Learning and teaching: promoting thinking and understanding

At the heart of a Woodleigh Education is our commitment to the holistic development of every student. We strive to develop learning experiences and tasks that support students to develop understandings, skills, and dispositions that they will need to thrive at and beyond school. While our current remote learning context means we don't utilise our learning environments the way we usually. The learning experiences created by our teachers are still designed to build and promote understandings, skills, and dispositions for learning in a way that connects to the world outside of school.

Tasks designed to develop understandings, skills & dispositions focus on thinking, approaches to, and attitudes towards learning instead of recalling information and answering questions correctly. Teachers plan learning experiences that will elicit and quick thinking as well as reveal prior knowledge, which is used to inform the next steps. 

The Project Zero team from Harvard Graduate School of Education outlines eight ways that we can build understanding: Observing closely & describing what's there; wondering & asking questions; making connections; considering different viewpoints; building explanations and interpretations; reasoning with evidence; uncovering complexity & going deeper; capturing the heart & forming conclusions. 

Teachers incorporate these strategies into tasks in different ways, depending on the purpose. For example, when completing maths tasks, teachers will often ask students to explain or draw their thinking and find more than one possibility, as a way to uncover complexity and build explanations. To encourage students to observe, describe what's there & ask questions, teachers may provide students with an image or clip and ask them to record what they see, what they think and what they wonder. Experiences such as these are designed to elicit multiple responses and provide insight into current thinking and curiosities.

Each week during the Continuous Learning Plan, classroom teachers provide an overview of the key ideas and thinking that learning will focus on in the week via their weekly summary. This can be a prompt to guide the questions and discussions you might have with your child about their learning while at home.

The following images from the Harvard Graduate School of Education show that Project Zero provides ideas for questions and strategies that you can use at home to guide thinking and learning.

Head of Learning – PYP