School Name: Nakusp Secondary School
School District: SD#10 Arrow Lakes
Inquiry Team Members:Tori Reid: firstname.lastname@example.org, Julia Flesaker: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Mathematics / Numeracy, Science, Social Studies
Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Flexible learning, Self-regulation
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Creating a thinking classroom using strategies inspired by Peter Liljedal
Scanning: Our curiosity was peaked after a professional learning opportunity with Peter Liljedal. His workshop on ‘Thinking Classrooms’ inspired us to revisit our teaching methodology and classroom environments. Our students typically work with their friends and tend to absorb what their told, rather than think about it and question why. They are happy to do the work and learn, but don’t really think about what or why they are learning.
Focus: While examining the revised curriculum, we noticed that critical thinking is a core competency. Critical thinking is easily integrated into all science and math topics.
Hunch: Our classrooms are old and set up in the traditional factory learning format. Students sit at desks for a lesson and then work at desks on an assignment. Students have ingrained habits and are comfortable working with mostly their friends and sitting in ‘their spot’. Students believe learning is being told something and then practicing what they are told.
New Professional Learning: We followed the Thinking Classroom structure outlined by Peter Liljedahl. We focused on a asking good questions to promote self thought and forming random groups every time a group activity occurs. We used vertical surfaces (windows and boards) and white boards for students to display their thinking. We “defronted” our classrooms and changed the desk arrangements. We only answered “keep thinking questions”. To determine whether these changes were successful, we measured student engagement and expected to see greater understanding in assessments. Our assessments were designed to check on thinking ability, rather than a student’s ability to repeat.
Taking Action: Defronted classroom- desks arranged in a way that their is no true front
Vertical learning- working with groups on whiteboards and other erasable surfaces while standing at a vertical surface
Randomized groups- using cards or flippity app
Identifying independent questions- focused on thinking that is relevant to individual students (independent projects in science 9, science 10, outdoor ed, social studies 9 and physics 12)
Questioning (teacher)- we avoided answering simple questions and responded with prompts to promote own thinking.
Assessment- focusing on skills. Promoting thinking rather than repeating. For example: Science 10 final exam was open book and students were taught how to use the textbook as a tool to help them utilize a resource rather than memorizing. Exam had complex questions rather that encouraged thinking and synthesizing information from a source.
Checking: We saw that this project increased students willingness to work with other students and there was a significant increase in students trying to find an answer on their own before asking for assistants. Students responded well to multiple seating options and did not react when seating was variable. Students were engaged and remained engaged in thinking based labs and activities. We saw deeper responses and more engagement during assessments. Overall, it seemed that students had more confidence in their ability to solve problems and work with others.
Reflections/Advice: Our advice is to follow the thinking classroom stages set out by Peter Liljedal. It provided framework that supported both students and teachers.
Our next step is to implement the remaining stages in the thinking classroom framework and continue this work as students progress to higher grades.
We will continue this work as it aligned well with the new curriculum and new reporting order.