Prompted by several excellent blog posts and the practice of a colleague in a local primary school, I have been thinking about the importance of surprise in learning. The first five minutes of a lesson or meeting can be a crucial period of time in which to generate space for creative thinking. Surprising students before or as they enter the room might be a really effective strategy for challenging their expectations of the lesson. A curious sign on the door, a song or video playing in the room, a provocative question on the board, unusual equipment out on the desks ... These might all open up the potential for new and unusual forms of enquiry. I'm going to play around with these ideas over the next few weeks to see how effective they are in generating more creative thinking in my lessons.
On a related, but slightly different, note I've decided to steal an idea from a primary school colleague for my Tallis Lab lessons. She rewards children in her class who have demonstrated personal learning and thinking skills by giving them the honour of wearing a hat. Each hat has a different name, representing a specific learning skill or attribute, and they all hang expectantly on an old fashioned hat stand in the corner of the room. So, in any one lesson, children may be wearing the bowler hat of perseverance, the tiara of creativity or the beret of collaboration.
I'm off to scour the charity shops of South East London in search of my PLTS hats right now. I'm certainly hoping that my new hats will add an element of surprise to my next few lessons and help students get to grips with the notion of explicit, transferable, personal learning and thinking skills.
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