Activities to help children respond

In this penultimate issue of your quick-start series, three activities inspired by Thinking Moves A-Za book we’ve cowritten with Roger Sutcliffe, who conceived a novel way to embed metacognition in everyday teaching and learning. 

The 26 moves make metacognition simple and understandable for all. The simple framework gives children a vocabulary for their thinking, so they can draw attention to the moves and become better thinkers in school and in life (scroll down to sign up for our free upcoming webinar!). 

Many are crucial for good P4C discussions, particularly “Respond.” How can we make it easier for learners to reply to one another? Here’s one activity from the book, and one we’ve developed since.

All Hands on Deck

Discussions are more thoughtful and go deeper when students respond to one another rather than making isolated points directed at the teacher. In a discussion, ask everyone to respond to a point made by indicating if they agree or disagree. Better than thumbs up or down is to have hands on the table for agreement, under the table for disagreement, or feet out/under if in a circle. Some will discover that one hand on the table and one under can stand for “I agree and disagree”. Then you can hear the reasons why people agree or disagree with the statement.

You said, I think…

This is a simple activity that provides a “responsive scaffold” for paired talk. One person says what they think, and then the other has to summarise what the first person said before giving their point in response. See us demonstrate it below. 

And whilst we’re on the subject of listening, here’s a bonus activity you’ve probably come across – The Following Game. It’s especially good to complement the activities on leadership from last week. 

More about Metacognition

We’ve attached an extract from the book that includes the pages for AHEAD, BACK and CONNECT. As you’ll see, each move has an introduction, connected vocabulary, activities for practising the move, and some of the myriad applications in the curriculum. 

The complete book is available for £9.99 or a bundle of 5 for £40 at our online shop. You can also find out more about training and pupil workshops in Thinking Moves by replying to this email with “Info Please”. I think this can be a real game-changer, by teaching explicitly to children of all abilities and backgrounds those moves that more able and more advantaged children pick up more easily through practice and experience.

In next week’s final issue of this quick-start series, we answer that age-old question – how do I record evidence of my class’s discussions? 

Best wishes,

Jason & Tom

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