Links: handling ideas

"How can I promote lively, methodical thinking?"

Ideally, the skilful English B student can do both 'lively' and 'methodical'. These are over-lapping skills but they are not quite the same. Consider :-

'lively' = agile, questioning, creative & imaginative, provocative, responsive ...

'methodical' = systematic, careful, thorough, lucid, considerate of audience, coherent ...


"How can I stimulate lively thinking?"

** Many of the texts throughout the site should stimulate lively, creative and imaginative reactions, as should some of the internet sites suggested, but the main section where practical techniques for developing these qualities are grouped is :-

> Task Types ... tasks specifically targeted at modes of thinking


First impressions

How does one get to grips with a whole new area?

> Collect and/or study a field of ideas

> Using fields provides a summary overview of various ways to use unstructured groups of words or ideas as a starting point

> Quote-field to Sentence Frame ... students are given a field of statements - then have to combine the statements in pairs according to a sentence pattern (in this case "IF.....THEN....) ... ways of exploring ideas about a topic + practise grammar at the same time ...

> Categorizing ideas ... the page Why Men Don't Iron requires students to sort a number of (intriguing) statements into groupings by general subject (in this case, the chapter of the source book) ... then pick out various which have caught their attention for various reasons (e.g. most agreed, or least convincing)

> Quote field for creative exploration ... in the page Handling metaphors , starting with a metaphor, the Money exercise asks students to invent connections between various ways of seeing money .

> Quote field for literature ... reading 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime', the class is given a collection of quotations centred on Metaphors & Lies ... students have to discover, or invent, connections between the various passages ...

> Quote field for vocabulary expansion ... tasks, handout and a projection in the page Vocabulary & concepts are all focused on sorting out a field of complex vocabulary (in this case, command terms used in science) by asking students to sort them out in different patterns according to meaning

> Investigating objects ... the page TEA provides an example of how much cultural information one can extract from simply studying a packet of tea ... suggests a model for seeing cultural influences in everyday objects and situations

> SCAN procedure ... looking at different aspects of a word, a text, or an idea can be a useful opening gambit for developing informed discussion

Exploring the area

How can we develop ideas methodically and in detail?

Guided thinking ... the cloze diagram exercise provides part of a developed and structured argument, which the students have to complete by filling in the gaps. See ...

> Twitter Pro & Con , and especially the handouts

Methodical analysis ... studying a source or a topic area in a thorough and disciplined way

> Practising summary ... the exercise Eliminating Bullshit involves students re-writing over-written, increasingly convoluted sentences in as few words as possible ... re-write individually, then discussion of which version is the shortest AND the most accurate ... can arouse lively competition ... reinforces the idea of careful expression ...

> Understanding a complex text ... a more challenging companion lesson to the Eliminating Bullshit activity, the Whorf Summary is intended to give students confidence when faced with a 'frighteningly difficult' text ... and some sense of the method by which we extract meaning ... handout with task, and models of how to analyse ...

> The IB Threat ... applies the 'UPA Tool' (Understand - Probe - Assess) to a controversy about the IB's validity in the US ... several source texts explored using this tool ...

Critical thinking frame ... methodical consideration of all sides of an issue

> Impact of computers ... the worksheet provides specific tasks to consider counter-arguments and extensions / alternative views

> Declaration of Independence ​ ... worksheet invites critical questioning of the assertions of the Declaration

Rank order ... asking students to put ideas / concepts / opinions in rank order requires them to think through and explain in detail value judgements that they may have made rapidly and 'instinctively' - thus reviewing and developing what they really think. See ...

> Rank order ... has three exercises of this procedure (about Sin, and the Learner Profile!)

> Why Men Don't Iron ... moves from a summary-type exercise to a rank-order task

> Ranking the Learner Profile ... the Rank Order exercise dealing with the IB Learner Profile involves putting the ten key words into rank orders according to different criteria ... a group exercise which draws on students' own direct experience - everybody should have something to say ...

Using questions ... asking well-focused questions is an excellent way of generating new ideas

> Question frames ... introducing types of questions, and how they can be linked together

> Question games ... activities to practice forming and asking questions

> Writing a questionaire, which can lead on to ... devising Texthandling questions

Chains of consequences

> Practising methodical speculation ... students have to develop chains of clearly-explained consequences

> Realistic Chains and Fantasy Chains ...  

Using metaphors -metaphors are based on similarities and connections between concepts ... so, playing with metaphors, and practising how to think them through can help generate new ideas

> Brainstorming metaphors, structured ... Unfolding metaphors involves looking at a phrase, exploring what it implies through associations - and then deliberately seeking alternatives

> Combining metaphor & quotefield ... the Money exercise starts with exploring a metaphorical phrase ('Money makes the world go round') ... seeks imaginative alternative metaphors ... then provides a quote field to examine more abstract statements about money ... about combining literal thinking and metaphorical thinking ...

Using group dynamics

How can we draw out the stimulating range of ideas available in a group ?

Organisation of groups

> Improving the quality of class discussion ... the Panel of Experts technique is a way of making class discussions better informed - through a clear division of responsibilities ... focuses research, dividing class into 'experts' and 'interviewers' ... useful technique for Interactive Oral Activity assessments ...

> The Panel Debate ... an alternative to the standard Pro/Con formal debate, which allows for, and encourages, interaction which is more lively ... transferable formula, which can be applied to any topic ...

> Organising interaction ... a review of Interactive Oral Activity Frameworks looks at the pros and cons of different ways of organising groups ... relevant to classwork throughout the course, but with particular emphasis on Interaction as part of Internal Assessment ... importance of recognised procedures like the 'Socratic Seminars' idea ...

> Making a questionnaire ... basis for an extended project which might require several classes and homeworks ... get students to suggest a topic area that interests them - and about which they want to know more ... discussion of priorities, especially precise focus ... writing of concise questions practises precision in phrasing (and the grammar of questions) ... excellent for group work - clear task + clear, checkable results

> Practising accurate communication ... the ancient game of Chinese Whispers - where a sentence is whispered from person to person, and usually mutates in the process - is adapted in Encoding & decoding to illustrate the TOK point that language is an imprecise medium ...

Tasks for groups

> Ranking the Learner Profile ... the Rank Order exercise (in the page Rank order )dealing with the IB Learner Profile involves putting the ten key words into rank orders according to different criteria ... a group exercise which draws on students' own direct experience - everybody should have something to say ...

> Looking at texts in groups ... the procedure Studying a text-field (see, for example, the page Youth unemployment ) is a simple process of dividing a number of texts better groups, then requiring considered feedback ... ideally, this enables more texts to be covered, in more depth ... it also promotes skills of presentation and expression, since there will be information gaps between the groups ... the example concerns Youth Unemployment ...

> Researching alternative history via the internet ... the project Easternised World? in the page Rewriting the past , exercising the Third Conditional, provides a framework for small group work ... Panel of Experts (see below) approach recommended ... range of interesting internet sites provided ...

> Giving Instructions .... class has to give instructions: in this case, of how to make a paper plane. Teaches methodical approach based on analysing steps of a process. The basic procedure can be adapted to any basic task - alternatives are suggested.

> Step by step Explanation ... students have to develop, in groups or individually, complicated excuses for why they have not been able to hand in a piece of work ... the basic principle of the several exercises suggested could be adapted to other tasks, such as Narrative ... could be a useful basis for group-work, discussing any cause-and-effect situation ...

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"How can I promote methodical thinking?"

** Once students have generated and developed a range of ideas, they need to think about how to communicate them to other people, whether in speech or in writing. As usual, suggestions for handlng this task occur in many parts of the site, but particularly in :-

> Paper 2 Writing ... look specifically at the various text-types explored

> Writing Skills ... general practical approaches

> Orals: Advice to students ... advice directed towards the Individual Interview, but applicable to any presentation


A fundamental thinking procedure

a methodical, disciplined approach to creating writing or oral presentations

> NET SIEVE SPINE ... primary technique for planning (either for writing, or for oral presentation) ... useful way to focus whole-class brainstorming: gather ideas, develop (together or, probably, in small groups), then discuss sequencing ...

Use of writing frames

standard forms which can, and should, be adapted to specific tasks and content

Writing frames ... discussion of the basic principle ... helpful approaches (and unhelpful ones, too) ... a series of basic frames for organising essays, in order to illustrate

> Developing a writing frame ... for Science Practicals ... worksheet guiding discussion about checklists of details to include ... draws on the fact that students will be doing different sciences as part of their Diploma ... addresses the issue of English B support for the Language of Instruction ... should revise / expand general scientific language ...

Approaching specific tasks

recommendations for handling particular tasks which involve particular modes of thinking

> Using Personal Response skills ... Handling the PR is a page which provides various ways of generating ideas for the HL Paper 2 Section B ... these are applicable to generating ideas about any source text ... such as 'Asking questions sceptically' and 'demanding more information' - general-purpose good thinking, really ...

> Writing an online questionnaire ... look at About SurveyMonkey which is an introduction to a very useful internet site which supplies do-it-yourself questionnaires ... discussion of options available, and how best to use them ... provides good professional finish to the Writing a Questionnaire activity ...

To be continued ...


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