“Winner, BESA Educational Resources Book Award 2007

Thinking Through School tackles a completely new way of learning, by helping schools, teachers and pupils move onto a more sophisticated level of thinking skills and creative learning

This unique project for Year 7 pupils — which won the BESA Educational Resources Book Award 2007 — aims to enhance the overall learning experience of pupils and provide them with transferable skills useful for life. Thinking Through School leads pupils through a story with activities and exercises that help both them and you to evaluate the way they think and learn. It will enable:

  • pupils to think about learning and themselves as learners — it is about learning

  • teachers and schools to effectively consult pupils about their learning — it is about pupil voice

  • both parties, pupils and teachers, have some fun and build trust on the way to a new and potentially stronger relationship

‘[my students] have really responded to this learning journey, which is far from finished.  They have become reflective and self-motivated, enjoying the flexibility within the scheme to explore their own learning and preconceived ideas about themselves as learners.  In fact, TTS has provoked another beginning for them.’

Teacher, Allertonshire School, North Yorkshire

How does it work?
Thinking Through School is structured not as a series of factual, text book-style sessions about learning, but as a story: the story of eLfi and Jaz finding out what it means to be a good learner.

Each chapter of the story includes a narrative and is based around a key idea. Each chapter also includes practical exercises around this theme for teachers to work through with pupils. The teacher and pupils read the chapter together as the basis for their subsequent enquiry.

Then pupils try out some activities and share their reactions and ideas. Following this launch lesson the pupils continue the enquiry by investigating an aspect of their learning in a selected lesson or in everyday life over the following week.

In a follow-up session both pupils and teachers report back – as a community of enquiry. Over time, the pupils are building up a repertoire of insights and skills.This encourages them to be metacognitive (thinking about thinking) and self-regulating.

Thinking Through School comprises:

  • Thinking Through School: A Guide for School Leaders — a complete guide for the person who will lead the project within your school.
  • Thinking Through School Teacher’s Book — for each class teacher who wishes to take part and implement the project with a class of pupils.
  • Thinking Through School Pupil Book: eLfi & Jaz — for each pupil, this books contains the story with exercises and activities that pupils will work through.
  • Thinking Through School Operator Notebook — for each pupil, this is where they record their thoughts and ideas in response to the activities and exercises within the text.

Thinking Through School extracts

This extract from the leader’s guide lists all of the sections of Thinking Through School and goes a little further to explain how the project it works.

These extracts show ‘Chapter 3: What is learning anyway?’ of Thinking Through School as an example of how the different books work together to cover each section:

Teacher’s Book extract pages 15-16
Operator Notebook extract pages 5-8

What people already using it have said about Thinking Through School:

‘My students loved Jaz and Elfi as soon as we began using Thinking Through School…our first lesson developed into a discussion of trust; ICT awareness; friendship and appropriate questions you should ask in Jaz’s situation.  The story does make students think. It offers them a toolkit for enquiry and a alter ego who helps to raise self awareness and empathy.  The parallels between situations Jaz and Elfi are in and their own lives leads to powerful debate and discussions about thinking skills for different learning situations.’ Sarah Todd, Stanchester Community School, Somerset

‘Thinking Through School is an excellent approach to engage both students and staff in understanding what thinking skills are about and how the approaches are transferable in a range of contexts and subjects. The staff involved in actively using a range of approaches have been challenged in how they work but the initial outcomes for them and their students have been impressive. It supports the Leading in Learning (LIL) Secondary Strategy whole school initiative.

Teachers and LSAs have seen the potential to really engage learners and there have now been some significant developments and enhancements for all concerned.

It is helping to address the agenda of how to work with Year 7 and allowing the students to become more independent as learners. Also more importantly it is developing a learning partnership between teachers and students. It seeks to value student voice and their views from the start of High/Secondary School education.’ Rob Lodge, Secondary Strategy Adviser, Norfolk

‘Pupils found it really interesting and wanted to find out more. Thinking Through School enabled pupils to understand that if they were not motivated and interested, their best learning was not achieved. After one session using the resource, pupils were enthusiastically asking when they would be revisiting the book.’ Sue Atkinson, Southmoor Community School, Sunderland

ISBN: 1 899587 76 1

Published 2006

Authors: Anne de A Echevarria and David Leat