How do we create a "thinking" classroom?
Submitted by Susan Finn Miller on December 6, 2017 - 4:41pm
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Hello colleagues, Peter Liljedahl, upon visiting an 8th grade math class, concluded that the students in the class were NOT engaged in thinking! These students had been given a complex problem to solve (e.g., this "Lewis Carroll problem ... If 6 cats can kill 6 rats in 6 minutes, how many will be needed to kill 100 rats in 50 minutes?). Most of the students were unable to solve the problem and were eager to give up.
In a recent blog, Building a Thinking Classroom in Math, Liljedahl reports on his experience:
"Once I realized this, I proceeded to visit 40 other mathematics classes in a number of schools. In each class, I saw the same thing—an assumption, implicit in the teaching, that the students either could not or would not think. Under such conditions it was unreasonable to expect that students were going to be able to spontaneously engage in problem solving."
Liljedahl offers interesting steps toward creating a thinking math classroom. He has designed a fairly complex process to support students' to engage in problem solving. As part of the process, he recommends that students work together in small groups at "vertical, non-permanent spaces such as white boards." And teachers should only answer questions that support students to "keep thinking" -- no "stop thinking" questions such as "Is this right?" or "Will this be on the test?".
What is your reaction to these ideas? Could you see this process relating to other content areas? What do you see as essential to creating a "thinking" classroom?
Cheers, Susan Finn Miller
Moderator, Thinking & Learning CoP