Moving from reading and writing...to thinking
Jason's shift from reading and writing to teaching thinking forced him to re-imagine what learning looks like for all students. Jason had been spinning for too long. He wanted his students to be better readers and writers but there were only so many paragraphs a student can write in a semester. This approach shaped much of Jason's career as an educator, without producing the outcomes he hoped for. When he first used the Integrative Thinking tools, he didn't have much success, either.
Hear Jason talk about the shift in his thinking that enabled the shift in his practice and classroom.
Jason needed to be a student first - and change his own thinking.
"I didn't necessarily understand the exact nature of some of the problems I was experiencing in my classroom. The gaps in our abilities were highlighted when I was given tools that helped to demonstrate student thinking more. The more I got to understand the tools better, the more I realized that they were thinking tools. When I set aside the reading, set aside the writing and focused first on thinking the other things came along naturally."
By focusing on thinking, Jason created innovative experiences for his students. For his grade 9 essential-stream students, Jason has students role play different perspectives while problem solving with the pro-pro chart. He uses causal modelling for his grade 12 class; students build models to create new plot lines in the stories studied in class. He uses the ladder of inference to teach media literacy by having model arguments in editorials - often using examples from newspapers with different perspectives for comparison.
Jason's mastery of Integrative Thinking shifted his teaching from being the "sage on the stage" to more of a facilitator.
He no longer carries the burden in the classroom of having to know everything. Instead, he rejoices in knowing that he cannot know everything. Success is now creating learning experiences for his students that highlight the diversity of their thinking. His colourful classroom walls are now covered with the thinking frameworks and students' work.
Jason's advice for other teachers
"When I have struggled in the past to push my students to share their thinking, it was because I often silenced or limited them by starting with reading and writing tasks with which they lacked confidence. When you are able to, set aside the reading and writing activities and start with tools that push students to think. Once they have had some success as thinkers - when they hear feedback from you and other students while building on each others' ideas during class discussions - they will approach more traditional reading and writing tasks with greater confidence because they have had some practice making the kinds of connections and critical leaps that we want them to make."
Integrative Thinking reinvigorated Jason's teaching practice. He continues to imagine new possibilities for the tools to engage his students in meaningful learning experiences.
Jason's students build causal models for Hamlet: