Published on January 17, 2008
Slide1: Llandaff City C/W Primary School. Higher order thinking skills’ projects. The last few years have seen our school develop a range of strategies to provide for the more able child. A recent development has been ‘higher order thinking skills’ projects. (HOTS) The projects vary in length from three to five days and are designed to develop the higher order thinking skills of ANALYSIS SYNTHESIS EVALUATION What follows is a description of the Y5 Ithaca project. It happened in a mixed ability class of 31 children during the first week of the Easter term. The children returned to school on the Wednesday and the project was completed by the Friday of the same week. Slide2: Ithaca When you set out on your journey to Ithaca, pray that the road is long, full of adventure, full of knowledge. The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops, the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them: You will never find such as these on your path, if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine emotion touches your spirit and your body. The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops, the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter, if you do not carry them within your soul, if your soul does not set them up before you. The work began with a Community of Enquiry to discuss the poem ‘Ithaca’ by C P Cavafy. The class sits in a large circle and the pupils work in groups of three. Slide3: Pray that the road is long. That the summer mornings are many, when, with such pleasure, with such joy you will enter ports seen for the first time; stop at Phoenician markets, and purchase fine merchandise, mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony, and perfumes of all kinds, visit many Egyptian cities, to learn and learn from scholars. Slide4: Always keep Ithaca in your mind. To arrive there is your ultimate goal. But do not hurry the voyage at all. It is better to let it last for many years; and to anchor at the island when you are old, rich with all you have gained on the way, not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches. Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage. Without her you would have never set out on the road. She has nothing more to give you. And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you. Wise as you have become, with so much experience, you must already have understood what Ithacas mean. Slide5: Who is Poseidon? Why is he angry? Who is Cyclops? Who are the Lestrygonians? What are scholars? What is ebony? The first set of questions in this type of work always relate to meaning of words the children don’t understand. Slide6: Each group works together to discuss what they’d like to know and often children within the group are able to share knowledge and understanding. Then, in turn, the groups ask questions aloud to the class. After these questions were answered, the children were shown children’s versions of the Odyssey and told about Odysseus and his journey home to Ithaca. Then, they went on to discuss in their groups what further questions and ideas they would like to put to the class. Some of the questions discussed were……. Slide7: What is Ithaca? Is Ithaca a country? Slide8: Children exchange ideas, disagree with each other and offer alternative views. Gradually, the meaning of the poem began to emerge. Finally, the question that you hope would be asked was voiced. Are we all able to reach an Ithaca? The children were then set a challenge. Slide9: Your mission (and you have to accept it!) is to journey to your ‘Ithaca’. You need to work out what your Ithaca is but a very important task will be to report on the journey you take to find it. You will need to reflect on Who were your ‘Lestrygonians’, your Cyclops your Poseidon and how you overcame them. What were the wonderful experiences you had on those summer mornings when you entered Phoenician markets. What riches you gathered on the way and who and what helped you gain more wisdom. Slide10: After discussing in their groups the children finally came back with these ideas. Ithacas To make everyone in the class laugh in a five minute presentation on Friday Two adventure stories based on the Ithaca theme, but set in space. Two plays. To compose, score and perform a short piece of music. To design and make a maze on the Ithaca theme. To draw an imaginary animal and write a story about it. Slide11: Their ‘journeys’ to Ithaca began in earnest on the Wednesday afternoon, continued all day on the Thursday and on Friday morning. Friday afternoon was devoted to the ‘performances’ and for the children to reflect on the experience. It was a busy two and half days. Five of the groups worked independently throughout, the others needing some support, mainly to help them work through differences of opinions. It was good to see the way the children called on each others expertise with some children taking time out of their groups to help in other groups. Two groups involved their families who helped them make costumes at home. At times there were moments of frustration for the children when some wanted to give up. However, they came into school on Friday morning with a tremendous sense of determination to reach their Ithaca by midday. And all groups did, except for one of the saga writing groups who didn’t quite finish their epic, but this was turned to good effect at the end of their presentation when the children were asked how they thought the story should develop. The first session on Friday afternoon saw each group present their work to the class. Slide12: These were two of the group of children who wanted to make everyone in the class laugh. Initial ideas of a joke telling session foundered when they realised that not all children ‘get’ jokes. They did a survey of what the children found funny and visual humour scored highly. They put on a spoof fashion show for pantomime characters, and yes, they did make everyone laugh. Slide13: This group designed and constructed a 3D maze with problem solving activities to complete. Slide14: This group wrote and performed a play called Cinderella with a Difference. This Cinderella was bossy (she ruled the Ugly Sisters with a rod of iron) and very opinionated and the prince asked one of her sisters to marry him instead. Slide15: These children wrote and illustrated an epic saga (10 pages long) entitled ‘Journey to Candy Planet’. The story was well structured and well written. Two of the boys were glad of the opportunity of writing a really long story instead of the usual one or two pages in a writing lesson. Slide16: These were the children who drew the imaginary animal and wrote a story about her. The original drawing was about 10cm square and part of their challenge was to ‘blow it up’ to be as big as they could make it. Slide17: After break, the children were asked to reflect on what they had achieved during the week and here are some of their thoughts. Slide20: Children’s viewpoints six months later. I thought it was very exciting. It was interesting to get into. It was good because I like a change. I really liked it because in our group we could use our English and art skills. It was a challenge and I needed a challenge. I loved it because it was something different. It was the best because we had to read, write, draw and act. It was a challenge to work so quickly. I really enjoyed watching the other presentations. Slide21: I liked the Ithaca work. It was really fun because we worked together as a team. We all liked doing the maze and bringing in things from home. Even though it was a bit embarrassing to perform it to the class it was worth it. I think it was a good idea to start it off with a poem. Amy-Rose The Ithaca work was good because we worked together really well. We got on well with each other. The maze was really good with the shiny green for the bushes. You had to make your way to the castle and there were some trap doors with snakes and bears. In the end you find the castle, open the door and there is your treasure. Andrea. The project went well, and it’s one that would be worth repeating with another class next year. Children with strong linguistic, visual and musical skills were allowed the freedom to explore their particular strengths and interests. But it was an inclusive project too, and all children of all abilities were able to contribute to the work. Children with good interpersonal skills flourished that week too. Two more able ‘linguistic’ girls also revealed themselves as excellent leaders and motivators in their particular groups.