The Lets Think Handbook

Here is a synopsis of what you will find in the remainder of this book. Throughout you will find a mixture of underlying theory, practice and examples drawn from real classrooms for you to see what cognitive acceleration looks like in practice. The theory offers a lens, and sometimes an alternative view, on what goes on in the classroom. By interweaving theory throughout we aim to show why we are advocating certain practices and to give you, the reader, the power you need to consider those practices and make them work in your own circumstances.
Each chapter begins with a chapter outline in diagrammatic form.

Chapter 1 lays down the general principles of cognitive acceleration and introduces the main ‘pillars’ that underlie the method of teaching for intellectual stimulation. It also provides some of the background to how we got to where we are now. You would be forgiven for skimming this chapter initially and then coming back after the more practical chapters to gain a better
understanding of why we are proposing the particular cognitive acceleration teaching approach.

Chapter 2 deals with the practicalities of creating and managing intellectual challenge for your children – what we call ‘cognitive conflict’. You will read why we think it works, some examples of activities which create challenge and some illustrative case studies from classrooms.

Chapter 3 does the same for ‘social construction’ – the process by which children learn to listen to one another, to argue in a positive way and to build knowledge together.

Chapter 4 completes the practical account of the three main pillars of cognitive acceleration, dealing with ‘metacognition’ – encouraging children to think about their own thinking. Again, examples and case studies are provided.

Chapter 5 considers how the three pillars of cognitive acceleration work together in a lesson, now the foundations are laid. It is quite a juggling act but it helps to think in terms of the ‘shape’ of the lesson, or the ‘episodes’ of the lesson.

Chapter 6 looks at how teaching for the development of thinking using cognitive acceleration ties in with the content of the curriculum. What is the relationship between teaching for thinking and teaching mathematics? Or science? Or language? We offer examples and case studies to show how, even if ‘thinking’ as such does not appear in national curricula or examination syllabuses, it nevertheless provides a powerful tool for the development of knowledge in all subject areas.

Chapter 7 offers some real-life case studies from schools and local authorities that have introduced thinking programmes, relating experiences of successes and difficulties.

Chapter 8 recognises that teaching thinking is not easy. This chapter describes how, in a school, local authority or other group, you might organise some professional development (PD). Some of the key characteristics of effective PD are described and practical guidance given about how these characteristics can be used in PD design. There is also some advice about maintaining the momentum: how do you keep the new methods fresh after the initial innovation?

Chapter 9 looks at some other ‘big ideas’ in education with which you may be familiar and relates them where possible to the teaching of thinking. We will look in some detail at formative assessment (or Assessment for Learning as it is often known) and consider more briefly gifted and talented, multiple intelligences, learning styles, learning to learn and others.

Chapter 10 describes some ways in which you can assess the effects of teaching thinking to your pupils. Here we will need to say something about different kinds of testing and test theory, as well as about what different abilities a child brings to bear in answering a test question.

Appendices provide tools to help you recognise what type of thinking you might expect from children of different ages across the primary school age range, describe ways of assessing
cognitive development and show where you can obtain more information.

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Lets Think Handbook Copyright © by Alex Black. All Rights Reserved.

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