The Thoughtful Learner is a course for pupils in Key Stage 2 that helps learners begin to understand how they learn and how to improve their skills as learners

Written by Toby Quibell

Developing thinking and learning skills in Key Stage 2

This vibrant and colorful approach to teaching and learning will enhance the learning experience of your pupils and provide them with transferable skills that they will find invaluable as they progress through school and throughout life.

Easily introduced into the curriculum over a term without interrupting your normal teaching

Using the simple lessons and accompanying resources for one hour a week over a 10-week period will allow your classroom to become rich in the emphasis it gives to the process of learning that underpins all academic success.

The Thoughtful Learner will:

  • help pupils to think about learning and themselves as learners
  • enable teachers and schools to effectively consult pupils about their learning
  • encourage a stronger relationship between pupils and teachers by building trust and having fun in lesson times
  • provide pupils with a great experience likely to generate questions, learning tools and new perspectives on learning
  • give teachers a space in which they can begin to ask themselves questions about what their job is about

At the heart of The Thoughtful Learner is a set of 10 essential skills. Each of the 10 lessons teaches one of these skills:

  • meta learning – this helps learners understand their learning preferences. Pupils can then use this knowledge to deliver a well-rounded learning performance
  • perseverance – which helps pupils to develop the knack of re-establishing their concentration when they get stuck or frustrated
  • questioning and making links – linking what you have just learned to what you already know – this can help you to have a better understanding
  • imagining – learning to see different possibilities from a single source and having the confidence to generate, explore and evaluate new ideas
  • locking on to learning – when you understand what you are learning to a degree where you lose yourself in a task, which can bring about great mental attention and a sense of commitment to solving a problem
  • reasoning – being able to justify your choices of method and conclusions, giving reasons that are logical and intelligent, both intellectually and emotionally
  • recognizing and producing quality – learning how to go about improving the worth of projects they are involved in
  • independence and collaboration – developing the confidence to work individually and within a group, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each, and when one should be preferred to the other
  • empathy and listening – gaining an understanding of how to manage people they find difficult, and display insight and understanding in how others advance their own agenda
  • distilling – identifying and reaching for the next stage in learning

Pupils who develop Thoughtful Learner skills will be confident and creative, reflective and collaborative in tackling new learning areas. The skills will stay with them and help them throughout life in coming to grips with new knowledge. The approach will lay the foundations on which to build autonomous learners, who will also be life-long learners.

How it works

The Thoughtful Learner is comprised of three complementary elements:

  • A teacher’s book – giving an overview of how the resource works and how to implement it in the classroom.
  • Pupil workbooks – containing the story and exercises and activities for the pupils to do; this book is for pupils personalize and refer to whenever they need reminding of the learning skills.
  • A CD-Rom including the story and interactive whiteboard materials.

Each lesson begins with a short story and is developed through activities completed as a class using the interactive whiteboard and as individuals through the pupil workbooks.

The pupil workbook relates the story chapter by chapter, with exercises to be completed on the page relating both to the story and to the acquisition of essential thinking skills.

The pupils’ activities are supported by the teacher’s book – this gives detail on the lesson structure that will allow children to build the language of learning to the point where it informs the way they learn in every lesson.

The Thoughtful Learner is designed for you to encourage the development of the 10 skills through a normal teaching week, in your usual teaching style. At the beginning of the week, you read a chapter of the story and run the lesson relating to the story using the interactive whiteboard resource. In this time you will have given the class some new vocabulary, some practice in the skill, and the story with which to relate the skill, giving it context. You will also have used the resources to begin reflecting with the children on how this skill might be used and developed to improve their learning lives.

During the rest of the week, The Thoughtful Learner passports, at the back of the pupil workbook, are used to monitor and reinforce the development of the skill by stamping the passports whenever a child displays one of the skills.

Learning to learn as the story unfolds

You and your pupils follow the story of Jordan as he discovers new approaches to learning. Jordan’s life changes when his Grandad, an inventor, gives him a specially adapted satellite navigation box . At first he finds it annoying, but then the sat-nav turns out to be right about some really tricky things in school. Like working out how to beat the ‘wonderful’ Dean Watson in the class election. Or what to do when you have forgot your beloved hoodie…

Jordan is guided towards becoming a thoughtful learner. He works on the 10 skills he needs to succeed in school. Using his story, school professionals work through the lessons to establish the same 10 skills in Key Stage 2 classrooms.

As the term progresses, the 10 skills become part of pupils’ everyday approach to learning and are proudly recorded within the passport at the back of the pupil workbook– giving pupils their own record of how well they are doing and a sense of achievement, as well as giving you a chance to measure and review the success of the program within your class.