In this post I am trying to clarify my ideas for my goals and focus of my pedagogical practice for the academic year 2016-17.
Firstly following on from my reading this summer and as discussed in an earlier post I want to bring thinking more to the front and centre of classes. By this I mean that I want to make the types of thinking used by scientists more explicit to my students and to help them further develop their thinking dispositions.
1) Learner Profile
I have come to see the learner profile as the the dispositions of a learner. It is these dispositions that we are trying to develop.
Goal #1: Make the Learner Profile front and centre of class.
If the Learner Profile is the disposition then the ATLS are the tools for developing those dispositions. Highlighting the approaches to learning and showing students how to develop these skills will develop their own learner profile.
In terms of IB teaching, this year I plan to spend more time focussing on the approaches to teaching and learning (ATLs). Thinking skills is a subgroup of this and the work of Ritchhart is referenced by the IB on their ATL guide in the thinking skills section. Ritchhart also talks about the need to make his thinking routines explict, as what students cannot name they cannot own. I think that this applies to all of the approaches to learning and I am convinced that the methods used to make thinking more explicit would also be beneficial in terms on making all the learning skills more explicit to students, and therefore helping them develop the skills to become independent learners.
I think it would be wise then, to start by making the ATLs and the essential questions of science visible and on display in the laboratory. The same could be said for the TOK classroom and the college counseling office. What are the essential questions in these areas of school life?
In delivering my curriculums I will try to use routines more readily for study and thinking, the challenge now is to work out which routines will be best suited for my subjects in my lesson planning. And develop good routines for the other ATLs not necessarily just the thinking routines.
Goal #2: Make the approaches to learning explicit in class.
3) Thinking routines
A subset of the the ATLS are the thinking skills and routines have been developed by Harvard’s Project Zero. In using thinking routines I need to develop my skills of questioning to make thinking more visible and encourage my students to share their thinking. After all, individual thinking benefits from being challenged; from the need to articulate things clearly to others. Therefore collaboration is the stuff of growth and acts to give students the tools to work together by developing their own thinking skills.
For something to be truly valued it has to be well articulated and identifiable. To value thinking we have to unpack it and identify what it entails in any given situation, therefore leaders of any group need to articulate what kinds of thinking they value – what kinds of thinking do we want in a science class? In TOK class? Vygoytsky stated that children grow into the intellectual life of those around them therefore we need to surround children with thinking.
In the DP Biology course the Nature of Science sections lend themselves perfectly to developing the types of thinking required by scientists.
Steps to thinking involve: honesty with students, essential questions for science. Types of thinking moves. Thinking routines.
Goal #3: Teach for scientific and critical thinking.
4) Concept Inventories
Goal #4: Become more familiar with the research on “threshold concepts” and the Biology “Concept Inventories”
On the EdTech front I am going to try to integrate Periscope more into my teaching. I think that the app has a lot of potential benefits for schools including the ability for students to connect in a non-threatening way with other students across the world, disseminate information to parents, and getting feedback on my teaching like a digital lesson study.
Twitter and Instagram could also be useful research tool for students and could be co-opted in to class if students are given advice on useful people to follow.
Goal #5: Make more use of Twitter and Periscope in my work in school.