During my second year of trying to integrate TA into my English classes (2011-2012) the input I received as a teacher throught our project was invaluable. I've been reflecting on what issues regarding TA and the teaching of it became clearer to me.

September meeting in Riga – work on the Thinking Task Framework, especially on Step 1, Step 1 tutorial, helped me to understand the overall picture of what we’re doing better, especially about how to make thinking aims,  and how to make suitable challenges, How can I make a task more challenging?. I had no idea before what thinking aims might be (I was guessing!), and it was extremely useful to find a method whereby they could become more specific and useful,Aims: an overview. I also felt closer to understanding what an algorithm might look like and why it’s so important.

October saw Kirsi and I helping with a workshop at a language teachers’ conference in Turku and in December we attended TA open lessons in Bergen. It was very useful to see how TA can be successfully applied in other subjects, in this case Art and Chemistry and to see how enthusiastic the pupils were. On top of these we had the Vilnius workshop in February where it was a great help to discuss the steps and talk about our diary entries together. Considering self-study with Irina and looking at thinking dispositions, skills and evaluation with Gillian all helped me to move forward a little step at a time in my overall understanding.

March. The cream on the cake was the open lessons in Riga and Daugavpils where TA is really being integrated fully into language lessons. I was very impressed by what Renata was doing in Riga and it especially gave me food for thought as regards evaluating work.  It was amazing to see what Irina’s pupils could do and how interested and interesting they were. I’m especially interested in what she’s doing with texts and point of view tasks. I haven’t yet got a hold of how to tackle grammar through TA, but I’m working on it. Seeing classroom procedures and examples of student algorithms and banks greatly helped me to see how learning could be organised.

Through all this input I realised how very important it has been to be able to discuss what I’m doing with other people, get feedback,  see what they’re doing, and learn more about TA, both theory and practice. It would be extremely difficult to do this alone.


# Alexander Sokol 2012-10-23 15:12
Susan, I am thinking about helping a wider community of teachers to benefit from the experience you've had in the project. I understand that a face-to-face experience is always different, but if we think about all those moments you are referring to, what kind of video input could be useful for novice TA teachers? Let's think both about your workshop and open lesson experience. Any suggestions of what we could make available as a video?
# Susan Granlund 2012-10-23 22:18
From the workshops I think it could be very useful to see someone giving an explanation of the Thinking Task Framework with diagrams, and maybe people asking good questions. There could even be a video for each step, and one of teachers discussing what they found difficult and how they resolved some of the problems associated with understanding parts of the framework - maybe even individuals briefly explaining their own experience?

Another idea might be to have two people looking at a course book, as Irina and Edgar did with me, showing a chapter, and making suggestions as to how it could be adapted to be more thinking. This could be planned to be done as simply as possible, with quick 'notes' at the end to show the suggestions clearly. This helped me a lot anyway. It could maybe be done with different subjects.

For the open lessons, it was good to know beforehand the teacher's aims and what had come in lessons before, then it would be good to see the giving of the challenge, to see how the pupils work / respond, and to see how the teacher guides them, and to see the end of the lesson. After that it might be good to have short comments by the teacher on the lesson and maybe someone else's comments and / or suggestions too.
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