In the Primary School classroom, we try to understand why students learn the way they do. Appreciating the why and how of student learning is an important objective of the Grade 2 Thinking Skills. These are visible thinking routines to help educators uncover what’s going on in the students’ minds.
Students, on the other hand, use these thinking skills to process information, make decisions, and to create new ideas in their learning.
“One of the things we usually start with in ELA is the Learning Goal,” Clare Owens, Assistant Head of Primary and 2B Homeroom teacher talks about one such routine. “We pull apart the language of the learning goal to make sure students understand what they will learn about during the session.”
She further explains that if there is any part the students find challenging, focus is on helping them develop a growth mindset to look at problems – I don’t know it yet, but if i ask questions, reflect, and interact with my learning partner, I’ll understand it eventually.
There are also reading based routines where the students are asked to create images corresponding to a text. “If they are faced with a word they don’t know, we observe what connections a student can make to the word, whether it be connections to their home language, to another word or spelling pattern. Making possible connections helps the student to explain their initial understanding of a word,” Ms. Owens says.
One part of this is the re-read strategy, where after initially creating images from a text, the students re-read it and go back to add more details to their images.
Other thinking routines such as Think, Pair, Share allow for students to share their ideas, understanding and responses with a Learning Partner. This may include talking to your learning partner about a question on the board. The teachers can listen to their conversations to examine how they process information. This helps them improvise to support their learning.
“Teachers often also ask a student when they answer a question, ‘How do you know that?’,” Ms. Owens mentions another thinking skill practiced in the classroom. This forces the student to dig deeper and substantiate their answer, which develops further clarity of thought in them.
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