“Engagement levels and marks in the longer written responses have both improved”.

Heather Garland, Head of Department, St. John Plessington Catholic College

Develop skilled thinkers who enjoy solving difficult problems

● Do you get frustrated when students don’t know how to approach certain tasks?
● Would you like to encourage more autonomy in the classroom?
● What does the research say about critical thinking and problem-solving?
● What do curriculum bodies look for in skilled problem-solvers?
● How do we change classroom habits to promote ‘real thinkers’?

Why is problem solving an essential educational and 21st Century Skill?

The next generation of learners will be walking into workplaces that are complex and fast paced. Routine jobs are slowly disappearing and our young people will have to adapt by developing their critical thinking skills and problem-solving capabilities. Exam boards around the world are also changing to accommodate these sort of dispositions. Educational success now depends upon these sort of abilities but for too long we have seen them as ‘nice to have.’

This course explores practical ways to increase students, of all ages, in problem-solving pedagogies. We look at how we can turn typical classroom activities into engaging tasks where learners do the hard cognitive work.

If you want to find out more, why not book this engaging, thoughtful and problem busting training for your school INSET?

INSET outline

Overview of the necessity to pursue the development of critical thinking abilities and problem-solving aptitudes.

● What does the cognitive science literature tell us about critical thinking?
● How do we go about promoting problem solving in different subjects?
● How do we promote cultures of deeper thinkers?

Educational systems around the world are trying to address the changing nature of work by creating better problem solvers. In a recent white paper it was stated that we need a new generation of problem finders, individuals who are capable of diagnosing problems and initiating their own strategies. Mark schemes are also weighted towards answers that use learning verbs like ‘infer’ and ‘predict’. Higher-order thinking, in general, is a sought after skill and we start the course by unpicking what this means.

What do we mean by critical thinking and how can we increase the chances of it happening?

● What potential barriers are in the way of critical thinking and how can we remove them?
● How do we best install strategies for problem-solving?
● How can we use different thinking taxonomies to increase our students depth of thinking?

Cognitive science can tell us a lot about critical thinking and how to best promote problem-solving. We look at some simple ways of changing classroom practice that has the potential to yield deeper answers and more thoughtful responses.

What strategies are available to us to make critical thinking happen?

The emphasis of the workshop will be on practical applications that all teachers can use in the classroom. There is no ‘one size fits all’ and staff will be encouraged to think about how the strategies can be combined to produce really effective and thought-provoking lessons.

Strategies will include:
● Reasoning – Critical thinking and using information effectively
● Philosophical enquiry – Thinking in groups.
● Metacognition – Knowing how to move forward.
● Computational Thinking – Using the cognitive process in other subjects

How do we know problem solving is happening and how do we monitor progress?

In recent years, we have seen the development of different taxonomies that help us draw conclusions about the success of critical thinking and problem-solving in the classroom. Knowing what it looks like and the dynamics involved will help teachers draw their own conclusions about the impact it is having.

● What social skills could we see developing?
● Under what conditions does the best practice happen?
● Designing tasks to foster critical thinking.

Free CPD Consultation

If you want to learn more about this or other In-school INSET courses, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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