Archive of ‘Reflection’ category

Making Thinking Visible by Ritchart, Church and Morrison

This paragraph strikes a chord with me:
“In most school settings, educators have focused more on the completion of work and assignments than on a true development of understanding. Although this work can, if designed well, help foster understanding, more often than not its focus is on the replication of skills and knowledge, some new and some old. Classroom are too often places of “tell and practice.” The teacher tells the students what is important to know or do and then has them practice that skill or knowledge. In such classrooms, little thinking is happening. Teachers in such classrooms are rightly stumped when asked to identify the kinds of thinking they want to do because there is ‘t any to be found in much of the work they give students. Retention of information through rote practice isn’t learning; it is training.”

The opposite is also a problem, that is when the class is full of activity, but the students don’t really understand the point of the activities.

In order to understand thinking requires:
1. Observing closely and describing what’s there
2. Building explanations and interpretations
3. Reasoning with evidence
4. Making connections
5. Considering different viewpoints and perspectives
6. Capturing the heart and forming conclusions
And two additional thinking moves;
7. Wondering and asking questions
8. Uncovering complexity and going below the surface of things.

Additional types of thinking that are useful in the areas of problem solving, decision making, and forming judgments include:
1. Identifying patterns and making generalisations
2. Generating possibilities and alternatives
3. Evaluating evidence, arguments, and actions
4. Formulating plans and monitoring actions
5. Identifying claims, assumptions, and bias
6. Clarifying priorities, conditions, and what is known

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Depth of Understanding Versus Covering the Curriculum

After attending parent teacher interviews tonight, I have been left a bit perplexed. The Australian Curriculum has provided our systems with a common road to travel along, and sign posts along the way to monitor whether we are on the right track. Is the goal to just get to the end of the road, or to actually understand the journey and be able to use the information and apply it to other situations?

I want my children to have depth of understanding, so that if they forget a rule or a step they can actually use a logical order to work out the problem. However, teachers believe that to get that level of understanding they would have to spend considerably more time, and would then be unable to get through the curriculum. So, what sort of learners do we end up with? Students who can remember to follow steps. Will they be able to recognise in which situations they can apply their ‘steps’ to solve a problem?

Surely there has to be more to mathematics than just learning a set procedure to follow.

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