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Professional Development

Let’s Think in Maths moves online

Three new projects will begin this academic year, using blended approaches to enable teachers to access Let’s Think in Maths professional development during the COVID-related challenging circumstances.  The programme will combine pre-recorded lesson simulations, live discussions with teachers in which they ask about lessons they plan to teach and reflect on those they have taught, and Let’s Think Tutors reviewing short clips of videos or transcripts of dialogue from Let’s Think Maths lessons they have taught.

 

The projects make geographical access easier, and will operate in Hampshire, Wales and Bulgaria.  If you want to find out more about this new model, please contact sarah.seleznyov@letsthink.org.uk

News

Vanguard Learning Trust and LT courses 

The Vanguard Learning Trust and Let's Think Forum are working in partnership to offer high quality professional development. The VLT Let's Think courses commenced on Weds 7th October with 23 participants. The introductory session explored the theoretical underpinnings and reviewed the research behind the LT programmes before subject tutors led lesson simulations with teachers exploring the lessons. The course consists of five twilights across the academic year. 

Let's Think in English Zoom with Smriti Prasadam-Halls


The LTE team wrote a new lesson inspired by Smriti Prasadam-Halls' wonderful book "Rain before Rainbows". See: https://stayhome.walker.co.uk/rainbows.

LTE schools used the book to relaunch the programme this academic year. They have been sharing examples of their work on the new LTE Showcase website: https://showcase.letsthinkinenglish.org/rain-before-rainbows.

 

On the 12th October Smriti Prasadam-Halls hosted an online Zoom meeting for primary LTE pupils providing an overview of her career, the inspiration behind Rain before Rainbows and a Q&A. 47 classes from Cornwall, Devon, Hampshire, London, Norfolk, Nottingham and more attended the session. 
 

Keeping LTE alive in an online community

 
The LT English team are keeping professional discussion and exchange alive in an online world:
  • Termly network meetings will be held online and after school to improve access for all.
  • New blended learning courses have been created to introduce teachers new to LTE in existing LTE schools.
  • As well as new blogs on our website, an LTE Showcase platform has been created, where schools can upload reflections, outcomes and bridging tasks related to specific lessons.

Online access to Cognitive Acceleration and Let’s Think teaching resources

The Let's Think Science team have been working on a project to publish all the original CASE, CAME and Primary CAME lessons using Pressbooks system.

This system will allow all the lessons to be archived publicly in a modern digital form but more importantly, keep the authentic lesson content. This work will be available as a tribute to the world class educational research and development it represents.

These original lessons will also be a source for adaptations, translations into other languages and as an inspiration for bridging lessons: examples here http://community.letsthink.org.uk/casebridging/front-matter/introduction/.

We are contacting people and being contacted by many who want to become involved in this collaborative publishing community. This will allow us to share ideas, new lessons and allow rich opportunities for continuing professional development in cognitive acceleration.

If you are interested in becoming involved please contact info@letsthink.org.uk.
 

Research and Reading

New Blog Posts

The LTE team published a number of new blog posts in September.
 
An interview with a primary teacher discussing how LTE sustained them during the initial lockdown: https://www.letsthinkinenglish.org/3102-2/
 
Advice on how to teach and maintain  LTE in the COVID classroom: https://www.letsthinkinenglish.org/some-advice-on-teaching-lte-in-a-covid-safe-classroom/
 
An exploration of  LTE professional development and the legacy of CASE:
https://www.letsthinkinenglish.org/the-mirror-effective-professional-development/

 

More reading...

How a skilful teacher intervenes in independent maths learning activities.
 
Klemp’s article about the teacher’s role in supporting mathematical learning analyses a skilled teacher’s communication while scaffolding pupils’ work in Year 2–4.  The pupils are working in small groups developing and formulating their strategies without any substantial teacher interventions, as might happen in a Let’s Think lesson. The findings may help teachers carefully shape their interventions with small groups in Let’s Think lessons so as to maximise pupil thinking and independence.
 
Klemp, T., 2020. Early mathematics–teacher communication supporting the pupil’s agency. Education 3-1348(7), pp.833-846.


 

Interview with...

Mundher Adhami by Alan Edmiston
 

Mundher Adhami, LTM author and founder of the Let's Think Forum, decided to scale back his active work as he moves towards 'retirement'. In tribute I would like to share the outcome of an interview I conducted with him concerning the Vygoskian roots of the LTM work.

 

I have enormous respect for Mundher Adhami, who was a founding member of the Let’s Think Forum and Michael Shayer’s main collaborator in the development of the Cognitive Acceleration in Mathematics materials from Years 1 to 9. 

There is much I could say in personal tribute about Mundher but for this newsletter I feel I should share some of his thinking regarding Lev Vygotsky, the Russian psychologist around whose ideas Let’s Think is built. What you may not know, is that Mundher is able to translate Vygotsky from the original Russian! In June I was able to interview him to explore what the original work of Vygotsky was able to add to an understanding of both CASE and CAME projects, in terms of classroom management. Mundher’s insights shed some very interesting light on Let’s Think practice.
 
In the interview ,Mundher discussed the problems of using Vygotsky’s ideas as teaching advice, his views on the role of language in cognitive development and also the nature of non-spontaneous and spontaneous thought.  He was keen to stress that due to the fact that Vygotsky died at a young age, much consistency and coherence are missing from his writing. Such a short career meant that he did not have the time to carry out much empirical research, but he should still be be widely acknowledged for recognising that social cognition relies on individual digestion of what is presented.
 
Regarding the problem of translation he felt that there are many words, in Russian, for social interaction and collaboration between people. Any translation needs to be careful and must look at the shades of meaning through an analysis of the roots of the words. For example “sovmestnaya” is togetherness or relatedness and also in the same place (so=together, mesto = place). Similarly “sotrudnichestvo” is working together (truda=work).  “Cooperativno “ has a Latin root, “collectivno” which refers to an attitude rather than to any sense of work or collaboration.  So, the same reading of Thought and Language (Vygotsky, 2012) could result in one person focusing upon a pupils’ attitude while another could highlight the need for collaboration or togetherness.
 
In terms of the nature of higher level or scientific thought, in Let’s think Maths  Michael Shayer and Mundher Adhami focused upon the idea that the word sets you free i.e. the word, or label, enables you to generalize, free from the initial action, to a higher level of thought. This allows you to leave the context behind and move away from thinking which is restricted to given or specific situations. So, the focus in Let’s Think lessons is on developing higher levels of thought through the process of freeing the concept from the context. The words that emerge from the original context carry meaning, and verbalisation enables their use within the same context, or in application to a new context. The words pupils use and agree upon are critical, as they allow the child to transcend the context through words, which leads to the ability to generalise and think at a much higher level.

Mundher acknowledged that Vygotsky pioneered the social side of learning and the notion that the best teaching is ahead of development, as exemplified in Let’s Think lessons. This is a dynamic process and involves a constant need for the teacher to pitch ideas or work just beyond where children are at i.e. n + 1. That implies that teachers need to know the n, the thinking level of the individual child, and what the +1 means, i.e. the next thinking sub level. It also implies knowing the cognitive demand level of the task handled by the child.  Such a difficult task is at the heart of the decision to use the Piagetian hierarchy of levels to support the cognitive development of individuals towards scientific thought in Vygotskian terms.
 
Finally, Mundher was able to shed some light on how this works in practice in the classroom.  The best mediation comes through peers and therefore the role of the teacher is to support peer-to-peer mediation. Let’s Think lessons allow teachers to work within the children’s shared Zone of Proximal Development, enabling children to see and hear ‘successful performances’ that are nearer to them than their teachers’ level of thinking would be. The teacher needs to be ready to prod or prompt children to move to the next step, but not to tell, in response to pupils’ thinking. While pairs or small groups of children are working on the task, the teacher listens, challenges and supports, steering them towards manageable conflicts. In Let’s Think Maths lessons the guidance is written so as to help the teacher both understand the conceptual hierarchy (based upon both subject matter and the specific class) and the typical responses of pupils working at each different Piagetian level within the task.

To me what became clear at this point was the episodic nature of Let’s Think Maths, which is different to that of the secondary CASE project. At the end of each episode is a time of reflection where good words or ideas could be shared and collected ready for use in the work to come.  This could happen three times in some longer maths lessons. It also made me realise that quotes should not be taken out of context and those famous phrases from Vygotsky shared on many a power point slide need careful consideration before being directly applied to the classroom.

Vygotsky, L.S., 2012. Thought and language. MIT press.


 

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