We are pleased to announce that we are beginning another series of blog posts to run simultaneously with our review categories, technical writing advice, and story drafting. This series is named ‘Thinking Education’ because it gets to the heart of what education should aim to develop: thinking. And like many of our other titles it is a play-on-words designed for amusement, as much as attention.
What Thinking Education will aim to explore are some practical thinking activities, and methods of carrying out those activities. These activities (or learning experiences) are designed for students to be able to practise critical and creative thinking. These are not designed to be experiences in which there cannot be no wrong answer, but these are designed to challenge students to become deep and progressively thoughtful – pushing their particular spark of genius to new levels.
It should be noted that as for myself as a teacher, my students are part of a multicampus school. This means that I teach them via virtual classrooms which are created with the aid of video conferencing. This forces me to be more creative with the development of material and activities to prompt the students to develop as self-directed learners.
As such, attached below is a particular routine I as a teacher have attempted recently with great success. This is a variation on a routine called ‘My Favourite No’ which can be seen in action in the following video:
Variation of ‘My Favourite No’ across Zoom
- Teacher asked students to provide a character (evil villain), an item (a cow prodder), and a setting (Bondi Beach)
- Students wrote down their paragraphs over 15 minutes
- The teacher then quickly checked these paragraphs via Breakout Rooms and asking students to share screens (this could also work via email)
- The teacher screenshot their favourite paragraph and then asked the class for ways to better improve the work.
- The teacher also added some of their own changes to the paragraph and asked students for ‘why’ they made those changes.
In reflection this is how the activity ran:
- The students were very keen to be involved in the writing of the paragraphs and the idea of the activity worked well. Students said afterwards that they enjoyed the exercise – however it was apparent that students were not as engaged in the editing of the paragraph as they were with the initial writing of the paragraphs. Perhaps this needs to be trialled with some sentences and some answers to specific writing questions – such as ‘re-write this sentence and I will pick my favourite No.’
- On the positive the activity was a success as it engaged the students’ creativity and produced greater engagement with the editing process.