Conference programme

The English track of the conference took place on 28-29 August 2020. The programme included over 24 speakers from 10 countries. You can purchase access to conference recordings and materials shared by the presenters. Access to the recordings of the English track costs EUR 19 while access to all conference sessions costs EUR 29. Place your order.



13:30 - 13:45  Conference opening

13:45 - 14:30  Assessment tools for thinking skills: why, what and how. Irina Buchinska, Natalia Kovilina, Renata Jonina, Dr. Alexander Sokol, TA Group, Latvia

irina  natalia  renata  sokol  

Over the past three years the Latvian team of the Erasmus+ strategic partnership “Assessment Companion for Thinking Skills” (ACTS) have been developing tools for monitoring and assessing thinking skills of learners. Several versions of each tool were developed and tested both in the classroom and during workshops with teachers. In this talk we will give a brief overview of all the tools and the approach to their development, explain why this particular approach was chosen and how the tools can be used in the classroom. After that you will be able to learn more about some of the tools during the workshop facilitated by the developers.


14:30 - 15:45  A tool for assessing learners' skills of description and its use with secondary school students of English. Irina Buchinska, Daugavpils Lyceum of Technologies, Latvia.


When dealing with various problems, it is important to be able to describe different objects, events, phenomena. The skill ensures a deeper, more specifically, wider vision of the element/s which enables a more comprehensive problem understanding and a more successful problem solution. During this session the participants will get acquainted with a tool for assessing learners’ skills to describe different objects, events, notions, etc. when dealing with a problem. The participants will also have an opportunity to use the tool for assessing authentic products developed by learners.


15:45 - 16:00  Coffee break and free discussion


16:00 - 16:30  Assessment tools for thinking skills from the perspective of Finnish early childhood and primary education. Juli-Anna Aerila, Hilppa Jankama,  Merja Toivanen, Kirsi Urmson, University of Turku, Susan Granlund, Taina Pertola, Kirkonkylä School,  Finland.


Finnish national curriculums from early childhood to end of basic education are based on learning-to-learning and thinking skills. In this presentation, we aim to present the main outcomes of the Finnish ACTS (Assessment Companion for Thinking Skills)-project. The outcomes are concrete materials for the teachers and children to visualize and verbalize the thinking of the children as well as the desired thinking. They highlight how Finnish educational system emphasizes child's own activity and children's mutual activities in all learning. One of the background theories of the Finnish national curriculums is Bloom’s taxonomy, which is the starting point of the ACTS-tools.


16:30 - 17:45  Introducing the Assessment Companion for Thinking Skills, assessment tools developed in the UK through a Strategic Partnership with TA Group, Turku University and schools in Latvia, Finland and the UK. Stuart Twiss, Let’s Think Forum, UK.


This session would be a short introduction to the origins and aims of ACTS, Assement Companion for Thinking Skills, an Erasmus + funded Strategic Partnership.  The session would share how we implemented the project in the UK using this as a springboard to share one tool and its illustration before pointing to the others as contributing sessions. The session will describe the general classroom aspects that we wanted to support teachers with when making their assessments of thinking: climate; language; progress in solving problems and discuss the notion of our assessment tools as being a bridge to a well researched theoretical perspectives on these aspects.


17:45 - 18:00  Coffee break and free discussion

18:00 - 18:30  Assessment tools for thinking skills: discussion of learning experience

18:30 - 19:00  Toward Thinking-Friendly Learning Settings. Dr. Moharram Aghazadeh, CANI College of Education, Canada.

dr mo


Cogito, ergo sum. -Descartes
J. Dewey had put a period to stop discussing about essentiality of thinking. He says, “expatiate upon the importance of thought would be absurd” (1910). Following the reasons that had raised by Dewey, in this presentation, in the first part, I will focus on applying thinking friendly strategies for level of Bloom’ Taxonomy, but I will highlight mostly the evaluating and creating levels. Then I will discuss applying research informed strategies related to the music, visual and kinesthetic arts that educate people in providing thinking-friendly learning settings.


Saturday, 29 August

There will be two parallel tracks of talks / workshops taking place during the day. 

09:00 - 11:00  TA, Let's Think and Socratic Dialogues

Room 1:

09:00 - 09:30  The Thinking Approach: yesterday, today and tomorrow. Dr. Alexander Sokol, TA Group, Latvia.


The Thinking Approach (TA) has been around for more than 20 years. It started as an approach to teaching and learning English, then teachers of other languages began to use it, including those teaching the mother tongue. Nowadays elements of the approach are being used by teachers of all the subjects ranging from Arts to Maths. While the emphasis on developing thinking skills remains the core of the TA, it is often seen by teachers as a methodology for a systematic integration of key skills into the learning process. 

By the end of this presentation you will know the key features of the approach, what it offers to teachers and learners and how you can give it a try in your classroom. Following the talk, my colleagues will share their experience in using the TA for teaching English and maths.

09:35 - 11:00 Thinking Approach based systems of tasks for developing learners’ thinking skills when teaching Maths and English. Irina Buchinska and Olga Mikulova, Daugavpils Lyceum of Technology, Latvia.

irina  mikulova

To achieve a better result when acquiring certain knowledge and developing certain skills it is obvious and widely accepted that the learners should work with systems of tasks rather than with separate tasks. During this session we will share our experience of working with systems of tasks in English and Mathematics aimed at both learners’ subject knowledge and thinking skills development. The tasks are based on a specific model of competence development. Samples of tasks and learners’ works according to these stages will be offered, commented and discussed.


Room 2:

09:00 - 10:00 Let’s Think in English: Reading through collaborative reasoning. Michael Walsh, Let’s Think Forum, UK.


Let’s Think in English (LTE) is based on 30 years’ research at King’s College London which shows that structured development of pupils’ cognitive skills over two years raises their attainment.  LTE is a teaching programme developed at King’s College London to help young people hone the reasoning skills needed for success in English and understanding texts. The lessons are based on structured challenge and include the development of understanding through discussion (social construction), problem-solving (cognitive challenge) and structured reflection (metacognition) which makes pupils more aware of their thinking processes and how they think most effectively. In the workshop you will learn about the pedagogy and research that underpins the programme, sample lessons and explore how LTE works in classrooms.

10:00 - 11:00  On Constancy in Times of Crisis. Kristof Van Rossem, KU Leuven, Belgium.

Kristof Van Rossem

In 1584 the Belgian Stoic philosopher Justus Lipsius published ‘On Constancy’ (in Latin) to inspire people to find peace of mind in crisis times. In those times, crises in Europe was probably bigger than these Corona times. Saying what you really think in times of Reformation could cost your head!

In this workshop, we will start with a reading of a paragraph from this old book. We will first analyse some of his ideas. In the second part of the workshop, we will formulate questions of which we will examine one in a philosophical dialogue. We will look for questions that can inspire us in this ‘lockdown’ situation. 
In facilitating this dialogue, I will show five Socratic movements that determine the direction of my questioning. The last 15 minutes we will discuss tips and tricks to do this with a classgroup.

11:00 - 11:15  Coffee break and free discussion

11:15 - 13:15  Thinking-based learning, socratic seminars and Let's Think

Room 1:

11:15 - 12:15 Merging Methods for and Assessing Students’ Extended Thinking. Dr. Ann Pihlgren, Ignite Research Institute, Sweden.


This paper presentation features the results from an ongoing project where teachers explore the possible cognitive advantages for students when merging two methods for enhancing thinking: Thinking Based Learning and Socratic seminars. The results are closely followed by research and here some of the major results at this point are presented. The aim was to find out if the merging of the two methods would result in better teaching and learning for critical thinking in both schools. To be able to merge the methods, the teachers of the two schools visited and educated each other in the respective method. The practical outcome of the project is, at this point, four merged plans for thematic and subject integrated units to enhance students’ thinking, a research-based planning template that can be used to help the teacher to deepen the cognitive content in teaching, and matrix for assessing the progression of students’ thinking.

12:15 - 13:15 Merging Thinking Based Learning and Socratic Seminars for Enhanced Learning. Dr. Ann Pihlgren and teachers from schools in Sweden and Spain.


This workshop will present the two methods Thinking Based Learning, TBL, and Socratic Seminars and their use in classrooms to enhance thinking among students. The teachers presenting the workshop use the methods regularly with students in different grades to foster abilities like critical thinking, speaking and listening, logic reasoning, drawing conclusions, and participating in thoughtful and respectful dialogues. Each method will be presented with a short workshop task for the participants to experience the method. The workshop will end with a presentation of one of the subject integrated plans for a thematic section of lessons, where both methods are integrated. 

Room 2:

11:15 - 13:15 An introduction to Let's Think through Maths - thinking lessons for 11 - 13 year olds. Alan Edmiston, Let’s Think Forum, UK.


The Let's Think through Maths or CAME lessons are a sequent of 30 thinking activities designed to challenge children at the start of secondary school to think more deeply about the harder areas of mathematics. The lessons cover the main stands of: algebra, number, ratio, graphs, equations, probability and data handling. This session will introduce the programme and its background as well as illustrate the nature of the approach through lesson simulations. This will enable you to experience the activities for yourself prior to trying them with your own pupils.

13:15 - 14:00   LUNCH 

14:00 - 16:00  Talks on various aspects of developing and assessing thinking.

Room 1: 

14:00 - 14:30  A missing-link: how to shift from time-based to content-based course design. Edgars Lasevičs, SIA Kanga, Latvia.


A good teaching is based upon understanding of the scope of Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) (Biggs and Tang, 2011) which are expected to be multi-directionally aligned (Shuell, 1986; Biggs and Tang, 2011). Teaching-learning activities take place in the Content-Time-Space continuum and the ILOs are understood to exist at several successive levels: Institutional – Programme – Course – Module (Topic, Block)– Lesson – Exercise – Sub-parts as tasks. 

Can it be that our neat vision of the field of teaching-learning lacks consistency? And that this misunderstanding itself is pre-programmed in the very language we use?  The need to re-design teaching for digital platforms in spring 2020 emphasized the content-based, rather than time-based, approaches to its planning. Solutions used and the results which they generated showed quite wide gaps in understanding of the organization of the processes. In our presentation we will analize and introduce a „missing link”- an instrument which will not only allow a better understanding of a process of course-design, but also allow objective comparison of efficience of different methods and approaches. Even more topical this issue gets in circumstances in which standard forms of organization of teaching-learning process, like at schools, meets approaches which are highly demanding in terms of content, like, for example, teaching thinking.

14:30 - 15:00 Why your students know best how to learn a foreign language. Marija Dobrovolska, Deutsch Mit Marija, Germany.


In her talk + Q&A session Marija Dobrovolska, an experienced teacher of German, Edutuber with over 600 videos and over 20 million views in 4 years and owner of an online language school Deutsch mit Marija, will draw the portrait of an independent language learner who is in charge of his/her learning process using multiple tools, including problem solving strategies as from OTSM-TRIZ, applying creative thinking models and can achieve any goal as long as it’s clear and attractive enough. We live in the age of online education and nearly limitless possibilities, so it’s time to start using them. This talk will get you into your new comfort zone as a language learner or teacher.

15:00 - 15:30 Inclusive learning - "one-size" doesn't fit all. Dr. Shoshi Reiter, LeadToc, Israel.


The purpose of this study is to highlight the insights of an innovation aiming at developing an inclusive learning at school. The intervention emphasized implicit cognitive processes as central to teaching–learning processes while making sense of the interrelations in complex situations. 27 teachers were involved in the intervention program and research. Findings indicate increases in awareness, improvement in professional skills and action taken toward more inclusive culture. Results demonstrate improvement of students' self-development, social skills and academic achievements. The theoretical contribution of this study lies in the knowledge it highlights and the importance of self-esteem that involves self-observation, self-judgment, and self-response.

15:30 - 16:00  Students’ Questions as an Educational Assessment and Self-assessment Tool. Vira Danylova, Interactive Questioning Lab, Ukraine.


We propose to evaluate not the existing knowledge, but the intellectual activity of students, and this opportunity is provided by the student posing his own questions on the educational content. Two types of questions are distinguished here: questions to the text received by the students and questions coming from the students' own experience. The analysis of the questions makes it possible to evaluate how much students are able to transfer the knowledge gained in previous training to new material, how much they take into account the specifics of the new topic, what preliminary knowledge about it they turn to, what exactly interests them.  The most interesting is a comparison of the questions that students ask at the beginning of work on a certain topic with those that they can ask when this work is close to completion. We suggest that the development of students' thinking may be indicated by the deepening of questions.

Room 2: 

14:00 - 14:30  Informal learning and student’s life experience as a resource for students’ cognitive skills development. Victor Abashev & Maria Raczynska, Kruzhok movement, Russia

Abashev  Raczynska

Victor Abashev and Maria Raczynska will present an approach that used in informal learning programs for students in Kruzhok movement of National Technology Initiative of Russia to empower students, to develop student’s agency and to raise student’s cognitive and metacognitive skills. Kruzhok movenent is an ecosystem of children-adult communities where technology enthusiasts alongside professionals develop the state-of-art technologies and apply them to the practical unsolved problems. This movement also provides students with opportunities to participate in informal learning short-term and long-term programs. That programs are based on three key ideas – student agency, technology and community. Students collaboratively work to find solution on the real-life problem, contact with industry experts and reflect on their experience.  Maria Raczynska will present an organizational frame of that program, it’s values, goals and KPIs. Victor Abashev will present steps and technologies that are used to empower students, to develop their metacognitive skills and to develop student’s agency.


14:30 - 16:00 Transformation to become a high reliability, personalized competency-based school. Experience of Khoroshkola, Moscow. Dr. Elena Bulin-Sokolova, Victor Abashev, Anna Kigay, Center of personalized learning development, Russia.

Bulin Sokolova  Abashev  kigay   

Since 2018 in Khoroshkola, Moscow, started an experiment to implement PCBL (personalized competency-based learning) in school. Now it grows into a national-wide experiment of implementing PCBL and digital platform in Russian schools lead by Sberbank. Key value of that model is to make students aware of their learning and to make them drive their own learning in classroom level, in school level. School transformation consisted of several important steps: changing school culture, making students independent, developing students agency, describing results in terms of levels of performance instead of grades, developing students metacognitive skills to help them plan, make goals and drive their learning. We met a lot of difficulties in implementing PCBL. And now share our experience to support other Russian schools in their transformation. We would be happy to share our technics, findings and our experience in helping students own their learning.


16:00 - 16:30   Reflection and closing

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