Have you ever wondered what a moment means? I’ve heard many different answers from the students. Anywhere from three seconds to a minute. There is always a bright spark in the room who says “It depends what you are doing, Miss.” I applaud them, as they are correct. Everyone’s moment is different and it’ll change with each learning area.
Professor Reuven Feuerstein, a Israeli Clinical, Developmental, and Cognitive Psychologist, the creator of Instrumental Enrichment, developed his work with the idea that everyone is modifiable. With the right type of mediation (questioning and guidance) every person no matter how young or old can grow and learn. Instrumental Enrichment (IE), is a pencil and paper curriculum to teach (or remediate) thinking skills to students. This program is not specific to the content area; it intentionally and sequentially teaches thinking. Each lesson ends with a “discussion for insight” which bridges IE to the normal content area and to life, giving students meaning beyond the four walls of school. The teacher’s role is to identify deficient cognitive functions and remediate them. The goal is to increase the cognitive modifiability of a student.
I fell in love with teaching when I worked as a teacher’s aid under my primary teacher. I, myself, didn’t enjoy school. But to see students’ eyes light up when the concept they were learning finally makes sense was so rewarding and the reason why I became a teacher.
Seven years ago I put my hand up to attend a professional development that was aimed at students with learning difficulties. It promised to teach students how to think. As I sat there I realised that everything I do in the classroom, even though it may be very engaging, interactive, educational and fun, none of it actually teaches my students how to think. As teachers, we require our students to organise their thoughts, compare, categorise, plan, form strategies, check for error and give thoughtful responses. But do we actually teach them how to do all of that and more?
Over the years of being trained in IE, I’ve challenged my students not to read the question on a worksheet, test, or textbook first but to label what they see and try and define what the problem is. After all, isn’t that what we do in life? I’ve developed a question routine that you can use with any age level when completing any task.
- Scan the picture/page/question.
- What do you see?
- What do you see that is the same?
- What do you see that is different?
- What do you have to do?
- Read the question to confirm, underlining important words.
- What is your plan? Where are you going to start?
- Use “What If” finger or brain to ‘test’ out your plan.
- Complete the question.
- Check for errors – How do you know you got it right?
- Compare to model/example.
- Redo if necessary.
Students become more aware of their learning as they go through the questions for tasks. In time they are self mediating as they ask themselves the questions. As students apply this to real-life situations we are creating high-level thinkers who can provide real-life solutions to issues.