Developing Thinking and Assessment for Learning
Ysgol Griffith Jones was invited by DECELLS in 2009 to be part of the Welsh programme. This compounded the school being known as a ‘Thinking School’ following other initiatives such as Dewch i Feddwl and CAME programmes.Developing thinking and assessment for learning programme was set up in 2005 by DECELLS (Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills) The programme focused on the development, implementation and dissemination of good practice in the teaching of developing thinking and assessment for learning strategies.
The main aims of the programme were to:
- improve pupil performance
- increase engagement with learning
- change classroom practice, thereby improving pedagogy
- increase the frequency of creative lessons.
The whole process of developing thinking can be viewed as a cycle so that learning from reflection can be fed back into the next task.
Developing thinking – learner’s Cycle
It should be noted that thinking about thinking (metacognition) is at the heart of all learning; learners need to ‘unpack their thinking’ in order to appreciate the strategies they have used to learn, to assimilate the learning that has taken place and to link the learning to a new context. It is the vital ingredient which makes the learning approach spiral.
In order to implement the thinking principles logically, at Ysgol Griffith Jones we use a variety of thinking strategies and thinking tools. Ongoing tools are:
- 2 stars and a wish
- Question tree
- Hot seating
Strategies include e.g increasing thinking time, no hands up. Various tools include e.g concept cartoons, fortune lines, KWL charts, living graphs and diamond ranking
Developing assessment for learning principles can be categorised into three main areas:- Questioning, Feedback, Peer and self assessment. Again a variety of tools are used during assessing.
The benefits of the programme can be seen in the pupils becoming engaged learners, making their learning/thinking more active and providing opportunities for reflection, therefore making them independent learners. Learners at Ysgol Griffith Jones are more self assured when forming their opinions, better communicators and all around confident individuals.
Read Write Inc.
The school, in collaboration with the LA and local Secondary Schools are following a new initiative aimed at improving standards in reading and writing. In the scheme, namely Read, Write, Inc, pupils are taught, systematically, the synthetic phonics of the English language, following a structured programme.
Pupils are placed in groups, according to their reading ability, and move through the programme at a pace which suits them. The reading, writing and spelling skills of fluent readers are extended with more challenging tasks suited to their needs.