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Professional Development

Leading Let's Think in English 

Following the success of last year's Leading Let's Think in English course, we are recruiting a new cohort for 2021/22. The course is intended for experienced LTE teachers and will provide:
 
•             An opportunity to develop knowledge and understanding of LTE
•             An opportunity to apply this knowledge and understanding in your setting.
•             An opportunity to collaborate and support LTE colleagues.
•             Opportunities to support and present at the LTE Networks. 

The course consists of three whole day sessions and 2 online twilights across an academic year. For further information contact: michael.walsh@letsthink.org.uk

Doncaster Let's Think in English cluster

Working in partnership with Richmond Hill Primary Academy and The Rose Learning Trust, Let's Think in English is offering training to schools in Doncaster and the surrounding areas in 2021/22. The course consists of 2 full days face to face training, 3 online twilight sessions and a half-day visit to Richmond Hill to observe how they have implemented the programme. For further information contact: michael.walsh@letsthink.org.uk

Supporting Let's Think internationally

Let's Think Maths is building up a bank of resources to support teachers working internationally.  The materials include pre-recorded interactive lesson simulations and full sets of some lesson plans and resources. 

These complement a series of live online sessions, where theory is discussed in relation to lessons taught, and the sharing of audio clips or transcripts of lessons, enabling personalised feedback for cohorts or individual teachers.

The resources are also available free of charge to colleagues wanting to use them for ITT work with trainee teachers, either in the UK or internationally. 

For more information, contact sarah.seleznyov@letsthink.org.uk

News

Reviving graded assessment in maths education

A key track of the above mentioned project is to revive a great product of the educational experimentation of the 1980s in England, the Graded Assessment of Mathematics (GAIM) project. This 50-person year, 77 school experimental project, led by Margaret Brown, was the impetus for the age-independent levels of the National Curriculum across subjects and a host of other developments. 

 

GAIM describes the real-life trajectory of progress of all secondary school students in all the areas of mathematics. Although this was described in the 1980s, evidence abounds that progression difficulties, for the majority of students, still persist 40 years on.  GAIM offers a detailed progression map via 528 criteria (attainment points) in 34 topic strands plus 30 general reasoning level guidelines needed for open ended investigations and real-life practical problems.  Much of CAME was based on GAIM progression.

Mundher Adhami, Ian McLachlan. Alex Black and Tim Smith aim to create an interactive online repository of the material, linking the various different sections of the material into an easily searchable resource for teaching and learning.  Contact info@letsthink.org.uk to find out more about the project.
 

Using Let’s Think across the curriculum in Wales, South Africa
and Australia
  

A project initially based in South Africa, Australia and Wales has an ambitious vision for schools to be developed in collaboration with LTF tutors globally.  The vision utilises the Let’s Think / Cognitive Acceleration approach in the three subjects of Maths, Science and English but with a difference.  The difference is for this to be carried out by all teachers in a global network of pilot schools simultaneously.  
 

Vanguard Learning Trust Let's Think Hub

The Vanguard Learning Trust, Let's Think course draws to close on the 23rd June. The final session will support colleagues to reflect upon the training and consider how they can sustain and embed the programme in their setting. Although LT is an intervention programme teachers apply many of the pedagogical principles in their day to day teaching. The concluding session provides an opportunity for teachers to use the LT structure to plan their own lessons inspired by LT and consider next steps.

We are looking forward to supporting VLT colleagues to embed the programme via further training opportunities in the 2021/22 academic year. Further details to follow.  
 
The summer Let's Think in English Networks are scheduled for 22nd June (primary) and 29th June (secondary). The primary meeting includes teacher workshops on effective bridging and talk while the secondary meeting will consider two new LTE lessons.

Research and Reading

Oracy All-Party Parliamentary Group Report


The Oracy All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) published its final Inquiry report which highlights the significant impact of the pandemic on the already marked spoken ‘language gap’ between disadvantaged students and their peers. The report finds that the development of spoken language skills requires purposeful and intentional teaching and learning throughout children’s schooling, yet there is a concerning variation in the time and attention afforded to oracy across schools, meaning that for many children, the opportunity to develop these skills is left to chance. 
 

Evaluating the use of compacted interventions with CASE


Although the full suite of thirty lessons from the CASE intervention have been tested (and found to be effective at both improving students’ level of thinking as measured using the Piagetian Reasoning Tasks (PRT) and their school performance compared with control groups, a number of interventions have been reported using a smaller number of lessons. 

For example, in a small-scale study in Indonesia, Prabowo, and Widodo (2019) reported large gains in the intervention group of Year Nine students (mean age 11.6) compared with a control group using eight lessons. In Israel, a short intervention of the first four CASE lessons with Year Nine students was effective in supporting students' ability to use the control of variables reasoning scheme’ (Babai and Levit-Dori, 2009, p. 439).

With this reference in mind, it was pleasing to see that the use of CASE lessons as a smaller scale intervention is still present in Science Education. Hugerat et al.(2014) used just three CASE style lessons in a quasi-experimental comparison with the traditional mode of delivery for Grade Six Arab students in Israel. The study is only small scale (N=22 for each group) and there are clearly some questions about the pre- and post-testing time scale and the validity of the measurement instruments. However, the concept of modifying the context of CASE lessons but keeping fidelity to the teaching approach, is in itself interesting.  This  may allow CASE methodology to be situated in a diverse number of educational settings.
 
The importance of variables and control of variables schemata in particular  are reported largely in a vast array of literature. They are clearly considered essential if learners in late primary and early secondary are to fruitfully take part in science inquiry. This is where CASE methodology can be an essential starting point for inquiry based curricula such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
 
References
 
Babai, R., Levit-Dori, T. (2009) Several CASE Lessons Can Improve Students’ Control of Variables Reasoning Scheme Ability. J Sci Educ Technol 18, 439–446. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-009-9161-7
Hugerat, M; Najami, N; Abbasi, M; Dkeidek, I. (2014) The Cognitive Acceleration Curriculum As A Tool For Overcoming Difficulties In The Implementation Of Inquiry Skills In Science Education Among Primary School Students, Journal of Baltic Science Education; Vol. 13, Iss. 4,  523–534.
Oliver, M., Venville, G. (2017). Bringing CASE in from the Cold: the Teaching and Learning of Thinking. Res Sci Educ 47, 49–66 . https://doi.org/10.1007/s11165-015-9489-3
Prabowo, C.A., & Widodo,W.  (2019).Cognitive  Acceleration  through  Science  Education  (CASE) program: Accelerating students’  cognitive  development.JPBI   (Jurnal   Pendidikan   Biologi   Indonesia), 5(2), 353-360.doi: https://doi.org/10.22219/jpbi.v5i2.7024

 

The importance of schema

Supporting children’s schemas in play-based activities and curricula are a valued and embedded part of early childhood practice in many education systems. This study takes place in South East Wales, where practitioners are provided with little guidance on supporting children’s schemes, and there is limited references to schemes within early years policy documents. The study provides empirical data comparing children’s levels of involvement in literacy and numeracy activities between those planned for schematically and those planned for non-schematically.

Thomas, A. and Jones, C., 2021. Exploring young children’s levels of involvement with numeracy and literacy–do schemas make a difference? Education 3-13, 49(2), pp.217-226.

Interview with...

Sipho Mpisane

When did you first become engaged with LT?  What was your initial reaction?

I first became involved with Let’s Think when I had an opportunity to become part of a small team that sought to empower the South African education sector by developing world-class educators through effective lesson study-driven professional development, and secondly, to achieve improved mathematics performance for learners.  

 

When I first came across the Let’s Think material, and CAME in particular, I was rather sceptical, to say the least.  Like most, my experience with mathematics at school was often challenging and had resulted in much anxiety.  I was taught to master the subject procedurally and rarely taught for understanding. 

For this reason, my measure of success was directly linked to how much I could recall but not so much what I internalised and understood.  It was this conditioning that made it difficult for me to understand or see the point of Let’s Think. “Where is the real maths?” I kept asking.  It was only when really got to know the lessons that my excitement was unlocked.  Topics that I had dealt with so often before suddenly took on new forms and in no time I began to appreciate the subject in a new light.  I felt empowered like I had never been before, both in my own reasoning and in my approach to teaching.                        

How has LT affected the way you approach teaching and learning?  What difference has it made to pupils you teach and what's your evidence for this?

My approach to teaching and learning has been altered drastically for the better, since incorporating Let’s Think into my own practice.  My teaching is now underpinned by my continued understanding of cognitive development, reasoning and social construction to create an optimal learning classroom environment that is accessible and enjoyable for all my pupils.  I have come to appreciate that learning is not only a cognitive exercise, it is a social and emotional undertaking as well.  What CAME has unlocked in my learners is an incredible sense of self-belief.  They have enjoyed the process of learning while discovering previously untapped abilities to reason, problem solve and confidently communicate their own thinking.  This has had a significant impact on their mathematics results and cognitive levels.  

Early results from the South African intervention  showed notable impact on the maths performance of the learners as well as on their cognitive development over a one-year period.   The intervention group consisted of 220 Grade 8  learners from a disadvantaged high school in Johannesburg South Africa. Results showed a significant shift in performance against all comparative groups indicating early positive results. Within the same school, the results showed a 14% improvement in the final year mark, compared to the previous year, and significantly better performance as compared to the circuit district and province (an average of +22%). 

After one year, the intervention Grade 8 students sat the Thessaloniki assessment and these results were compared to those of the prior year Grade 8 control class.  Two outcomes were of note, firstly, an effect size of 0.54 and secondly, a greater number of students reaching the cognitive level that enables the capacity to think abstractly and demonstrate hypothetical and deductive reasoning i.e. a Piagetian score >7. 

In the intervention group, just under 10% of learners achieved >7 on the standardized test compared to 0% in the control group. This is important as this level is the start of formal operational thinking.  Equally encouraging was the fact that the results in the control group show a shift in all learners past the very lowest levels of performance on the test i.e. >4.  

Where are you now with LT and where next?

My exciting journey with Let’s Think continues as I now have the opportunity to bring CAME to another school with a new group of Grade 8 pupils at St Stithians Boys’ College. The power of the lessons continues to inspire me as an educator as I witness the engagement and reasoning in the boys I am privileged to interact with.  Equally exciting are the prospects of integrating Let’s Think into the professional development track within Boys’ College. Over the next year, we also hope to roll out Let’s Think as part of the internship programme to train and develop new educators, as well as introducing the lessons to more learners from underprivileged schools in partnership with other stakeholders.   


 

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