Let's Think on Twitter

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Two years back Michael Walsh (Let’s Think English author) was kind enough to set up our Twitter account and what a wise move that has proved to be. Every day I try to keep track of all things Let’s Think on Twitter and regularly some real gems can be found.

If you follow the link below you can gain an insight into how Luke Rolls has been using Let’s Think maths to support the learning of his pupils.


We have also had the following from Karen Gallagher of Saint Cuthbert Mayne School. She recently took the bold step of teaching a Let’s Think English lesson during an inspection last term. I think you will agree that her instinct to do this was more than rewarded. Time and time again we come across the same reaction from those working on the chalk face – now that what I call professional development!

Using Let’s Think during OFSTED.

We had the call! OFSTED were coming!  I had a thinking lesson planned- but should I risk something so new when OFSTED could pay me a visit? What would they think?

I asked my colleagues for advice, but since they hadn’t been involved in my Let’s Think training, their general response was for me to do what I felt comfortable with.  My gut feeling told me I had a good lesson- so, ‘let’s do it’, I resolved. When constructing my timetable for OFSTED to see what I would be teaching over the course of their visit, I made a direct reference to the English lesson being a Thinking lesson. Therefore, it was evident for anyone who was interested to come and find out what we would be up to.

Of all the Let’s Think lessons, I’d been introduced to, the most poignant and meaningful one was one based on The Terrible Things by Eve Bunting. I knew my Year Six class would be interested in the subject matter as we had recently looked at Anne Frank when exploring auto-biographies. It was also anti-bullying week, so the cross curricular links would work perfectly. Finally, my more able students would, I was sure, rise to the allegory challenge- they like a good mystery to solve. It would make them really search the text to formulate their opinions – an area all the something the children needed to develop for their reading lessons.

Looking through the power point I’d been given on my training, I chose to adapt it so that some more challenging questions were obvious for the more able in the class (I knew this was an issue OFSTED were looking at) plus I wanted to be sure if my mind went blank; my power point would trigger my memory and aide the flow of the lesson. It would also help the children to remain focused on the specific questions for debate at each stage of the lesson. In actual fact, knowing how organised my power point and resources were gave me more confidence to teach with a certainty of my subject knowledge, which in turn gave the children more confidence with their deliberations and responses.

I began, as with every thinking lesson, with a reminder of the rules for thinking lessons:

  • every opinion is valued
  • we need to have evidence from the text to back up our opinions
  •  I as the teacher, was not allowed to lead their thinking by saying things like- “that’s a good point”, instead I can only challenge further with “what makes you think that?” and “why?”
  • Finally, the golden rule is that we all listen to each other. We can show we are listening by referring back to each other’s points of view- this shows respect.

As the lesson, progressed with the children taking turns and then discussing who was most to blame for the selection and disappearance of the animals on the story- the children maintained the thinking rules; all children were on task; focused and above all challenged in their thinking: Who were the terrible things? Who was most to blame?

The lesson flowed beautifully; so much so I didn’t notice our visitor pop into the room. It wasn’t a formal observation as such, more of a Learning Walk. The point at which she arrived, the children were using the resource cards- positioning who they thought was most to least to blame. Each group of children scoured the text, and discussed the points in earnest. The children fed back their opinions to the whole class, listening and responding to each other’s opinions. It was interesting to see that many of quiet children, usually reluctant to volunteer their opinions, lost some their inhibitions and shared their thoughts- some of which were quite profound. Our visitor didn’t stay for long, but seemed pleased with what she saw.

One girl said, the situation reminded her of how in the playground, some children pretend they don’t notice other children feeling sad or excluded, whilst another girl thought the white rabbits reminded her of some people who think they are better than everyone else, yet when they are threatened they blame everyone else for their troubles.

My reasoning for these shyer children making their voice heard, is that the rules of the thinking lesson gives them confidence in knowing their opinions will be listened to; are valued and more importantly for them; there is no right or wrong answer. This for me is the key reason why I want to pursue the thinking lessons, so that all children are included regardless of their levels of confidence, background and ability. Developing their thinking skills, develops the child which develops the person to become a more rounded, more aware, and more inclusive human being.

The bridging task was lapped up, the children wanted an opportunity to put their opinions in a written form and it would remind OFSTED that as well as a Thinking lesson, it was also very much an English lesson. There was a clear literacy link to AF7- to find messages and themes in texts and their bridging activity was to choose one of the two questions I put on the board – who was the most or least to blame and what was the message to explore address using PEE (point, evidence and explanation).  An extension challenge was for the children to write an allegory of their own.  The children challenged themselves and were 100% focused on their chosen tasks.

All in all, the student teacher I had working with me felt it was a powerful and poignant lesson, with good pace and challenge for the more able and OFSTED should have stayed to see more of it.

My confidence in the subject matter impacted on my delivery; the children were challenged with the mystery and with the freedom of developing their opinions, knowing they wouldn’t be judged for them, yet with the expectation to have evidence to back up their opinion- a vital skill for them in progressing as readers of literature. They also had the freedom to change their minds; this wouldn’t mean they had been wrong but ‘simply growing in thought’.

Would I teach a thinking lesson again for OFSTED? Definitely.