So my thoughts first about what has been happening in the classroom in relation to my inquiry of developing higher order thinking in reading.
The needs of my reading groups are very varied. The way we have organised our two classes is that I take the higher levels and lower levels. This means that 1/2 of my reading groups are reading at a year 1 reading level or less, whereas the other half are reading at or above their age.
Initially I tried to incorporate activities for the lower readers that involved deeper levels of thinking. However the amount of time needed to explain tasks and support them through them was to the detriment of regular reading instruction of new texts to develop the much needed reading strategies they need to accelerate their progress. So I have limited their follow-up activities to one sort so they become really familiar with doing it well. Once they become competent doing this type of response I will gradually introduce variations. This has meant that I have managed to focus more on developing the skills they are really in need of. The key element in activities for them to respond to text is first that it is manageable for them, that it doesn't involve the learning of too many skills at one time or that if there are needed to be skills learnt those can then be practised until they become competent before introducing more skills. I think this was part of the problem I faced this term in expecting the children to easily undertake the tasks I had set without providing the necessary scaffolding to support them. This term I hope to gradually shift what the children are doing so that the tasks will involve more higher order thinking.
With the other half of the class I have been including a response to their reading text that involves an activity or two which incorporates higher order thinking on the Blooms taxonomy. The children have enjoyed these challenges but have needed much more guidance to complete them in the time given and to push them to complete them to a high standard.
Bethan's Alarm Clock (BARred)
What was most interesting about this term's learning was the e-learning task. We got the children to recreate a Mario Brothers game. They were really engaged and enjoyed the creativity of the task. They learnt and bounced ideas of each other and had fun coming up with different settings and scenarios. The great thing about the task was that it had no end as they could continue to create new levels. This has meant that theyhave continued to be as engaged now as they were at the start.
What this has shown is that the right task has the potential to really motivate and inspire children. Although this task didn't involve any reading or writing it involved a good deal of thought. How can we take this example and the key components it entailed to make other areas of learning more successful.
Room 11 Mario PENN from Team 3 PES on Vimeo.
So Big Picture.
Something I have been pondering about is the over use of devices in education. Because devices give you access to so many different activities that can come under all curriculum areas the danger is that we over use the devices out of ease and so greatly narrow the type of activities children are exposed to. Looking at this in light of the video clip about Western Education as it is we have greatly narrowed what we see as knowledge. My thoughts are that we should limit the amount of time that devices can be used to ensure that more children are given the opportunity to do practical activities that expose them to knowledge about their environment.
I have been looking at the potential school gardens can have in ensuring that real life practical knowledge and skills are embedded in our programme - skills that are so valuable in so many ways. I would love to explore this possibility more. Even if it was just a focus for the Junior School. However a school garden is only one way that we could extend what the children view and experience as knowledge. I am keen to keep mulling over this and think of ways this could be incorporated into what we already do in order to develop a breadth of learning.