupils and props
•Bar graphs using chairs to mark different pupil responses
•Creating living photographs
Colourful and visual
“Our memory for images is better than our
memory for words.” Tony Buzan
•Use review posters in bold primary colours and for a specific audience
or purpose in mind
•Coloured highlighters can be used to associate related topics or
keywords
•Use coloured highlighters to review vocabulary in modern foreign
languages-look for different colours for adjectives, verbs and nouns
•Complete topics using mind maps in bright colours
Outrageous
“I suppose the high water mark of my youth
in Columbus, Ohio, was the night the bed
fell on my father.” J. Thurber
•Have pupils rehearse a speech in the most outrageous voice
manageable
•Construct “outrageous applications” for new information. How might
you teach this topic to a Martian? How might a creature who had never
been to this planet view the information?
•List the key learning points from a unit of work (3 or 5 or 7). Now
think of some very famous people, or people you know well, and have
them tell you one of the points each, imagine they saying the points,
one each, in order, whilst sitting round a table, or singing at a concert,
or going rond a roundabout.
Thematic or topical
“They say that most adults over the age of forty can remember where
they were and what they were doing when Kennedy was killed. My
memory on this one’s pretty hazy-all I can remember is being on top
of a book depository in Dallas, Texas and then these policemen
chasing me down the street…” US Comedian
•Teach chronology by starting with the chronology of the pupil-which
family member lived where? And when? And with whom? And what
did they do? And how are they related? And how do we know?
•Encourage pupils to make and use analogies
•Use mind mapping to encourage identification of associations,
common themes and connections
•Teach settlements or ecosystems, or census data, or population
change by starting with the immediate environment the pupils know
best and build out
Sequenced
•Pupils use cards and detail the stages of an
experiment on the back. Mix the cards up, turn them
over and explain each turn in stage. Events in a role
play or a novel, historical events, laws, principles of
maths or science can all use sequencing activities.
•Templates for structured thinking, structured
written or oral responses
•Fish bone diagrams, flow charts
Located
•Ensure that groups who are sitting SATs or GCSEs visit the room
in which they willsit the exam beforehand. If possible, have them
sit at the very desk they will sit at when they complete the exam.
Ideally have revision lessons in that room with them at that desk!
Associated
•How do you use your long and medium
term planning to ensure that both
knowledge and processes are revisited
and developed?
“You can remember any new piece of information if it is
associated to something you already know or remember.”
Lorayne and Lucas
Numbered
•To remember dates use words to
represent figures. For example 186,282
miles per second becomes “a dazzling
sunray is flashing by” with 1 8 6 2 8 and 2
letters
“You can remember any new piece of information if it is
associated to something you already know or remember.”
Lorayne and Lucas
Mnemonics
“These are best when invented by the learner!” A. Smith
0
Pill (nill is replaced
by pill)
1
Sun (think of a comic
sun with a yellow
smiley face)
2
Shoe (one of your
own shoes is best)
3
Tree (a fully grown
tree in leaf that you
are familiar with)
4
Store (as in
superstore selling
everything)
Mnemonics
“These are best when invented by the learner!” A. Smith
5
Jive (moving to a
rhythm)
6
Bricks (hear the
sound they make as
they are stacked)
7
Heaven (pearly gates
and angels with
harps)
8
Crate (a wooden box
for storing)
9
Line (a railway or
even a clothes line)
Alliteration, rhythm, rhyme
“These are best when invented by the learner!” A. Smith
The vitamin called A has important connections
It aids in our vision and helps stop infections.
To vitamin C this ditty now comes
Important for healing and strong healthy gums.
Finished with both of these?
Here come the B’s:
B1 for the nerves
B2 helps cells energise
Digesting the protein’s
B6’s prize
Alliteration, rhythm, rhyme
“These are best when invented by the learner!” A. Smith
A
Austria
Brilliant
Belgium
Device
Denmark
For
Finland
Finding
France
Good
Germany
Geographical
Greece
Information
Italy
Is
Ireland
Linking
Luxembourg
Names
Netherlands
Properly
Portugal
So
Spain
Specially
Sweden
United
United Kingdom
Alliteration, rhythm, rhyme
Try remembering geometric shapes to the tune of “On Top of Old Smokey.”
Oh, take a rectangle
And give it a squish
The sides will be
equal
A square if you wish
Now take a square
And cut it in half
Slice on the diagonal
And you have a
triangle
Now take two
triangles
And place base to
base.
It is a rhombus,
The base line erase
Oh six triangles
We can take
Assemble together
A hexagon shape
Alliteration, rhythm, rhyme
Try remembering weather words to the tune of “Clementine”
Condensation, evaporation
Water cycle, cirrus clouds
Wind chill factors, ocean currents
Trade winds, high pressure zones
Stratosphere and centigrade
Fahrenheit and barometers
They excite you, they can’t bite
you
Please make friends with weather
words
Strong winds blowing
Hail, sleet, snowing
The weather’s with us all
day long
So look out your window in
the morning
Just in case the forecasts
wrong
Personalised
“Where the pupil has a strong personal connection with the information it is
readily recovered.” A. Smith
•Encourage pupils to consider applications in his or her
personal life: how might you apply this? In what ways might
you benefit? How might you teach a younger brother or sister?
•Using pupil questions to shape a series of lessons within an
enquiry (see Robert Philips and ISM’s Initial Stimulus Material
article)
Shared
•Structured opportunities to test understanding are a powerful
aid to recall.
•Use a variety of regular and informal tests. “Each one teach
one.”, explaining personal notes or mind maps, preparing a
lesson plan on how you would teach this to another group and
formulating key questions and asking someone to test you on
your understanding of them!
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Didn’t we do that in Year 7?” Using reflection and our big