Students need to be motivated to learn by engaging their interest and setting an appropriate challenge. Use images, video clips, pieces of writing etc etc to hook them in to the learning.Whet their appetites by explaining how they will present their findings in a novel and interesting way.
Students should then collect the information before they start to process it. The ideal here is to spend less time gathering information and more time thinking and processing it. To this end, it is sometimes worth giving them the information sources to sort, highlight, condense etc.
This is where students start to order the new information they have acquired, normally using one of the following: Classifying, grouping, sorting, setting, matching, sequencing, annotating. It is crucial that this stage is regarded as a means to an end, not the end itself!
This involves students making meaning of the information they have processed. By working things out for themselves, as far as they can, the students are far more likely to learn ‘deeply’. It is helpful here if you can introduce some fresh ideas into the mix, to add interest and to move students thinking on. This might be a different interpretation, a new document with an intersting slant, or perhaps a short video clip.
At this point you will want to help students to improve, or just refine, their earlier ideas. Often this will involve modelling examples of how other people (textbooks, video, model answers etc) have answered the question. This is not about imposing a tight writing frame, but rather it is giving the students insights into what features and qualities their work might possess. This might be the right time to look at mark schemes and assessment criteria.
The final stage is when the students present their findings, hopefully in varied and imaginative ways. If an important part of thinking skills is creativity, then this offers excellent opportunities to allow students to come up with imaginative ideas for presenting their findings. Wherever possible try to make the writing varied.
Thanks to Catherine Renwick (History Subject Leader) for an engaging 15 minute forum