Over the last two days, I spent some time in Grade 1 and walked away with a strong sense of the importance of these two principles of the “Cultures of Thinking Project”.
- In Monwei’s classroom, I really did get the feeling that the “classroom is a curriculum in itself” (I love that idea!). Students clearly feel very relaxed and at home in their classroom. But, beyond that, there is also a very strong and palpable sense that it is a place of purposeful learning. Students move thoughtfully and carefully around the room and preserve a sense of calm. Students have a variety of options available to them so they can make independent decisions about their learning – in my time in her classroom, I was not asked “what do I do next?” once, and neither did I hear that dreaded line… “I’m done, now what do I do?”. Students who had completed the tasks Monwei and I were working on with them just simply moved on to something else.
- Robert, Ms. Ha and I began to make thinking visible as the students collected their knowledge about the food they eat. We interviewed the students as they were working and tried to find out how far their knowledge went tin terms of where food comes from, how it gets to us and where it (and its packaging) goes when we are finished with it. All of the student’s knowledge and thinking went on to the wall as we were working, showing the students that their thoughts are valuable and also making sure we, the teachers, are able to refer to it so we can figure out where to take them next.
These two principles are incredibly important and powerful. Students need to be immersed in a culture of learning, and they also need to be immersed in their own thinking.