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Encourage reflective thought and action

This aspect of effective pedagogy is underpinned by the learning to learn principle found in The New Zealand Curriculum. It supports development of the key competencies thinking and managing self.

Reflective thought and action is promoted by:

  • modelling evidence-based argumentation
  • getting students to evaluate different techniques and strategies
  • getting students to justify, compare, and contrast solutions to problems
  • probing student thinking on socio-scientific issues
  • allowing for individual thinking time, especially when checking understanding of concepts
  • requiring students to give specific, detailed (rather than general) responses
  • supporting the use of graphic organisers and reflective tools.

Promote thinking about thinking

By teaching their students how to think about their own thinking (that is, to engage in metacognition), teachers encourage them to become independent, self-regulating learners.

Students learn most effectively when they can stand back from new content and ideas and think reflectively about their significance in the wider scheme of things.

How might I do this?

Use of a range of activities and strategies, such as:

  • a three-level reading guide
  • question starters:
    • What do you notice (in/about/when) …?
    • What is the same/different in …?
    • What makes you think that?
    • How would you approach the problem?
    • What are the main steps in this technique?
    • How could you simplify this issue for a child?
    • What is another way of …?
    • What are the pluses and minuses of these alternatives?
    • What would you think if …?
    • Why do you think this is happening?
    • How would you define …?
    • What conclusions can you draw from …?
    • Why do you agree/disagree with …?
    • How might you explain …?
    • What patterns can you find?
    • If you were going to guess, what …?
    • Why do you think this teaching strategy was used?
    • How did this strategy help you to learn?
  • teaching the value and use of strategies such as mind maps, key ideas, and summaries.

Provide opportunities to assimilate new learning

Reflective learners assimilate new learning, relate it to what they already know, adapt it for their own purposes, and translate it into action.

How might I do this?

Provide activities that require students to apply new learning in other situations. For example:

  • 3—2—1: '3 facts I can recall; 2 ideas I am thinking about; 1 question I have'. Students watch a video clip, complete the 3—2—1 activity, share their responses with a group of four students, and discuss possible answers to their questions.
  • question starters (or question dice) to develop student questioning and learning.

Develop critical thinking

Have a long-term focus on developing students’ creativity, critical thinking skills, and metacognitive ability.

How might I do this?

Use critical thinking/metacognition frameworks, for example, the argumentation resource in the Genetic Modification Kit.

See also Science Is.

Design and use tasks that require self/peer assessment

Design tasks and opportunities that require students to critically evaluate the material they use and to think about the purposes for which it was created.

How might I do this?

Provide clear criteria and exemplars, and tasks linked to self-assessment resources, for example:

What this might look like

  • With the help of a computer presentation, students explain to their peers their proposed solution for controlling a disease in workers on dairy farms.
  • When explaining their proposed solution to a problem relating to refuse disposal in a rural community, students reflect on their own learning and how they arrived at their proposal.
  • Using a mind map template, students identify the key aspects of the topic: Increasing carbon dioxide levels and their impact on New Zealand’s climate.
  • At the end of a class, students write down:
    • (i) ideas they are clear on
    • (ii) ideas they are still grasping
    • (iii) ideas that totally confuse them. They do this in a journal or, alternatively, on slips of A5 paper ('exit slips' that they hand in as they leave (to be used to guide teacher planning).

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Last updated May 9, 2016