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Deeper Thinking in the English Classroom

A presentation to be delivered at the Bialik CoT Conference, August 2013

David Camp

on 10 May 2017

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Transcript of Deeper Thinking in the English Classroom

The Need for a Culture of Thinking
Cultures of Thinking comes from the Harvard notion of Visible Thinking, whose aims are quite simple: to make students' thinking visible to themselves and to us. In doing so, they will better understand how their mind works and how they can ensure they are actively thinking at all times. We can see if what we think we are teaching matches with the understanding and thinking the students are engaged in.
At Emanuel, we have a range of students, many of whom are highly intelligent. But we definitely have a problem with
critical thinking.
Our students like to avoid it if they can.
Scenario 1
Teacher: Great essay, but you have totally ignored the question. Why is that?

Student: I memorised my previous essay and just did my best to fit it to the question.

Teacher: Hmmm...
Scenario 2
Teacher: Exactly what does the word "zeitgeist" mean in the context that you've used it?

Student: Ummm...I'm not sure. It was on the website/in the article/given to me by my tutor.

Teacher: Have you thought that it might be a good idea to find out what it means before you use it?
Scenario 3
Student: Can't you just give us the answer?

Teacher: No...
What do you
What do you
about that?
What does it make you
The Minotaur

The mahogany table-top you smashed
Had been the broad plank top
Of my mother's heirloom sideboard-
Mapped with the scars of my whole life.

That came under the hammer.
That high stool you swung that day
Demented by my being
Twenty minutes late for baby-minding.

'Marvellous!' I shouted, 'Go on,
Smash it into kindling.
That's the stuff you're keeping out of your poems!'
And later, considered and calmer,

'Get that shoulder under your stanzas
And we'll be away.' Deep in the cave of your ear
The goblin snapped his fingers.
So what had I given him?

The bloody end of the skein
That unravelled your marriage,
Left your children echoing
Like tunnels in a labyrinth.

Left your mother a dead-end,
Brought you to the horned, bellowing
Grave of your risen father
And your own corpse in it.
‘Nothing, not even a Utopia, can necessarily make the
pursuit of happiness
a successful one that ends in
. The
best society
can merely allow every
individual to flourish
in the pursuit.’
DANIEL NETTLE, Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile

Discuss how The Republic engages in this pursuit of happiness.
What do you
you know about this topic?
What questions or
do you have?
How can you
this topic?

How are the ideas and information presented CONNECTED to what you already knew?

What new ideas did you get that EXTENDED or pushed your thinking in new directions?

What is still CHALLENGING or confusing for you to get your mind around? What questions, wonderings or puzzles do you now have?
What’s going on?
What do you see that makes you say that?
Remind students of the topic you want them to consider. It could be the ideal itself – fairness, truth, understanding, or creativity – or it could be the unit you are studying. Have students write a response using each of the sentence stems:

- I used to think…
- But now, I think…
Think Pair Share involves posing a question to students, asking them to take a few minutes of thinking time and then turning to a nearby student to share their thoughts.
Flip Learning
More Effective Use of Class Time
Homework is more active than 'Read Chapter 3' or 'Read that article on Othello'
Questioning is (almost) always open-ended, rather than leading
Teacher role is to facilitate discussion, not lead it.
More emphasis placed on students' thinking
Students are constantly involved in making value judgements to reinforce the importance of their own opinion
So who are we, students and teachers, becoming as a result of time spent in a culture of thinking?
Inquiry Action Project
My Question:

How do I find alternative ways to deliver 'content'/'knowlege' to increase the time I can spend on 'thinking' in class?
Content vs. Thinking?
The Conference Theme
Who are we, students and teachers, becoming as a result of our time spent in a culture of thinking?
But first...
Who were my students prior to the development of a culture of thinking at Emanuel?
“Many weak responses were often clearly pre-prepared answers that were not well connected to the question.”
“Weaker responses [were often] memorised, pre-prepared responses and responses to questions from past papers”
“Weaker responses…showed limited engagement with the questions, with students often attempting to answer a different question entirely through a prepared response”
“A prepared response does not equip a student to cope with all the demands of the question in the examination.”
Flipping English is about two things:
1) helping students take responsibility for their own learning by understanding them and their unique skills, abilities, and needs, and

2) leveraging technology to build a student-centred learning environment that meaningfully engages the cultural context in which our students live.
From Morrisflipsenglish.com
Full transcript