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Using thinking organisers in the classroom: Primary examples

Using thinking organisers in the classroom: Primary examples
[Jane] What I really loved about the lesson was that every child was using reasoning to be able to explain whether the statements were true or false, whether that was through counting on their fingers, drawing number lines and showing the jumps, using a range of strategies, mental calculations, or things like spotting patterns in numbers, such as a child that knew that the 5 times table the number would end in a 0 or a 5.
Some groups really were able to apply. And I think a lot of that was because they were working in partners. And so it accelerated, and they went on to their golden cups of challenge quicker. I had planned for that in the sense that I had what I thought was a good starting point, a kind of next-step challenge, an obviously higher level challenge. So I’m about to come around with some Captain Computation stickers. And I’m going to be asking you to explain, pick up a pencil, show me how you proved it. You could write a sentence to tell me that you counted on your fingers. You could show me with Dienes sticks.
There’s a few other clues on our maths working wall that show you how you could do it. Number lines, Dienes, drawing the arrays. When you get your Captain Computation sticker, choose just one or two of those number sentences that you’ve stuck on, and prove it. In five minutes later, I’m going to be asking you to take Captain Computation out of your golden cups of a challenge. And if there’s anyone that wants to take a red card from there or yellow, you can. You can look in your golden cups if you want to. Right, carry on. [CHILDREN CHATTERING] One for you. One for you. Give you two a different one. One for you. Can you prove it? Captain Computation.
It doesn’t yet show me that it is 30. So are you going to need to show me five fingers six times? Can you show me? The thing that I adapted most was that actually every child in the class got to Captain Computation and was able to find a way of proving it. The way I had to adapt as I went around, was for certain children, I had to access resources for them so that they had practical resources to help them see what was going on and help them explain and suggest certain strategies for some children.
And in some cases, I actually had to grab what I thought was a much higher challenge, and give it to children who had accelerated their learning and got there. So everybody achieved the learning objective. There was still a lot of differentiation in how they achieved that learning objective and the range of numbers that they were using within that. I think where I need to go next is certain children, when it came to division, there was still a little bit of insecurity. One child commented that division is the same as takeaway or like takeaway. And in the essence, the numbers get smaller, yes. But there was a little bit of a misconception there.
And they’re just not as confident yet to apply that inverse rule. So that’s kind of where I want the learning to go next. Do a bit more of looking at the relationship between multiplication and division.
Our main focus is for the children to teach each other and extend each other. So by allowing them to sort of pose their own questions, trying not to lead it too much, and letting them discuss with each other, we’re hoping to bring on their reasoning skills. We scaffolded it through lots of partner talk, but also through visual aid, so getting them to sort the two life cycles out from one another. We felt like that was like lots of reasoning, but it was a visual aid for them. I think Venn diagram was really helpful in, again, with that questioning, letting them lead the questioning. And it gets debate going. That’s the key, particularly when they’re doing group work.
It’s getting them too not just say, oh, this is what I believe. It’s this is what I believe and this is why. And as soon as they start justifying themselves, then you can start to unpick their reasoning as a teacher. Which sounds quite cruel, but by going over if they say statement like, oh, well, this can’t possibly have any eggs in it because it’s a mammal. And I go, so where does the baby come from then? And then they’re like, oh, well– and so you’re forcing them every time to really think about what they’re saying and whether it’s true. Yeah, I think the Venn diagram is a good scaffold because then we could go around and question them.
And then through questioning, it almost generates more questions. Amphibians. OK, good. Hot. And their hot. They’re amphibians. We’ve got amphibians there. Orcas are mammals. OK, good. So we’ve orcas are mammals. Frogs are amphibians. How are they similar? Well, we both said that they both live in water. Fantastic. They both swim. Yep. They have eyes.
The second part of it was actually reading the text, then deducing and inferring information from writing. Which is almost like the second part of the scaffolding was really the visuals, I think.
They did the life cycle, then compare and contrasting with the Venn diagram. And then they also then scan the text and try to pull those facts in. And then they were doing a presentation. So that was quite a lot think about, I think. So I don’t know how you thought about it. Yeah, well, I think we could have perhaps had a guided group. You guys have come here. But then at the same time, it kind of contradicts the whole mixed ability learning and supporting one another. But I guess there’s some things that we could consider Yeah, yeah.
Here we observe Jane B, Gemma and Tom using and discussing different approaches they implemented in their classrooms to scaffold the learning for their children. They also talk about how this helped the children make progress in their learning.
  • Jane B with her Year 2 class (6-7 year olds) using a True and False Grid to help children categorise ideas (0:08-3:46)
  • Gemma and Tom with their Year 5 class (9-10 year olds) using a Venn diagram to help children compare and contrast ideas (3:46-6:42).


Share a brief summary of your thoughts about ONE of the activities, and how you might use it in the classroom.
Points we suggest you focus on are:
  • Subject
  • Topic
  • The practicalities of managing the ideas
  • Any questions you may have about the approach
Respond to at least one of the summaries contributed by other learners, for example to address any practicalities or questions raised.
Note: In this course we provide both primary and secondary school examples. Whilst you can focus on just your phase, we encourage you to see the practices used across both primary and secondary.
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