Learning Techniques In all activities the students should be given a role to allow them to orientate their thinking.

Teachers should start by discussing the role and the style of research or learning they would engage in. Often students are poor learners because they do not appreciate the different modes of operation within the act of learning and the way a particular role directs and engages differing language skills. Students are also given an idea of the final product and the role will determine the style of language the produce will demand and the style of communication they will need to engage in. Here again teachers should discuss the language and style of reporting at the appropriate time. This is as much a function of literacy as the use of a writing frame. Where a writing frame is needed they are given guidance and the keyword list should be extended into a glossary to allow the student to gain some idea of progression in their learning. The thinking and writing frames students will use in the modules are: • Building progressive glossaries

Words are written in the order they are revealed in the text or work. They are then defined both in text and pictorially in hierarchical concept maps such as the Network Tree see p25. This allows the student to organise the knowledge not by alphabet but by the logical knowledge links in the subject.
• Story boarding

Storyboards are a series of pictorial representations with a short commentary to show the development of ideas or events.

Thought Experiments These are specific approaches relating to the exploration of a procedure or concept by thinking through the variables that affect an outcome and determining a range of possible solutions.

Compare and contrast grids

An approach that allows the student to compare two factors and make decisions based upon the contrast between the factors, e.g.
Material for a skateboard Balsa Wood Advantage • • • Easy to cut to shape Light Easy to form to a bend • • • Disadvantage Soft Breaks easily Squashes easily Evaluation – Decision – For Which Part Not really a good material for any part because it is brittle and would break too quickly.

Exploration grids An exploration grid allows the student to explore different factors and the relationship between the factors and purpose allowing the student to make a decision, e.g.


Aerodynamic Factors

How aerodynamic factor helps

Good materials for the sport/object

How aerodynamics and material help in the sport Lightness helps lift and shape helps lift and stability


Curved shape Smooth Round edges

Shape creates lift Spinning keeps it stable

Wood High Density plastic

Context Connection Organiser

An approach that focuses upon analysis skills and synthesis skills by linking actual facts gleaned from the text linked to personal views and has the following structure:
Title Subtitles •

• Associations or first thoughts after a quick read

I think this text is about

Contextual Connections Self – Any personal experiences or things you have heard related to the text Literature – What else have I read, seen on television or Internet related to this?

Society and Community – How does it relate to the classroom, School, society? History – Is there any pattern that have been repeated in the world at large or in the past?

Summary of the text in your own words

Poster presentation.

A fairly common approach in which the students research information and then groups the ideas into related topics and designs a poster that illustrates the differing aspects, issues or ideas relating to the topic. It is important that they concentrate upon the organisation of the information and the poster has a logical flow to it.

Clustering Cluster is a thinking tool designed to help you write a discussion more easily and it works in this way:  First as individuals you research and find out as much as you can about the topic. As you do that you make quick short notes on a number of small pieces of paper, post-its or magnetic note-lets.  After 5 – 8 minutes you stop and in groups of threes you cluster all those ideas or notes into one mass collection.  Now you separate and put together those that are related to each other.  Each cluster is given a name to describe the collection.  The different clusters of notes are put into a sequence.  Each sequence can be written up into sentences and then into paragraphs to form a discussion piece on the topic.

Mapping Activities The following are from O’Brieni (2003). Concept Cycles

Frequently used concept map used in science to show how events interact to produce a cycle of results; they are frequently used for the drawing of the water cycle, life cycles or the rock cycle or any cyclic process.

Network Trees

This type of concept map illustrates the hierarchy of subordinate relationships between concepts and illustrates the line of progression of ideas. It can also be used to show causal relationships. In science often used to show a progression of ideas such as particle to atom to ion to molecule to sub-atomic particles or any classification process such as those for animals, plants or rocks, also for hierarchical relationships such as food chains, manufacturing processes or energy transforms. Events Chains

These concept maps describe the stages of a process and allows the student the opportunity to develop a linear relationship or sequence of events. This can be used as a flow chart to show a

procedure in a technique, development of a formula or equation or a process such as the formation of soil from the weathering of rocks.

Consequence Maps
This is a way of examining the multitude of consequences from an action or a proposed action. The student responds by identifying the outcomes to a n action followed by the reasons for that outcome. These outcomes can be evaluated to ascertain the most probable outcome. These thinking tools are useful for all abilities but the gifted student responds more favourably than the average or least average student because they are capable of speculating upon evidence and evaluating evidence. They are asking the student to make critical judgements, for example if the proposition was ‘What would happen if gravity on Earth was reduced?’

What if

Vee Heuristic diagram Developed by Bob Gowin to show the links between conceptual and methodology and how they interact. It is a useful technique for analysis of documents, practical sessions and lectures.

Theoretical/ Conceptual Philosophy/Accepted views Theories Principles/ Constructs/Paradigm Concepts Focus Question

Methodology Value/Claims Knowledge/ claims Transformations/Changes Facts/Records Events/objects

An example of the use of the Vee Heuristic in laboratory investigation of cells is shown below

Theory: Organisms are made up of cells. Cells are small living units. Animal and plant cells are different. Principles: Living things include bacteria, plants and animals so all must be made of cells. Concepts – Words: cell, living, microscope, similar, different, stains, organelles

Claims: You can tell the difference between animal and plant cells by looking at them down a microscope Question: Can you collect cells, stain them and see differences between animal and plant cells? Knowledge claims: cells contain certain bits the same like nucleus, cytoplasm but there are different bits like cell walls and organelles. Transformations: Animal cells do not have a cell wall or vacuole – the hole in the middle but all have the large blob called a nucleus Record: see drawings drawn from the microscope

Objects and events: We have cells in our cheeks. We can remove those cells by scraping. They can be stained and put under a microscope. Onions have cells in the layers. We can remove a thin strip of that layer. It can be stained and put under the microscope. By looking at both and using a book for reference I can see the difference in the animal cell (mine) and the plant cell (onion). The big differences are easy but they’re some I cannot see but must accept.

Herring Bone Diagrams
These are an effective way to organize information; they are used to describe events or relate concepts in terms of six questions: • • • • What; What they do; How, When or where; Why;

A sentence is composed as a backbone and the chains of concepts are drawn off from this sentence like ribs to form a herring bone skeleton. It is a refined concept amp that gives some sense to the lateral relationship of linked concepts and are useful for the gifted student since they can summarise texts and materials and use them for revision purposes. An example for cells is shown below.

Small chemical factories in which mitochondria release energy from sugars by respiration Secrete an oily substance called sebum poisonous to microorganisms Have nucleus, cytoplasm mitochondria inside a cell membrane

Smallest living unit of animals and different from plant cells

Epidermal cells are protective cells filled with keratin on the surface of the body

Animal cells

Skin tissue

Cells are the building blocks of tissues that are the building blocks of organs

Plant cells

Leaf tissue

Smallest living unit of a plant and different from animal cells

Stomata cells are cells with holes that can control water loss

Have vacuole, nucleus, cytoplasm mitochondria and cell membrane inside a rigid cell wall

Changes in humidity, temperature and pressure affect the stomata and the hole changes size

Small chemical factories in which light helps chloroplasts produce energy storing sugars and mitochondria release energy from sugars

Flow Charts Flow charts are useful for organizing spatial information, chronological information, cause and effect relationships, and process information.
Force A push or pull acting on a body F=mxa Force = mass x acceleration


A downward force pulling things towards the centre of the earth


m 1 x m2

D2 Force = Gravity constant x (mass of body 1 x mass of body 2 divided by the square of the distance between them

Objects fall towards the Earth’s surface

Earth’s gravity pulls things towards its surface

Flash Cards Flash cards are used to organize ideas and definitions, people and contributions, time periods, and other types of information. When identifying major terms, people and concepts, focus on four things: • • • • Who or what is the term With what is it associated Function or purpose Why is the term or concept important to the study of the subject


Polish astronomer Renaissance Period Suggested that Earth orbits the Sun rather than Earth as the centre of the Universe Considered a heretic but also established modern astronomy



Zones Of Relevance and Mystery These are used with activities where there is no clear outcome but a lot of evidence that needs sorting. The process starts by examining the evidence, data, descriptions or hypothesis in relation to an event or phenomena such as a list of statements relating to cells, animals and plants and using the circles, arranged as below, as collecting and focusing points for the statements:

False statements

For Research

True but not relevant

Zone of Relevance

The student sorts the statements into false, true or don’t know and need to research. The student then sorts the true statements into relevant or not relevant to the evidence, data, description or hypothesis. If more than one hypothesis etc. are tested the relevant statements can be examined

for key status for example if the evidence supports three hypotheses then it can be considered as key information. These statements can be then gathered and written into continuous prose within a prescribed genre. Alternatively if data or descriptions are being examined then the student can be asked to provide a hypothesis to explain the data, event or phenomena. The skills being developed are analysis and classification, concept understanding, explaining and justifying. The above techniques are powerful thinking tools since when used in different challenging contexts they promote higher-level thinking in Blooms Taxonomy: Lower Level • To know the facts Know. • To show knowing by using the facts Comprehension. • To apply the facts to a problem Application Higher Level • To analyse ones knowing - identify the facts • To be creative & critical by problem solving -

Analysis Synthesis Evaluation

Argument Mapping is concerned with producing graphical "boxes and arrows" maps of complex debates. The result is a paper chart presenting an overview of the reasoning. Argument mapping focuses on the inferential or evidential structure among claims and reasons to produce paper charts and although similar to, it is important to distinguish argument mapping from other techniques such as concept mapping, and decision analysis as the example below shows.
Very few examples of bird fossils have been found No direct link between the fossil birds & modern birds Descendants of dinosaurs forming dead branches of evolution


The bird features have not evolved from one ancestor but from many. Tarsitano & Hecht support Heilmann’s theory that birds evolved from a Triassic archisaur into the Confuciusornis a magpie sized flying bird that flew more strongly than Archaeopteryx Objections to proposition Proposition: Birds are evolved from the dinosaurs through the Archaeopteryx

Reasons supporting proposition Archaeopteryx a reptile with hallow bones, feathers for flight, small stiff tail, horn tipped claws flew 150 mya.


Developed from Jurassic to Cretaceous a period of 138 million years and gave to a number of origins

Compsognathus a meat eating dinosaur small with long hallow tail evolved into bird like ornithopods

Gallimimus a large plant eating dinosaur had toothless beak in small bird-like head, mimicked an ostrich

Therizinosaurus a plant eating dinosaur with feathers, mimics an ostrich with scythe like claws

Ovirapor egg eating dinosaur with bird head broods their eggs with lightweight skeleton chickenlike

Caudipteryx bird-like dinosaur, feathers, and a bird head with beak, tail feather

Argument mapping expands an individual’s capacity to grasp complex debates by presenting the argumentation in two-dimensional spatial layout. Because it translates abstract conceptual structure into a simple spatial structure they are only really suitable for the gifted student and gives them the following: • • • • A permanent record of thinking on a topic that contributes to a debate. Promote clarity and rigour in thinking by improving the sharing of knowledge in a group leading to a deeper understanding of issues; Extremely efficient ways to present overviews, indicating the boundaries of current knowledge or debate in complex argumentation to another student; Promote better decision making by ensuring that a higher proportion of relevant considerations are taken into account;


O’Brien P., (2003). Using Science to develop Thinking Skills at Key Stage 3. Chiswick: David Fulton/NACE

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