Highcliffe Learning Hub

Christmas Term - Critical Thinking!

Posted 11/12/2017 10:40:40 by aalston

Just a snapshot of a few amazing things that have happened this term in Learning and Teaching with a Critical Thinking focus. 

1.       SUBJECT PPD’s


Teachers in Art and Design are using their strengths within the subject to enhance student and colleague learning.

‘As part of Performance Management, we have set targets that develop our Art curriculum through sharing best practice. This has been embedded in to our MER timetable and involves taking the lead in a subject meeting, focussed around our areas of interest. 

Sue Guppy led a meeting on Critical Thinking - focusing on how we analyse artwork and the levels of thinking involved. Covering: which level of thinking skills are the most frequently used – relating to our own knowledge of AO’s and understanding. How can this be extended? What are the processes needed to access the higher order critical thinking skills on the mark scheme? Building blocks of knowledge following Blooms Taxonomy.

This session was inspired by a Year 12 lesson Sue had developed for her lesson observation. The same lesson was taught to the Art team and it was really beneficial, learning about how students develop those important layers of critical thinking skills that are required when analysing artwork. We plan to use the new frameworks across our subjects and develop toolkits to use for all key stages.’


Science now have a Critical Thinking Working Group with members experimenting with different strategies and feeding back the best strategies for use in science lessons. The aim is to create a critical thinking science toolkit next term.

The process has already begun! In Physics lessons A-Level students created table-cloth ‘Thinking Maps’ rather than simply mind-mapping ideas. Thinking maps have more structure and purpose. See the results for yourself! 

In Biology and Physics lessons, students are now asking the questions and scoring one another based on the difficulty of the question asked! Competitive and challenging – all based around the question matrix. 


Six members of staff have been involved in the Lesson Study process this term. The focus was collaboration and critical thinking and thus far feedback has been great. 

English, Business and Art & Design

Amy Eggleston, Keith Tyler and Stephen James are looking at the idea of SQUID.

‘SQUID stands for statement, quotation, understanding, inference and development.  This is a method which has developed in the last few years within the English department.  It can be used as a method to make students think on a deeper level about a text they are studying.  It encourages analytical and critical thinking, rather than just descriptive commentary.  We are investigating how this method could possibly be adapted and rolled our across other student areas, for example, in Media, Photography and IT with KS4 and KS5 students.’

This Lesson Study continues next term, the results of which will hopefully be fed-back at the next development group meeting. 

Maths and Science

Kai, Rachel, Steven have been trialling the following collaborative structure in their lessons:

1.       10-15 minute individual task consisting of a couple of deep analytical questions.

2.       15 minute period where students can discuss the questions and produce an answer to the same question on A3

3.       My ‘favourite No’/ display of perfect answer (5 mins)

4.       15 minutes for a similar couple of questions for students to attempt individually.

5.       5 minutes to go over perfect answers.

6.       5 minutes for students to be self-reflective and write a sentence in books explaining what they think they did better second time round.

‘’The aim of the game was to encourage students to understand how much easier a task can become following group work discussions and hence to advertise the importance of collaborative work- commendations were given for particularly good group discussions. Students responded well to this and produced some fantastic work. 


Thank you to those who managed to come along to this and for those who have given feedback and since experimented with some of the strategies seen. As nerve-racking as it was to teach in front of teachers, what a great session we had! The students really demonstrated that critical thinking is not beyond their reach – in fact they were really rather good at it!

Already planning the next one…


















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