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Skip to 0 minutes and 11 secondsHello, and welcome to Week 3. This week, we're discussing how we can use language to get learners thinking about subject content. So, Paul, how do you achieve this? I think quite a good way of doing this is to divide up language into different types of thinking skills, in a way. You could look at lower order thinking skills, which might be simply labelling something or remembering something. It's important to remember here, though, that sometimes the vocabulary can be very specific in certain subject areas. If I take an example from science, it might be if you were trying to label a skeleton, for example, it's very specific terms and vocabulary for certain parts of that skeleton.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 secondsSo it's not about using basic vocabulary. It can be using advanced vocabulary, but the thinking skills that are involved are actually relatively low level at this point. So you're just simply using the right language in the right way. Once students have got that, then they're able to proceed and go a bit further with their language, hopefully eventually be able to be a bit more creative in their language eventually, thereby accessing the higher order thinking skills. They can think a lot harder about things. They can analyse. They can create. They can go beyond just the basic terminology they may already have used initially in talking about the subject area.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 secondsAnd do you have some examples that you could share with us, Kay? OK. I'll use the subject of history this time. If I want learners to predict, I'll try and find an image of an event in the past. So it could be from the internet or from a coursebook. And I may, before they learn about it, ask them to predict who is in the picture, when it was, where it was, and then to predict what they're going to learn about. After learning about it, I might ask them to hypothesise and say, OK, what do you think could have happened after this event?

Skip to 2 minutes and 7 secondsSo that that's much more demanding in their thinking skills and probably can't be done at the start of learning a subject. But it's important to think about possibility thinking. And that involves modality - could, should, might, would - which is much more complex. So it's much more demanding on the student - Yes. - in fact, on the learners. Yes. So the higher order thinking skills usually demand more advanced grammar. Can you give us a few examples of questions you might ask in that context? Well, again, if I'm working with history, the learners might look at two pictures, two diary extracts, two extracts from letters. And they could compare and contrast, which would be fairly low order - the items.

Skip to 2 minutes and 55 secondsOr they could look for cause and effect, which is a bit more high order. Or I could ask them to evaluate how useful these resources are for history. So again, working from the low order, comparing up to high order, evaluating. OK. But I do think that encouraging or developing creative learning skills in subject learning is really important. OK. And teachers need to build in time for that. I'd agree. I think it's important to give them some kind of stems initially, as well, to know how to talk in this kind of way. It may be they've never ever had the opportunity wherever to think in these sorts of ways about, say, something in history before.

Skip to 3 minutes and 36 secondsThey may never have approached that in their lives, be it outside or inside school. So it's good, then, to almost open up those kind of ways of thinking in their minds. And to enable them to do that, just give them those initial sentence stems. And then gradually take those away and make them think more and more about how they could go further in their thinking, how creative they could be. And just give them the opportunity to run with something, as well, rather than shutting them off too quickly. Yes. And also question starters because for possibility thinking, it's often 'what if?' Yeah. Or reasoning - why, why not, how. So the question starters, I think, are really key for that.

Welcome to Week 3

Watch Helen, Kay and Paul discussing how to get learners thinking about subject concepts.

Which higher order thinking skills (HOTS) and lower order thinking skills (LOTS) do Helen, Kay and Paul talk about? Watch and take notes.

Higher order thinking skills (HOTS) Lower order thinking skills (LOTS)
   

Check your answers with the pdf in the download section below.

Task
How do you help learners to develop thinking skills in your subject? Join the discussion and tell us what you do.

Live Q&A session

On Monday, 14 November we held the first of our live Q&A sessions with Kay. View the video recording here. You might like to download the pdf of the slides that Kay refers to before you watch.

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Your Subject in English

Cambridge Assessment English

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