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  • Teaching analytical thinking and writing Andy Homden

    Connecting Teachers conference, JCSC July 6 & 7 2017


  • Objectives

    •What are you hoping to gain from this workshop?

    • I would like to: Discuss the importance of analytical thinking Show how analytical writing can be taught to a

    wide range of students Suggest some quick ideas you can start using

    immediately Some bigger ideas for your school to consider


  • 3. Learning strengths and weaknesses of your students

    Three strengths:




    Three weaknesses:




    How did Year 11s & 13s deal with new linear courses?


  • Three language-based skill sets for analytical thinking

    1. Actively and deliberately building vocabulary

    2. The confident practice of analytical writing

    3. Building and retaining a relevant body of knowledge


  • Analytical thinking and independent learning


  • 9. Walkabout: survive, then thrive


  • An extreme learning situation


    Film clip:



  • Language, analytical writing and independent learning

    With our help, and in every subject, students must

    learn how to take control of and use language effectively to the point where they don’t need us. Therefore:

     Every lesson is a language lesson  We are all teachers of language


  • Why is the ability to analyse important?

    1. Analytical thinking is a learnable and repeatable process that leads to insight, understanding and ultimately independence

    2. It enables the expression of ideas with precision 3. It is a means of establishing context and seeing what’s

    there 4. A stepping stone to critical thinking 5. A stepping stone to creative thinking


  • Language skill set 1: building vocabulary

    With explicit guidance, students must learn how to

    1. Build their general vocabulary 2. Build their specialist vocabulary 3. Know when to use more formal language – and

    learn how to use it.


  • Language mantra 1: Meaning = Definition + Use Origin (M =DUO)

    1. Define “analysis”

    2. Give 2 examples of its use

    3. What are the origins of the word “analysis?”

    https://www.oxforddictionaries.co m/

    M = DUO example





    Above the surface __________________________________________________

    Below the surface



  • Recording key terms: starting a glossary

    Identify key terms in every unit

    Ask students to challenge you all the time about words and their meanings

    You challenge them about words and their meaning in every lesson

    We are all teachers of language


  • The importance of listening: Listen Wise

    • https://listenwise.com/

    Sample exercise:

    DNA Changes the Linnaean Classification System

    https://listenwise.com/teach/lessons/75-dna- changes-the-linnaean-classification-system


    https://listenwise.com/ https://listenwise.com/teach/lessons/75-dna-changes-the-linnaean-classification-system

  • Language skill set 2: analytical writing

    Involves the methodical analysis of a concept, idea or question, and the synthesis of a response or answer.

    1. Definition

    2. Use

    3. Origin

    Analytical writing: what is it? M = DUO for Synthesis

    If a school adopts a coordinated approach to independent learning, a shared definition of these terms is vital.


  • The 8 step “mantra” for writing a good argument

    1. Brainstorm

    2. Delete the irrelevant

    3. See the connections

    4. Draw the diagram

    1. Decide the order (Intro, 2, 3, 4, Conclusion)

    2. Write the Intro

    3. Write the supporting paras with evidence

    4. Write the conclusion

    Analysis Synthesis


  • Two analytical exercises: 1 concrete, 1 abstract

    Use the 8 stages of analysis and synthesis to describe a motorway service station.

    Use the 8 stages of analysis and synthesis to answer this question:

    Why did the people of the United States elect Donald Trump on November 8 2016?

    Concrete Abstract


  • Language mantra 2: analyse then synthesise


  • Introductions, conclusions and the bits in between.

    1. What is an introduction?

    2. What is a conclusion?

    3. What is the difference?

    4. What comes between?


  • Expert in a year: a sporting analogy


    Video clip:



  • Teaching style 1: coaching analytical writing

    • Purposeful Practice

    • Repetition

    • Recapping & spiralling

    • Scaffolding and conditioning the game

    • The idea of the personal best

    • Peaking at the right time: just another PB


  • Analytical writing: do 1 thing at a time


  • Language skill set 3: Growing a body of knowledge with understanding

    • The relationship between memorisation and learning: memorising in order to learn

    • The importance of knowing “how” to build knowledge

    • building a body of knowledge as an active process

    • Organisation: practical ideas for recording, storing and accessing what is being learned

    • The relationship between STM & LTM

    • The continuing importance of “purposeful practice”


  • Teaching style 2: monitoring (and lecturing?)

    • The importance of being organised and systematic in note building: why?

    •What guidance do students need?

    • Should we ever “lecture”? If so, what is good technique?

    • The importance of access

    • What to read and how to read it; monitoring note making

    • Lecturing: structure as a formal set piece on a regular basis


  • A successful student is organised for independence

    How do you like students to get their work organised?

    Some other suggestions • The general A4 Spiral pad • Headings, sub headings • The glossary • The General File • Specialised files • Transferring notes to files: pagination, annotation • E-notes?


  • Using and learning notes

    • What questions can you answer with these notes?

    • Connecting ideas & inserting pages

    • Condensing notes: the “reverse wedge”

    Files Flash cards Making notes Making cards


  • Learning and memorisation • Is memorising knowledge

    still important?

    • What’s the difference between Long Term and Short Term memory?

    • See Christodoulou: 7 Myths about Education

    • The final exam

    • the importance of “pitching”

    • STM: operations

    • LTM: storage

    • Interaction between LTM & STM to generate ideas & connections


  • Mantra 3: building a body of knowledge


  • New knowledge and revision

    • When do you start revising? • When do you stop introducing new material? • Why is a school-wide agreed approach to revision

    desirable in a two year course? • Plan the year in advance: start with the exams

    and work backwards • The exam period: awareness, not demonisation


  • 44. New knowledge and revision

    September March, 18 months later


  • Revision and exam technique

    • Revision: what works?

    • Exam technique?

    Some other ideas: • Little and often • Chunk up revision in a

    planned time table in Y13

    • Revision from the start • Reading through a paper • If you realise you’re

    behind in an exam


  • Influencing your school What aspects of this work would you like to

    use personally? What aspects of this work do you think

    might be generally introduced? How can you influence your colleagues and

    the SLT? What might be your priorities?


  • Perhaps the school’s Language or Literacy policy?

    1. How would you change it?

    2. Some ideas • Language must be at the centre of every subject

    • All staff require students to build a subject glossary • Meaning of key terms need to be part of every unit of study (e.g. at

    least 3 subject based and 3 “common” words are discussed as part of a week’s unit of work)

    • Everyone use the same dictionary

    • www.oxforddictionaries.com



  • International Teacher Magazine; learning wedge video

    • Further reading: resources page in International Teacher Magazine:

    • ht


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