- The Learning Pit will be published in my new book, Challenging Learning, this autumn. To reserve your copy, please click here
- For an article covering the background, lesson ideas and outcomes of the Learning Pit, click here
- The photo attached to this posting comes from Lacey McCarthy,whose Year 2 students at Douglas Park School in Masterton, New Zealand have been using the Learning Pit to deepen their learning.
Monday, 15 June 2009
Thursday, 21 May 2009
Doing what dogs do best, Billie offers a sense of security for children, particularly those with emotional or social difficulties; she brings a sense of fun to heated debates (she is tactically deployed to defuse any tense situation involving an irate parent or a pompous inspector); and she is the favourite attraction for pre-schoolers who look forward to patting her whilst Mum or Dad drops off their older siblings (I bet this "sales pitch" is one of the many reasons why Douglas Park recruits more and more children every year).
Now though, Billie is training to be a Reading Dog. Basing herself in the new entrants room (for 5-year-olds), Billie sits attentively, listening to a child reading or watching whilst they show their latest piece of writing. Being a wholly appreciative listener, the children really enjoy having a captive audience all for themselves!
Monday, 18 May 2009
Friday, 8 May 2009
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Monday, 4 May 2009
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
Monday, 23 March 2009
Friday, 20 March 2009
Piglet is for 0-3 year olds, with 9 places and 3/4 adults
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Monday, 16 March 2009
Friday, 13 March 2009
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
The Question Quadrant can be used in small groups or as a whole class. Trent Burns at Cambewarra Primary School in New South Wales, Australia has been using the approach to role model the types of questions that P4C seeks, placing the Question Quadrant in the middle of an inquiry circle.
As Trent says, "The discussion generated is valuable as students give reasons as to why they have chosed a specific part of the quadrant to place their question. Having students fill out a blank question quadrant after listening to a story is also a valuable teaching tool and requires students to develop their own questions for discussion. After all it is the questions that make the inquiry come alive within the classroom."
For more information about this approach, both Trent and I highly recommend Phil Cam's new book, Twenty Thinking Tools as well as his excellent introduction to P4C, Thinking Together.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Monday, 9 March 2009
Friday, 6 March 2009
Wednesday, 4 March 2009
For me, the answer to this issue lies in the work of the Community Designed Education network. Started in 2001 by Dr John Edwards in Australia and Bill Martin in the USA, I have been part of this growing community of schools, businesses, professional sports teams and industry since 2005. The underpinning belief of this network is that organisations grow best from a combination of the personal, practical knowledge of its people, together with a rich culture of evidence based, action learning.
Beginning with the identification of a shared vision, the CDE process encourages organisations to take a year to identify the best ways to achieve their goals (as opposed to diving straight in with any innovation that seems promising). This allows rich data to be collected and a number of cycles of action-learning to be completed so that decisions are ultimately about what works BEST rather than simply about what works.
As Ian explains, "These 12/13yr olds have been working with me for about two terms now and have been learning to use a range of questioning techniques in order to facilitate deeper thinking skills. They know to use questions to gain clarification and to garner reasons / evidence from each other. They then ask each other to consider their own assumptions, before hopefully testing out some alternative ideas."
This group were also given some images to consider and to use their questioning techniques to think about whether what they were seeing was 'real' or 'not real'. It's a question which intrugued them because they all considered themselves to be deeper thinkers, but found it very difficult to question their own religious beliefs in the same manner (The Polynesian community being committed Christians). However, some brave souls found a way to make alternative suggestions and this lead to a deeper level conversation about some beliefs not having the same reasons and evidence behind them.
What I find particularly fascinating about this experiment is that the 3 apples idea is something I've often used with nursery/reception children to begin to explore whether something has to be seen to be real. And yet here is Ian using ostensibly the same task to push for a far greater depth of reasoning, questioning and understanding. Which just goes to show that Bananarama were right - it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it (and that's what get results).
Thursday, 26 February 2009
The aim of the site is to offer a free facility for people interested in thinking in all it's forms to share resources, ideas and contact information with each other. Members of the site can find schools interested in becoming partner schools, making student-to-student contacts and finding out about future conferences and seminars. Already there are members in many of the Nordic and Baltic countries, as well as the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia. JN
Monday, 23 February 2009
½ year old daughter and I downloaded Animatch, a game of pairs for the iPhone that comes with 20 cards as standard. Thinking this is too many for Ava to deal with, we simply listened to the sounds that each animal makes and names the creatures as we went along.
Sunday, 22 February 2009
With the school already reknowned for its outstanding work with P4C, it really must be a joy to work, learn and sing there every day. Bring on the "Choir of Inquiry" JN
Saturday, 21 February 2009
Whilst half the children sit in the inner circle engaging in the community of inquiry, the other half sit in an outer circle mind-mapping or in some way recording what is being investigated by the other children. Every 10 minutes or so, the groups swap over. Children partner up, one from each group, so that they can compare notes and respond to each other's thoughts.
This idea was developed in Berwick by Mary-Rose Blythe, deputy head at Holy Trinity First School, and myself as a way to ensure that the deaf children at the school didn't miss out on the wonderful experience of P4C. However, we also found that ALL children enjoyed the opportunity for thinking/recording time whilst in the outer circle and the increased opportunity to talk whilst in the inner circle. Furthermore, research by the Universities of Newcastle and Sunderland noted that this combination of P4C and cognitive mapping helped children make more progress in their learning when compared with taking part in just one of these approaches. Try it out and let us know how it goes! JN
This is the key question for a project that aims to enhance creativity and transferable thinking skills in learners of all ages. Developed by Gordon Poad and a group of wonderful drama practitioners and teachers from Stoke on Trent, with a little help from myself and a pot of cash and enthusiasm from Creative Partnerships, this idea has flourished into an outstanding approach to learning. The vision for the project explains more:
Dramatic Enquiry develops creativity, responsible independence and transferable thinking skills. It appeals to parents and teachers who want a broad and balanced curriculum for their children, and encourages us all to be motivated and questioning learners.
We believe that creative thinkers will influence all our futures and that “Educare”, an approach to education that draws on the talents of every learner rather than relies on the expertise of a single teacher, supports creativity and effective learning. To this end, we are developing a training model that is open to all learners, based in schools that are centres for excellence in the Dramatic Enquiry.
As a team, we capture the learning and impact of Dramatic Enquiry whilst drawing on, and seeking critiques from, the worlds of education, drama and philosophy. We realise that creating new ways of working is not easy but we are committed to challenging ourselves and to achieving this visionOf all the projects I was involved in during 2008, this was by far the most fun and probably the one with most potential to inspire young and old. Read more about it at Cap-a-Pie JN