At the very beginning of our Nordplus Project I was very unsure as to how to start introducing thinking into my classes. Our workshop in Riga in September introduced us to the Thinking Task Framework and made it clearer that using this could help us a lot.

I then started using some TA with all my classes, but sporadically, really just testing out how the TTF works, how pupils react and trying to work out how I can adapt this to fit my course books.

CLASS 3     The Yes/No game with numbers, sorting tasks with basic vocabulary, and in the spring, a series of tasks on Describing a Person, Describing families and people. ENV. The series of tasks  was my first  real attempt to go round the Thinking Task Framework and I was amazed at how well my pupils responded it, even with the limited English they had. We used ENV, though I didn’t give it a name or talk explicitly about thinking. I was attempting to adapt the course book to thinking.

CLASS 4     The Yes /No game with classroom objects, Yes / No Game and ENV,  (many times – they really developed) and a series of lessons based on selling clothes at a flea market, Clothes and Selling. These worked reasonably well, but I got very confused trying to use ENV and we ran out of time.

CLASS 5     Describing a Person (a grandparent), English Class 5 ENV and Describing a Country,Describing a country. These were both attempts at adapting themes and tasks from the course book to make them more thinking. They worked quite well and both the children and I found them interesting, but I don’t know if they helped the pupils to get any better at thinking at all, and as always, time was short. Although time during the lessons passed very quickly and the pupils were very engaged, I wasn’t sure how well some of the poorer pupils were keeping up.

CLASS 6    The Password Game was useful, but was all we had time for (or all I thought I had time for).


-          I'm very motivated to do more of this and am impressed at what can be achieved. However, I still don’t see that I’m a ‘TA Teacher’, for various reasons:

-          I don’t know how to change the pupils’ attitude to their own work and learning

-          I don’t have an overall working system which includes TA regularly

-          I still haven’t used TA at all in grammar or speaking activities

-          I’d love to use self-study with them, but don’t know where to start.

The Finnish teacher and I planned some lessons together for the 6th class to do with books and films, Books and Films, Matilda and Holes, English and Finnish, in the mother-tongue class and I can see that class discussions there can be very interesting and useful. However, I’ve got beginner English pupils, so I have to adapt how we use TA and how we ‘discuss’, using English, accordingly.


-          I myself have to understand the basic thinking skills the pupils would need to begin understanding for example, ENV, and work gradually with these through English from Grade 3 on.

-          In future I have to pay much more attention to the following:

aims, suitable contexts, encouraging certain behaviour, talking about learning and thinking, finding my own ‘thinking’ voice and understanding the system better, self-study.

-          Longer term I think I’d have to work without a book to make this work well – I’m finding it very hard to keep to the book and do TA tasks, though it does seem to be possible up to a point.  I have to give the pupils more say, and bring in parents too.




# Alexander Sokol 2012-10-23 15:06
Thanks for sharing, Susan. When you are thinking back about your experience with the TA, would you recommend more or less the same path to a new teacher who is just starting? Or are there things you'd have done differently from your present vision? If so, which ones? I am just thinking about someone who's read your reflection and is thinking of trying something.
# Susan Granlund 2012-10-23 22:00
This is a good question and I'll have to think about it.

In retrospect, games like Yes/No on numbers and with classroom objects were a good way for me to see how changing the nature of tasks could make such a difference to student interest, to the atmosphere in the classroom and to what they could achieve linguistically. I understood very quickly that I'd been underestimating what I could do with them and what they were capable of. However, time always seems to be an issue, so I think it would be good to start adapting the tasks you have to do anyway.

I think I could have started adapting 'smaller scale' at first to get myself and the pupils used to a new system more gradually, and perhaps with one class only.(I was jus so keen to see how the different classes would respond to these kinds of tasks, and of course seeing that was very useful.) This is what I'm working on at the moment - how to start...and with which class, classes? Maybe I could post a reflection on this when I've sorted it out in my own mind a bit.
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