Tuesday 19 January 2016

(20) 16 ways to use the Thinking Kit

(20)16 ways to use the Thinking Kit
The new year is in full swing. Teachers across the world are back to work, sharing thoughts, ideas and resources...ready for what 2016 may bring.

With this in mind, we thought when better than to share 16 ways to use the Thinking Kit. Using the Thinking Kit Creator (currently free), educational activities can be created on any browser. The user saves the activity, gets a code, then uses that code in the Thinking Kit App (free) to download the activity onto iPads (or get students to). This teams two really strong themes together - learning using iPads AND digital content creation, whether by teachers or the learners themselves.

Activities involve one main goal/objective/question and snippets of information or images to help learners complete/answer it.

The Thinking Kit App can be used individually, but works brilliantly as a group activity too. It seamlessly allows for multi-touch and engages learners in face to face collaboration as they learn. There is a dedicated Reflection Stage and lots of tools to help them become better problem solvers, critical thinkers and team players.

So, without further ado, let’s get started…

  1. Simple grouping tasks - add lots of images, pieces of text or both then get learners to sort them accordingly. Get students to use the ‘group tool’ to give groups a name and sort the snippets into them.

    E.g. Lots of images of animals and facts on vertebrate and invertebrate - students must then create mini groups, e.g. ‘mammals’ and drag and drop the relevant snippets into them.

  2. Reading - break up a large topic into lots of digestible snippets which students can read together to answer an intriguing question about the topic.

    E.g. Introduce your class to a piece of literature by giving them key points of the book before they read the full text. Or do this afterwards as a reflection activity.

  3. Ordering task - Get learners to sort the snippets/images into some kind of order, whether that’s chronological, size or even relevance.

    E.g. For history, add key moments in time and get students to arrange them correctly.

  4. Custom background - Add a map or image and get students to move the slips into the correct space

    E.g. Use a map as the background and have students put countries in the correct place on it, or have a human body as the background and get learners to place the names of bones in the correct place.

  5. Problem solving - Have an engaging story based problem accompanied by an open question to answer.

    E.g. A maths murder mystery - learners must piece together elements of the story and clues, do the maths involved and put forward an argument as to who could have been the killer.

  6. Questions and answers - Add 10 question slips and 10 answer slips then get students to match them up. To make it a bit harder, don’t answer some of the questions - they can add them with the Note Tool.

    E.g. A more ‘fact-based’ subject would go well with this, perhaps scientific reactions or checking understanding of storylines in a book.

  7. Quickly create an activity on breaking news - The Thinking Kit Creator is ideal for getting something together for the following day (or same day) if a sudden or unexpected event occurs which you want to address with students.

    E.g. There may have been a natural disaster or a world crisis. Educators could use the current high awareness of it to create an activity and get students to understand it better/share their views.

  8. Learners on a school trip - With access to a camera, smartphone or tablet, students could take these devices on a trip and record their own evidence. They can then create a Thinking Kit activity and use their own images and notes to work on it themselves or as an activity for other groups.

    E.g. An example is ‘Does Warkworth need a bypass?’ Students would go there, take pictures of the place, record some local statistics and possibly ask some locals’ opinions.

  1. SOLE session review - If you haven’t heard, SOLEs are “created when educators and/or parents encourage kids to work in groups that they form, and are free to change, to answer big, open questions by using the internet” (SOLE toolkit). The origins lie in Professor Sugata Mitra’s Ted-Prize winning talk here. For more information go to School in the Cloud. Give students a big question and carry on a SOLE session as usual. Following their research, the groups could make a Thinking Kit activity with what they have discovered. They could then ‘do’ the activity at a later date or get their fellow students to!

    E.g. In the Greenfield Arts’ session, they used the question ‘What makes us human?’ Before/after the class discussion they had, to answer this question, groups could use their gathered information/views to create activities for each other.

  2. Encourage discussion on difficult issues - An activity can be created on a more sensitive issue in a ‘different’ way to the norm. The snippets could include different points of view, facts and engaging images. Working through these in small groups will be less intimidating than as a whole class, it will be easier/less daunting for students to speak up and those at the end who feel more confident, can then engage in a whole class discussion.

    E.g. Topics such as bullying or sex education can be broken down and discussed as small groups as an introduction. A ‘scenario’ can be given through a Thinking Kit activity and students can begin to understand ‘taboo’ subjects through relatable stories and even ‘give advice’ to the characters in them.

  3. Work on different strands of the same topic - Split the class into groups of three, then give each group a different strand of topic to research. They then create an activity themselves to share this with other groups, so they learn through each other.

    E.g. The topic may be key figures in history - each group focuses on one, creates a Thinking Kit activity, and gives the code to another group for them to learn about a different strand to what they created theirs on.

  4. Ice breaker activity - Thinking Kit could be used to help students get to know each other better, whether that’s because they have just met (new class) or they have had a long break. Students could create an activity about themselves for others to use or get into pairs, then their partner creates one about what they have discussed.

  1. Revision - Educators could create an activity for students to ‘do’ when early on in the teaching of a topic. They could do it upon completion of teaching of that topic, then again a few weeks later to see how much they have remembered. Alternatively, students could create one on their own. Understanding, interpreting and then reiterating points in their own words can be great for retention of information. When they do this a few weeks later then again nearer an exam, the information will be more likely to soak in.

  2. Record of learning - Use the ‘reports’ feature of the Thinking Kit App to review how students have done in a particular task. Students can print or email these reports too, which include the list of content of an activity, screenshots of the process of doing an activity and anything they have added, e.g. named groups or notes.

  3. Whole class discussion - When students have completed a session on the Thinking Kit App, one (or more) group’s session can be played to the whole class as a point of discussion. Using this dedicated Reflection Stage on a projector for example, can open up the class to share their views and get into a debate.

  1. Differentiation - If learners are at different levels of their understanding of a topic, or you would rather lightly ease some groups in, you can create different versions of the same activity. Just get the core of information in, save it, add more things (whether they are images/information to make the task easier… or more complex things being added to broaden the activity) then click ‘Save As’.

We hope these have been interesting to read through and that you enjoy creating your own activities or getting students to themselves.

Thinking Kit is out now. The Thinking Kit App is always free, and the Thinking Kit Creator has a completely free 30 day trial. All you need is your email address and your name! Register at www.thinking-kit.com/signin. No other details are required to sign up.

It's fascinating for us to hear about all the ways Thinking Kit is being used. Let us know how you've used Thinking Kit by emailing info@reflectivethinking.com.

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