I am feeling very fortunate this week as my next two lesson plans have been edited and advised by Roger Sutcliffe of Thinking Moves and DialogueWorks.
This week's lesson is a fun one for Early Years and you can bend it to any topic you are currently doing in class. We are going to bake a cake! This Thinking Move is 'Ahead'. The ability for children to look ahead and predict what might happen in different alternate realities is a useful skill in all areas of their lives and one they have already been playing with.
As I discussed in my Pre-School Philosophers post, thinking ahead is something which pre-schoolers have already begun to do. Our pre-schoolers have been amateur problem solvers since birth. How do I get my carer’s attention? How do I get that food to my mouth? How do I get across the floor to my toy? How do I move my legs and arms alternately to crawl, walk, run? How do I get that off the shelf? Now, at pre-school level, their problem solving skills are reaching their first all time high. The problems they can solve are not just the physical and immediate anymore. Oh no. Now they have the skills to listen to imaginary scenarios and figure out a world of different possible actions and outcomes.
This lesson plan taps into that skill and makes it one which can be more formally encouraged. Throughout the plan there are several places where different Thinking Moves from the A-Z have been picked out. They are mainly in bold type. Don't be afraid to start to introduce these words to your children... "Today we are going to practice Thinking Ahead". In taking this easy step you are pushing your lesson from one where you are simply chatting about making a cake into one where you are starting to introduce children to the language of metacognition in the simplest and most accessible way.
A big thank you to Roger, who helped me to see that so many Thinking Moves appear in the simplest of activities! For anyone wanting to learn more about Thinking Moves A-Z or for the full A-Z list you can see it on the DialogueWorks website.
Some ways in which this plan could slip into your normal planning based on a theme could be...
Farms, Harvest, Produce, Little Red Hen - Refer to the things you have learnt already about where food comes from
Minibeasts - Make honey cakes
Traditional tales - make porridge instead (Goldilocks) or a savoury bean cake (Jack and the Beanstalk)
Plant life cycles - talk about the wheat that has been grown to make the flour
Animal life cycles - talk about the things you know about eggs or make one of the baked goods from The Hungry Caterpillar
Climates and Countries - make a cake from a different place in the world
Celebrations - make Simnel cake, Christmas cake or spring rolls
Healthy Bodies - Make a sugar free recipe. Maybe a beetroot cake
There are so many ways that you can link this activity to your current theme that you could go ahead and do it now!
So here is the plan. Let's get baking...
Richard Gore is a freelance P4C trainer working across Greater Manchester. He runs a weekly philosophy session at the Booth Centre in central Manchester for people experiencing homelessness.
For the past two years Richard has been leading the Building Resilience to Enquiry project which focuses on how the use of P4C can be used to build understanding and critical thinking about extremism and terrorism. Richard has a background in teaching in both primary and secondary schools as well as working for Oldham LEA with a focus on promoting ethnic minority achievement and community cohesion.
In both my Level 2A and 2B Philosophy for Children training I had the pleasure of being trained by Richard Gore. For anyone wanting to explore extremism in their P4C sessions or looking for a P4C scheme of work exploring extremism, Richard is your go to guy. I recently interviewed Richard.
In your training session introductions you talk about “roots and routes”. Could you give us a bit of background on this and also on your own journey to P4C
I like to share some very basic information about myself at the beginning of a training course so that participants know a little bit about me. I also like to do this in a way that is true to our practice in philosophy of exploring words and meaning. One simple way we do this is through the game of same and different and I really like to get participants to think about how these two words differ and yet also may have ways in which they have things in common.
My roots are very much in the north of England having been brought up near Bradford. Then through studying French and Spanish at university my route took me to France and Spain and Argentina before returning back to my roots for a year in Bradford. I then taught in Cambridge for 8 years before coming back again to my roots in the North to work in Oldham. It was in Oldham that I discovered Philosophy for Children and, over time, took a lead role in developing a schools and communities project. I immediately took to it as it is so great at doing some of things that I think education should all be about. Like providing opportunities for learners to engage with each other in high-quality dialogue to explore some of the biggest issues of life!
How did you first become involved in your projects relating to P4C and extremism?
Like so many other people I was really troubled by the attack on the Manchester arena in May 2017. It somehow was more personal as it was here in Manchester where I live and where I'm bringing up my children. I wanted to make a positive response to the event and the obvious way of doing this was to see how we could use the P4C methodology of dialogue and enquiry to develop understanding of why these things happen and how we can best respond to them. I put together a partnership group of P4C lead practitioners in schools in greater Manchester as well as p4c trainers from the North West. Following a period of research we began to develop and trial a range of activities suitable for Upper Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3.
How is the project going? What have been the main findings so far?
Following the development of the resource over the academic year 2017/2018 we involved over 35 schools nationally in piloting the resource over the autumn term 2018. The response was overwhelmingly positive from teachers and pupils. Teachers observed that combining the P4C methodology with the complex and thought-provoking activities we have developed allowed them to tackle these issues with confidence in the classroom. Pupils were really engaged in the activities and felt that they had really explored some key issues relating to extremism and terrorism and would definitely recommend the use of the resource in other schools with other students.
Your resource, “Using P4C to build understanding and critical thinking in relation to Extremism” covers both historical and very current events, such as the Manchester bombings. Why do you feel it is important to look at very historical events such as the activities of the Suffragettes when examining current extremism?
This is a really important question. We felt it was really important that pupils had an understanding that terrorism is not new and is not unique to our country. It seemed really important that there was an understanding that many different kinds of groups of people representing different religious or political views have taken part in terrorist activity. We also felt it was important that pupils had this understanding before we began to explore the recent events.
We then felt more able to consider in parallel the attack on the Manchester arena and the attack on Jo Cox MP that took place in South Yorkshire some months previously. We were able to explore the common factors that led to the radicalisation of the two men who carried out the attacks. It was really fascinating and rewarding researching the lives of Salman Abedi and Thomas Maier and to see the remarkable parallels between the factors that that led them to carry out their attacks.
Do you think that P4C could hold the key to helping teens avoid radicalisation?
There is no one single answer to help teens avoid radicalisation. However, I am certain that the resource we have developed with P4C as the core pedagogy, can play a major part. We are now working hard to grow the project to other schools and other areas of the country.
Your work using Philosophy for Children activities as part of The Oldham Dialogue and Enquiry Project was referenced in the DfE paper “Teaching Approaches That Help to Build Resilience to Extremism Among Young People”. Do you think we will see a day when P4C will be further embraced and recommended by the DfE as an approach to be used across the curriculum? How could P4C benefit the different areas of the Secondary National Curriculum?
As you know we have had an extensive research and training project funded by the Education Endowment Fund with a specific focus on coming to a judgement as to whether p4c improves attainment and other educational outcomes at the end of primary school. This could be the breakthrough that is needed to arrive at a situation where the DFE endorses philosophy for children and recommends its use nationally. Establishing P4C practice in secondary schools has always been a challenge, however there is now an increased emphasis in the secondary curriculum on developing reasoning and higher level skills of critical thinking. This also provides a great opportunity.
What is the most useful advice or tip you have picked up during your time as a P4C trainer and facilitator?
I remember a quote from Professor Robert Fisher that I sometimes use on Level 1 training courses that says children do not lack the ability to think they just need to be provided with the opportunities. The wonderful thing about Philosophy for Children is that the children themselves really take to it like ducks to water! So, let's make sure we give them the opportunity to develop questioning, deeper thinking and enquiry across the curriculum and across their school life! It could be the best educational gift that we give them!
If you would like to read the full overview of the Building Resilience to Enquiry project which focuses on how the use of P4C can be used to build understanding and critical thinking about extremism and terrorism then please click on the link within this sentence.
For some more background the following video clip shows the project in action. In it you will see a group of Year 6 children at St Annes Primary School in Manchester taking part in the activity 'The Diversity of Terrorism' as well as teachers from Cheetham Primary School in Manchester talking briefly about the experience of taking part in the project and the positive outcomes for their Year 6 pupils.
The Diversity of Terrorism Video
Many thanks to Richard for being the first interview in my new “Inspirational Interviews” section on Magical Mess.
This week I read my new copy of Thinking Moves A-Z by Roger Sutcliffe, Tom Bigglestone and Jason Buckley.
Thinking Moves is an easy to read mini guide to an A-Z of metacognition skills. For each letter you are given a skill and told how this is already seen in children and how it can be further developed. The book can be read from A to Z or dipped into as required. I am going to be dipping into it for inspiration every week. This week my lesson plan for P4C is based around the skill that is given for D - Divide. Next week I will be basing my planning on the skill for J - Justify.
Thinking Moves is a lovely slim book which makes it easy to pop in your bag. The skills and activities are beautifully transferrable from Early Years to Further Education.
For the full list of A-Z Thinking Moves please visit this link where you will also find more information about the framework and training, along with a video of Roger Sutcliffe talking about the approach.
To order your own copy click here
To give Thinking Moves a go with my letter D planning please see the below plans and enjoy. I will be doing this tomorrow with my 3 and 4 year olds.
Bear with my ramblings for a moment. I promise there is a planning document at the bottom of this post.
This week I was very lucky. I got to go to an Early Years conference that had some inspiring ideas for Understanding the World, Mathematics, ICT, Design Technology and Literacy. The conference was called 'The Really Practical Early Years Annual Conference - Developing Effective Provision for More Able Children in EYFS' and was run by the Lancashire Professional Development Service.
I was particularly inspired by the Key Note Speaker, Rachael Webb (Teaching and Learning Consultant, Primary Science). I had heard she was good from a colleague who had seen her speak before but I wasn't prepared for coming away with three whole pages of ideas to try that I hadn't tried before. All from a one hour session! The tone she set with her session, which was a theme which then ran through the whole conference, was that the key to learning is questioning. Not superficial questioning but in depth quality interactions which put children in the driving seat and us in the role of a facilitator who is helping them to explore the world, their choices and their reasoning. I know. In hindsight that is obvious right? So why do we forget it all the time?
I blame Pinterest personally. And all of the many, many, different choices of approach that are available to us in the EYFS. I do love the flexibility of not having to stick to the National Curriculum like our Key Stage colleagues but it can seem overwhelming that, in dealing with the woolly Development Matters, we are left swimming in a sea of Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Curiosity Approach, Pie Corbett, Dough Disco, Finger Gym, In The Moment Planning, Helicopter Stories, skills based, schema based, hessian clad sea of uncertainty. I do love all of those things in themselves but all together? No. Choose between? How?
In P4C I have found a wagon I can hitch my cart to. Because the underlying principles seem to be the ones that came out in every session I attended in the Early Years conference. That what children need from us in the early years is to learn new words, to hear and ask questions, to respect and care for each other and to make choices. We should be asking "what if?", "what do you notice?" and "what do you think?" We should be encouraging children to observe and explore, wonder and ask questions, look for similarities and changes. More than anything else we should just enjoy talking to our tots and having high quality interactions. The tiny window in which their brains and personalities are filled with wonder and unencumbered by societal expectations is the tiny window that we are privileged enough to peer into. The Early Years conference reminded me why I am striving to have a philosophical teaching approach in my daily life.
So get stuffed Pinterest!!! (Until I need some inspiration again and then I will admit I still love you. We were just on a break ok?)
My P4C planning this week was born from an idea that was suggested in the Early Years Conference (in which P4C wasn't even mentioned), proving my point (to myself) that P4C is transferable into all areas of the EYFS classroom.
So here is my P4C planning (using my QUESTS approach) for this week which could just as easily be used for an Understanding the World or Communication and Language activity.
Would a worm make a good pet???
Miss Magical Mess is a pre-school teacher and P4C Level 2B facilitator. After a shaky start as a P4C facilitator (P4C with 3 year olds... are you kidding?) Miss Magical Mess created her own approach to P4C and enquiry model and is now a big fan.