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Written by Deidre Jennings

Parent Category: Theory

Category: Thinking Task Framework

Created: 12 February 2012
Step 2 guides you in HOW TO help your learners to cope with the challenging task they have been offered and HOW TO scaffold your learners activities/actions while building an algorithm for solving the challenging task they are offered.
So now you have a task (from step 1) you would like the students to tackle! What next?…FIRST  before you start  (recommended!) do the task yourself and see what steps you go through in order to complete the challenge. This trial run really helps and can turn up some surprises!
Write down all the steps/processes followed and make notes on;
 the skills (& knowledge) you expect the kids to be using while working on this task
 the resources (or information) they will need/or be allowed to use or access
 skills or processes you'll need to directly teach students while working on/attempting the task
 the thinking skills they will need to use/be introduced to (click here for lists), (click here for an example).
 where your kids are likely to get stuck (which is a good thing!)
Keep the list in a table format like this (with example of working through the analysis form).

 Function of STEP 2 for learners: change learners approach of coping with the challenging tasks/problems from “not knowing how” and “guessing” to “using specific thinking models/skills for building a solution/algorithm”.
 Function of STEP 2guide for teachers: change the teachers’ skills in scaffolding their learners from “not knowing how to guide learners in developing and algorithm” to “having an idea on how to scaffold/support/guide your learners in building an algorithm (NOT just giving them the steps)”.
Step 2 is divided into three SUBSTEPS which are described below.
SUBSTEP 2.1. Build a generic description of the task
Essentially this means generalising the problem. At first you won't be able to do this with your students (you'll just tell them) because they will need to learn how. Over time and with practice you will be able to transfer responsibility for this step to your students.
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SUBSTEP 2.2. Introduce (or remind students about) thinking models to apply to the task
A first you will need to teach students the skills associated with the thinking model you've chosen to deal with the task and teach them how to apply it. Over time students will become familiar with and be able to apply a variety of thinking models and you will transfer to them the responsibility for choosing the model to apply.
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SUBSTEP 2.3. Building the algorithms
Building algorithms means writing out the series of steps followed in order to complete the task, in essence making the steps in the students' thinking processes visible to them (and you). Over time this allows the students to become more able, agile and systematic thinkers.
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SUBSTEP 2.1 Build a generic description of the task
 Function: change learners’ view of the problem given in the task from “contextspecific” and “contextbound” to “generic”.
 Outcome: generic description of the task/of the problem given in the task.
 HINT: To understand the problem, consider treating it as one of a family/class of problems and analysing the family.
When solving a nontypical problem/doing a challenging task one has to be able to abstract from the context the problem is wrapped in and to see this problem on a higher level – the level of a super system. It allows you to switch from ‘comparing 4 famous people’ (specific task) to ‘compare and contrast’ (generic task)…. When you offer learners a challenging task, they start seeking the solution on the level of your contextwrapped problem. By building a generic description of the task you open your learners up to a new perspective on the problem and, thus, a new perspective on possible solutions. 
Possible procedure:
 Repeat the task: So, our task is to “Compare the differences between four groups of famous people, for example: actors, writers, politicians, criminals”.
 Move learners’ thinking above the context: So we need to make a comparison between four different elements.
 Ask if learners’ know typical solution for a generic problem: How do we normally compare things? What does it mean to compare two different elements?
Support resources:
 Examples of generic task descriptions for different subjects e.g. compare and contrast tasks, analysis tasks (in progress)
SUBSTEP 2.2. Introduce (or remind students about) thinking models for coping with this generic task/challenge
Function:
 change from not knowing about the model to knowing about the model;
 understanding that applying a thinking model (e.g. ENV) may help solve the challenge
 independently applying a thinking model to solve the challenge
Outcome:
 (at first) knowledge of the existence of a thinking model (including associated vocabulary). We can measure their recall of vocabulary and structure of the tool, then later check application – sometimes kids won’t be able to do more than learn vocabulary at first.
 (later on) the pupils start understanding the application of the thinking model
 (eventually) the pupils start reaching the learning goal by using a model doing a task or a series of tasks
 (ultimately)  gradually the pupils start collecting and building a collection of models by themselves
Possible procedure:
 Introduce the pupils a thinking model to do a task/solve a problem when they have got stuck and don’t know how to proceed.
 Teach them how to use it. Use a simple example to start with. Do it together with the pupils at first (e.g. model the use of ENV for the kids). Playing a yesno game (needs a link, guess a number, animal I’m thinking of) is a good example that illustrates ENV as a model. The pupils learn to start from parameters (variables) instead of guessing (trial and error) values.
 Over time students will become familiar with it and will be able to apply a variety of thinking models and you will transfer to them the responsibility for choosing the model to apply.
SUBSTEP 2.3 (in progress)
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