Thinking Skills

Project Representative
Ms Rawda Eada
Creation Date: 2008
Headquarters: Jordan
Nature and number of beneficiaries: Teachers
Contact

Thinking Skills

About the Project

The project is a training program for teachers on how to teach thinking skills to students while teaching the curriculum without the need for extra time and effort. 
This program aims to help teachers prepare teaching activities through which they can both finish their lessons and train students in at least one thinking skill every time they meet.
It has been developed and tested over a period of more than 15 years and proved to work successfully.
The training program is structured as follows:

  1. Thinking as a process is divided into stages. People go through these stages automatically without being aware of them. During each of the stages a number of skills are being used. The degree to which these skills are mastered varies from person to person. This is why people vary in their thinking abilities.
  2. These skills are identified.
  3. Each skill is correlated with a question. When a question is asked, the brain naturally starts looking for an answer to that question. This is a curious habit of the brain. If the right question is asked, then half of the problem is solved, as the brain will go in the right direction when looking for the solution. Training the brain to keep asking, and to ask the right question in the right situation is one step towards mastering thinking skills. The other one is to train the brain to find answers to these questions.
  4. Each question is correlated with key words that help in looking for the answer.
  5. Questions with key words for their answers are the framework for a class activity through which a lesson can be taught. Different types of activities are introduced for each skill. Varying the form and level of the activity according to the class grade is also part of the training process.
  6. The suitable types of lessons to train the students on each skill are identified.

This program works for all kinds of knowledge-based subjects like languages, humanities, the sciences, etc. It works for primary, intermediate and high-school level students.

Context and Issue

It is vital to master 21st-century skills nowadays, and most important among them are thinking skills. Mastering thinking skills is the ‘’master skill’’ as it enables one to master all other skills easily.

Teaching thinking skills has been worked on by many people, developing special programs to do so. These programs need time and effort from both teachers and students to be applied. The teachers and students already have very full curricula that they have to work through. This is why it easier to teach thinking skills while teaching to the curriculum.

For the teachers to do this, they need to know what these thinking skills are and how to prepare classroom activities that address the curriculum and train students in thinking skills at the same time.

Solution and Impact

This program is a 36-hour intensive training course for teachers.
It is a starting kit that enables teachers to correlate each type of lesson with at least one thinking skill and prepare a suitable activity to do so, according to the grade level of the students.

This course has been tested with many students in different school and grade levels, and also different teaching programs like the A-level and IB DP students.

One way to measure the success of the program is the types of questions students ask in class and the change in type in the course of the school year.

Another way to measure is based on the results of the students in exams that have a high percentage of questions that address HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills).

A third is the feedback from parents and even the students themselves.

This course has been given several times to teachers and the feedback from them was very positive.

Future Developments

36 hours of training is not easy to prepare, either for the teacher or the school.

As a result, it was decided to provide the training in a different, easier way.
- One suggestion was to do it online in the form of several mini-sessions in each of which a few skills are covered.
- Another was to prepare self-training kits for the teachers to train themselves at their own pace.
- A third was to prepare an app that works like a wizard for the teacher. The teacher feeds in the type of lesson and grade, and the app suggests the suitable thinking skill(s) to train students in through this lesson, with examples of activities to be prepared for this purpose.

The first two of these methods are currently being worked on, and the kits will soon be available online.

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