A model lesson
Each lesson has a lesson plan for teachers and workcards for students. Teachers, parents or self directed learners, should read the lesson plan in advance and refer to it as a teaching guide during the lesson. The relevant lesson workcard can be shared or printed out and handed to students at the beginning of the lesson. Students are encouraged to keep and refer back to their workcards as they contain the essential principles of the lesson and practice situations. Students can gradually assemble their own workbooks.
There are three stages for each 30 minute lesson: Introduction, Practice and Discussion.
Introduction: (5-10 minutes)
Do not mention the thinking tool by name yet, but start with a story or an exercise which illustrates the aspect of thinking that is the subject of the lesson.
Then introduce the thinking tool as the purpose of the lesson and explain simply what it does. Use the full name and acronym for the tool to begin with; E.g. Plus Minus and Interesting or PMI. Then later in the lesson just use the acronym, "PMI" and use it often.
Carry out an open class example by setting a task and asking for responses.
Practice: (10-20 minutes)
The lesson include situations for the practice of the thinking tool.
The practice items cover a range of ages and abilities, choose the items most appropriate to the age group you are teaching. You are encouraged to modify the items and to adapt them to local circumstances or news items.
Set a practice item from the student workcards. Allow about three minutes or the time specified. If you are teaching many students, then divide the class into groups of 4, 5 or 6.
Ask for feedback on the practice item. If you have groups then ask for one suggestion from each group.
Aim to practice on three items in the lesson.
Discussion: (5 minutes)
Invite discussion on the thinking technique, not on the practice situations.
Use the learning points given in the student workcards to have a discussion about the tool. If this discussion is weak, do another practice item.
If it is customary to give homework, use one of the practice items for this purpose.
The key resource is the minds of the students. Thinking is the skilled use of available information. The students are not required to absorb additional facts before they can start thinking. The workcards provide structure and the tools are designed to direct attention. That is why the same workcards can be used with a wide range of student ages and abilities. In each case the tools are the same but the output will vary.
Since the students are not required to absorb facts before they can begin to think those students who are not good at absorbing facts find that they also enjoy the thinking lessons.
Situations to practice
Each lesson contains a variety of situations to apply the thinking technique. It is impossible to predict the interest of every teacher or class so there is a wide mix of material. Some of it is directly relevant to a student's experience. Some of it is deliberately remote so that a student can practice thinking rather than knowledge retrieval. Some of it is designed to encourage students to think about situations they might usually regard as outside their competence.
The purpose of the thinking lessons is to direct attention to the thinking process.
This can happen only if there is sufficient variation in the situations so that no single topic occupies too much time. In this way students are forced to shift their attention from the practice situations to the thinking tool. This point is fundamental. If the lesson becomes a discussion of the practice items, it may be fascinating but it becomes useless as a thinking lesson.
In each lesson, teachers may choose from a selection of practice items in the workcard or in the additional list provided. Teachers who do not like the practice items provided are encouraged to create their own, providing they relate to the purpose of the lesson.
Please remember that the purpose of the lessons is to develop thinking as a skill that can be applied to any situation. The purpose is not to have a discussion on the practice topics.