Building a classroom community
For Beth Grosso, everything that happens in her classroom is because of the community. Her approach is: “I’ll get to fractions, but right now let me model how you listen, how you speak, how you understand what others are saying [...] When that collaboration happens, fractions actually are easier to teach.”
Integrative Thinking helped Beth focus on the classroom community and explicitly teach collaboration skills, starting with empathy. "[I-Think] gets students listening to each other and understanding where someone else is coming from [...] If they're just thinking of their own little worlds, minds, and selves, they're not going to connect their ideas to someone else's."
After the classroom community is established, the learning takes off. "I know things are going okay in my room when there’s an incredible discussion going on, and I’m not a part of it."
During these discussions, Beth noticed her students were coming to conclusions based on divergent ideas and perspectives, and wanting to apply their knowledge outside of the classroom. "That never would've happened if they didn't have the I-Think skills [...] If I know that later in life, they’re going to be able to apply something that they learned in a totally different area to help solve a problem that I never even thought existed at the time, then I think that’s a good thing."
Beth introduces her Grade 4 students to the ladder of inference: