The key features of a lesson designed to promote better thinking in the pupils were introduced in Chapter 1. They are the challenges that are posed (cognitive conflict), the opportunities to suggest ideas, descriptions, explanations and reasons (social construction) and the opportunities to engage in metacognition to identify the kind of thinking used, the ways that helped them solve the challenge and the difficulties they faced and handled.
These key pillars of cognitive acceleration are generally prefaced by a few minutes of setting the scene and establishing the vocabulary that will be needed for the activity. We sometimes call this initial phase concrete preparation.
Both at task level and at a metacognitive level, opportunities for bridging into aspects of real life and other areas within the curriculum should also be built into the activity. That is, drawing out examples where the same kind of thinking being developed in the thinking lesson (for example, putting things in order or sharing) can be used in everyday life.
The operation of these five pillars (concrete preparation, cognitive conflict, social construction, metacognition and bridging) is focused through the pupils’ talk facilitated by the teacher. Sometimes teachers suggest that they should take a back seat during the activity, but this is not quite an accurate description. It is true that you should neither lead nor dominate, but you do need to be very active and alert to question, comment and ‘wonder’ — all of which should aim to stimulate further thought and raise pupils’ cognitive deliberations.
We will now look at how the design of lessons and the guidance for their implementation in the classroom provided in the published materials complement each other for optimal effects with a class within the time span of a single lesson. We take a Let’s Think through Maths! (LTTM!) lesson as an example.
An example in mathematics