What is Critical Skills?
Critical skills develops skills and attributes to prepare our children to become confident, independent life-long learners. It addresses all the preferred learning styles of our students so that our curriculum is fully inclusive. It supports our staff to ensure successful learning in our classrooms occurs that the children take control of.
Developing Dispositions and Critical Skills
We plan our lessons to develop the following skills in our children.
The skill or disposition is identified in the planning and forms part of the “challenge” that is set for the students.
Critical Skills Dispositions
Problem Solving Life-Long learners
Decision Making Self-directed
Critical Thinking Quality worker
Creative Thinking Ethical character
Management Community member
Setting a Challenge
A challenge is a problem that is set for a group of students. It is very specific about the process and the outcomes that the students will need to meet in order to fulfil the challenge. Throughout the challenge there are targeted skills and dispositions that will have to be met as well as academic content. Children plan the challenge thinking carefully about the success criteria and evaluate their challenge at the end. The teacher and peers also provide valuable feedback to a challenge ‘group’ which helps children to reflect and subsequently improve their learning.
Challenges are worked on by groups of students, they negotiate their role as a group member. The roles are: Facilitator; Resource manager; Time keeper; Recorder and Reporter.
The job descriptions of the above are clearly defined and negotiated within the group as specific observable behaviours.
Why have we introduced critical skills?
We want to raise standards even higher and collaborative group work has been highlighted within the SEF as an area that will help us achieve this. There is much research to show that this approach to learning improves teaching and has a dramatic impact on children’s attainment. We are planning for half termly challenges in order to make a big impact across the whole school. We are taking a risk however teachers have already reported that the introduction has had a positive impact on their children’s learning and interaction. We are also including daily ‘Thunks’ into our day.
What is a Thunk?
A Thunk is a simple-looking question about everyday things that stops you in your tracks and helps you start to look at the world in a whole new light. Usually, thunks will be displayed and time will be given for the children to ‘think, pair, share.’ Think about it individually, share their thoughts with a partner, then share with the rest of the class.
The Thunks can be as simple as,
“What if Father Christmas ruled the world?”
It is important to remember with a thunk that there are no wrong answers. The children however, must justify their responses and give reasons for their thinking.
We find that through thunks and challenges, the children become involved with their learning. They take control of their findings and generally develop their speaking and listening skills which is paramount for our children.