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Young pupils studying for SAT

SATS Thinking Tools

The first tool we practised was the ‘Plus, Minus, Interesting’ (PMI), described as an “attention-directing? and “perception-broadening? tool. When describing how to do a PMI, Edward de Bono says, ? It is not a matter of thinking of the points as they come up and then dropping each into a box labelled, P, M or I. It is a matter of specifically looking in the Plus direction first and noting what you see…then looking specifically in the Minus direction and noting what you see…and finally looking specifically in the Interesting direction.?

Using this tool led us to engage in “parallel? thinking where we were all focused on the same direction of thinking at the same time. The ‘Interesting’ part of a PMI requires that you consider neutral points, possibilities and speculations which lead naturally into creative thinking. We used PMI for general discussion (e.g. half term holiday), and in Literacy (e.g. to help construct argumentative text). Ultimately we used it to evaluate the research project when the children did a PMI about using Thinking Tools!

The second tool to be introduced was the ‘Consider All Factors’ (CAF), designed to look as widely as possible at all the factors involved in a situation, instead of only the immediate ones. A key element in considering all factors is to keep asking the questions, ‘What else is there?’ and ‘What have we missed out?’ We used this tool in many different areas of the curriculum, but found it particularly useful in Literacy, especially when preparing to do ‘published’ pieces of writing. Here we would consider the factors specific to a certain type of writing as well as generic factors such as spelling, punctuation and handwriting.

The final (and probably most important in terms of the research) tool to be introduced was the ‘Other People’s Views’ (OPV), designed specifically to consider the viewpoints of others. The OPV has two stages. The first stage involves identifying the people, or groups of people, that are involved in or affected by the situation or question. The second stage involves putting yourself in the shoes of each of these people in turn and expressing what they think and feel as if you were them. An OPV is therefore expressed in the first person. Again we used OPV in different situations and curriculum areas. As time progressed and the national tests drew closer, the focus of our thinking tools lessons was extended to Literacy lessons. All three teaching groups started to use the weekly half-hour session to set up reading comprehension homework tasks. Pupils in my target group used OPV when looking at pieces of text. The first stage was focused on identifying the characters and the author as a person with a viewpoint. During the second stage of the OPV they put themselves into the shoes of the characters (investigating their feelings and motives) and the author (investigating his/her intentions, word choices etc).
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