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Thinking School

Thinking School


A Thinking school is one that begins by encouraging their students to start thinking about their thinking. Every partnered school uses a standardised Thinking Toolkit which consists of hats, keys and maps used to focus and guide student’s learning.

These tools are used in tandem with an approach to teaching that instils a growth mindest and ‘can do’ attitude. Through their time in a Thinking School, students will develop the right habits to ensure they are successful throughout education and beyond.

We want every student in our schools to be inquisitive and confident in themselves. Our thinking toolkit is how we support them through this journey. Read more on the relevant pages below for a more in-depth guide through the specific components that comprise a Thinking School.

A Thinking School is more than just a title, to become one the school has to earn the Thinking accreditation from Exeter University.

Below is more information about the Thinking Toolkit our curriculum will be structure around. More information on Thinking Schools, including our ‘Habits of Mind’ and ‘CoRT Tools’ can be found on our Trust website: https://www.tsatrust.org.uk/what-is-a-thinking-school/

Thinking Tools

Thinking Hats

The 6 Thinking Hats each represent a different type of Thinking. They are used in lessons to encourage students to think carefully and critically – encouraging them to think beyond their own perspectives and holistically respond to situations rather than only using one type of Thinking.

How Are They Used?


The Thinking Hats provide the opportunity to develop reflective and flexible thinkers who carefully look for solutions, whilst acknowledging positives, limitations, facts and emotions. The Hats also weave an important thread through the pastoral curriculum and provide a clear and structured framework to discuss thoughts and feelings; for example, by working through a 6 Hat analysis and reflecting from the different perspectives, students can gain a deeper understanding of how their behaviour impacts others and begin to rationalise their emotions in a non-destructive manner. They also provide a flexible approach to discussions as there is no rules regarding the order the students use the hats in or which hats they choose to omit or revisit. This means that students can guide their own analysis leaving no stone unturned. The approach in this sense can improve student independence and confidence.

Thinking Hats are an easy to remember visual tool for learners to ensure they look at all perspectives to provide well rounded responses. Younger learners can often be seen placing actual hats on their heads and discussing from the perspective of that hat, for example discussing the positive attributes of a book character and why, whilst sporting a bright yellow hat. Some younger learners within our Trust have actions for each hat to help them focus their thoughts whilst some older learners self-select which Hats they require to evaluate during a specific learning activity.

Hat

Type of Thinking

Questions to stimulate thinking

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Emotions

How does that make you feel?

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Positives

What is good and why?

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Limitations

What might a limitation be and why?

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Facts

What are the facts we already know? What do we not know?

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Solutions/Creativity

How might we solve that? What strategies have we got?

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Process control

Where have we been? What are our next steps?

 

Thinking Keys

We use the first version of Tony Ryan’s Thinking Keys to stimulate different types of Thinking. The Keys help ‘unlock’ critical and creative thinking. Some of the Keys are quite linear and some are creative, which enables them to be carefully selected and work well with different ages groups and across all curriculum areas.

How Are They Used?


The specific Key used in any learning episode is selected based on the needs intended to be met – this can be subject related or skill based. For example, the BAR Key might be used to evaluate a team performance in a Physical Education lesson or to assess a worked example in Maths. On the other hand, an Inventions Key might be used to start an English lesson and not be content related because it is used to set the tone for the creative thinking that will be needed in the lesson. Although some Keys are similar in terms of description and require similar thinking, the end results can look very different.

For many teachers the Keys provide methods to encourage students to build understanding, retrieve prior learning and the opportunity to apply and be creative with their understanding. Some staff will use a Key as a starter or a mini plenary during a lesson whilst others will encourage students to be independent with their use and self- select which Key could be used to meet the needs of a task.

Key Name Brief Explanation
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Great for building up subject specific vocabulary. Students identify words that begin with each letter

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Students are asked to consider or design questions which ask what ‘cannot’ or ‘would never’ be

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Students asked to consider or design questions that prompt what if thinking

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Students consider the potential limitations

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Seeking to combine the features of two ideas or concepts to design a better idea

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Students asked what they might make Bigger, Add or Replace in an idea or design

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Students seek alternative methods to meet an end point- how many ways might you…?

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Students provided with a picture and asked to link it to a topic

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Think of possible outcomes to a set of given circumstances

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Imaginative and creative uses for an object – perceptual rather than conceptual thinking

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Seeking to justify a statement that could be classed as difficult to implement

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Two unrelated objects, pictures or concepts and students are asked to find a commonality

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Identifying answers and asking students to identify possible questions that lead to the answers provided

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Contemplating solutions to problems

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Devise an invention from the use of unrelated materials

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Identify different ways to deal withideas or concepts that are valued as ‘truths’

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Using everyday materials physically construct useful objects related to the topic or ‘construct’ key meaning from pieces of knowledge

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Identifying the benefits from a forced relationship between two objects or ideas

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Looking for alternative ways to solve a problem

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Identify different interpretations of your own of an event i.e. look for different perspectives

 

Thinking Maps

The infusion of Hyerle’s Thinking Maps across the whole curriculum has provided our students with a method to sort and present information, providing a rich vocabulary to express and discuss their ideas in relation to the content they are studying and their underlying thinking.

How Are They Used?


The application of a Map to a task is not arbitrary – each Map links to a specific thinking process which is informed by the nature of a specific task. For example, in English, comparing and contrasting two characters using specific terminology could be supported by the use of a double bubble map. All learners within the class might use a ‘double bubble’ to share their ideas but the task might be differentiated through the application of a relevant ‘Frame of Reference’. These frames add a level of teacher and student flexibility to the highly structured Maps, which otherwise might be too rigid.

 

Thinking Map

Thinking Process

Bubble map

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Describing

Double Bubble Map

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Comparing and contrasting

Tree Map

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Classifying

Brace Map

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Identifying whole/part relationships

Flow Map

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Sequencing

Multi-Flow Map

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Causes and effects

Circle Map

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Defining in context

Bridge Map

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Seeing analogies