INTRODUCTION FOR SCHOOLS
Thank you for your interest in Got-A-Head®? and our Thinking Toolkit.
This slideshow gives you an overview of the features and benefits of our current products, along with a flavour of our future plans.
The tools, techniques and strategies that you might be most interested in are: Forget-Me-Nots®, REaLLY?®, QWERTY® and Story Spell®. You will find more detailed descriptions of all these products elsewhere on our website (just click on the links).
Forget-Me-Nots® don’t give learners the answer – they suggest patterns of thought or approaches (both cognitive and practical) that they can apply to any given situation. For instance:
In a brainstorming session, if ideas are a bit thin on the ground, introduce MORE Inspiration to remind pupils where they can find further ideas.
In a reading comprehension, if the learner needs to consider different characters, REL8 helps them think about a wide range of aspects of the relationship between them, making it easier for the learner to find the answer, and respond to it in an interesting and detailed way.
In maths, a pupil could use Whose Views? to think about why a question is worded in a particular way – is it a clue to solving it? This question from the Primary Maths Challenge 2014 is a good example.
When trying to decide between different options, pupils could use Give it a WhiRL! to help them make a decision, looking at whether something Works, whether it’s Right and if they Like it. This tool goes beyond the standard pros and cons to ask learners to consider their levels of emotional engagement, and the ethics or suitability of the plan.
Quizzical reminds pupils of the need for regular retrieval practice, and gets them to consider how best they could test themselves in order to make better progress.
That’s just five quick examples – we have over 30 Forget-Me-Nots®, which can be used individually, or in combination, to really up a learner’s game. Let us show you how. Or, you can look at some detailed case studies in our Reference Library.
REaLLY?® is an easy-to-use technique to ensure learners are clear about exactly what they are being asked to do, giving them support as they check for clues or guidelines (such as keywords to get them thinking in the right direction, or specific locations where they’ll find the answer), then reminds them of the need to plan their answer before starting to write.
For instance: these sample questions in English, Maths and History.
In its simplest form, REaLLY® acts as checklists for them so they can be sure that they have understood the task, that their planned answer is what the teacher or examiner is looking for, and that their final written answer has included everything they intended. It gives them the confidence to give more interesting answers, knowing that they tick all the relevant boxes.
QWERTY® is our staged thinking technique that is ideal for producing creative, high-quality projects and longer pieces of homework (e.g. slideshows, essays).
Suppose you wanted to create a 3-D model of a lighthouse, with a working electrical element in order to combine science and DT. QWERTY® helps ensure that all the practical elements are in place, while liberating learners to come up with more creative solutions.
Question outlines the specific remit (which could be done by the teacher, in the early stages).
Wonder is the blue-sky thinking element – encouraging the learner to come up with as many ideas as possible, without limits.
Explore introduces practicality to the process, using the Wonder ideas to come up with workable designs – which ideas would work best, how could they be combined into imaginative solutions, or how could any problems be solved.
Rank – deciding on the best solution to take forward, using different tools to give a balanced judgement.
.Target – the nuts and bolts of the project; helping the learner think about what tasks have to be done (and in which order), materials etc.
YaY! – evaluation and review, before the project is complete while they can still improve it, and afterward to learn from the experience.
Each stage of the QWERTY® technique can be done whole-class at the start, with the learner gradually taking ownership of the various stages as s/he becomes more familiar with them and how they work. Each stage can be enhanced by the judicious use of Forget-Me-Nots®, in an increasingly sophisticated way as the learner develops.
Using the QWERTY® approach lends itself to more creative approaches to a task – so instead of a kitchen roll painted plain white for the lighthouse, you might get a two-tone octagonal lighthouse set on rocks, with a little sandy cove and pier off to one side.
We have a range of case study documents available that show you how QWERTY® can be used in practice. You’ll find them in our Reference Library.
Story Spell® is all about helping pupils with their individual spelling problems. It links mnemonic techniques with imaginative storytelling to memorise the correct spelling of words that pupils consistently get wrong. Each letter or digraph has an image associated with it. The idea is to link those images into a story that will be easier to remember than individual letters:
Suppose Pupil A can never remember to put the ‘c’ in ‘conscious’ after the ‘s’. So: they picture themselves waking up (i.e. being conscious), as a spoon (‘s’) is pressed to their lips by a cat (‘c’) in a nurse’s uniform. The spoon is silver and cold to the touch; it contains cod liver oil, which smells (and tastes!) dreadful. The cat is a fluffy Burmese with big blue eyes; it is purring loudly.
Pupil B might have no problem remembering that pesky ‘c’ – his problem is the ‘iou’ combination. His story would look completely different – he would become conscious in an A&E ward and would put ice (‘i’) on his shoulder (‘ou’). He’s conscious of the antiseptic smell of the hospital, feel the cold ice as it is pressed into his sore shoulder through the rip in his rugby top.
The learners don’t have to spell out the entire word, only the letter(s) that is/are causing problems, often with the letter immediately before to give the link. They use their senses as much as possible to bring the story alive, adding details relevant to them – for instance they might picture their own cat, if they have one, or see themselves dressed in a rugby strip for their team. Adding humour or bizarre touches will make it even more likely that they will remember the story, and thus the spelling.
You’ll find a document with some more practical examples of how to use Story Spell® in our Reference Library.
The products in our Thinking Toolkit have clear benefits for the learner – they help them think better, so they do better, and thus feel better. Teachers benefit from them too – the high levels of personalisation and individualisation our products encourage mean learners are more engaged in what they are doing, and produce better work. The Thinking Toolkit also benefits the relationship between teacher and pupil – it is easier to understand the thinking process that is taking place for any task, which can lead to earlier intervention where required (lowering frustration/disappointment/negativity levels as a result) and enhancing communications between teacher and pupil as they have a clear language to describe the cognitive activity that is taking place.
“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework."
We have trialled these products with individual children and small groups local to us (Hertfordshire). In addition, we have introduced some of them to groups of children (8-11 and 11-14) and parents via Potential Plus UK, a charity that supports children with high learning potential. This has been done in the form of face-to-face workshops at their Big Family Weekend, as well as in multiple series of their online vPlus sessions. Here you can see some feedback we have received through our work for PPUK.
We are offering a free trial to schools and organisations interested in becoming early adopters of our methods. They would have access to a wide range of resources and we would work closely with them as they trial our products, supporting them in person, online or by phone and email, depending on their preference. We would discuss commercial terms when early adopters are ready to roll out our Thinking Toolkit on a larger scale
For these early adopters, we can offer
workshops directly with pupils to introduce our tools and techniques
training sessions for teachers, in person or online
ongoing staff CPD on how to use our products to good effect, or adapt them to a particular subject or curriculum
resource library of 'how-to' documents, and case studies such as the ones on the linked page. Please contact us for the access password (if you don't have it already)
resource materials, e.g. flashcards (physical cards and PPT versions), activity packs, ready-to-go lesson plans
Please do get in touch to discuss how we can help you help your pupils think better, do better and feel better.