Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How do we know students are thinking??

There are numerous ways of documenting students' thinking:

Inside the classroom –

a.       Posting student questions: if a student is asking questions, they are definitely thinking! In a stimulating environment, students must be allowed to ask as many questions as they can. They should also be trained to ask open-ended and conceptual questions. These questions should be pasted in the classroom which can be called an inquiry wall.
b.      Posting student discoveries: Asking good questions is not the end of thinking, in fact it is just the beginning! Students must find answers to the questions they have asked and these ‘discoveries’ should be pasted in the classroom. This shows that the students keep thinking about what they want to learn.
c.       Using graphic organisers: There are tonnes of graphic organisers pre-designed for different purposes. Students should be taught to choose the right organiser for a given purpose. Overtime, students will be able to design their own graphic organisers based on their need.
d.      Display of work: Any piece of work that showcases thinking done by the students must be displayed in the classroom. This includes graphic organisers, brainstorm activities, research work, open-ended work, assessments, etc.
e.      Post-its: Students should be given access to a variety of post-its which can be used to record their thoughts in a random, yet organised way. A classroom full of post-its is a classroom full of dynamic thoughts!

Outside the classroom –

a.       Use of student blogs: training the students to maintain some online space where they can record their reflections gives an opportunity for them to think. The teachers can easily read through these blogs and also give immediate feedback, if required.
b.      Allowing students to comment on the class blog: If the teacher has a blog for the class where the learning engagements are reflected upon, the students must be allowed to read through these posts and comment effectively.
c.       Reflection journal/Diary: it is highly recommended for students to maintain a journal or a diary where they can take notes about what they think. At times, they can be allowed to write out of free will and other times this can be guided.

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