Thinking Classroom
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How is one book making children excited about Science and Math at this school?

At a time when schools were adapting themselves to online learning, some schools decided to raise the teaching in their classroom by several notches. They looked beyond fancy technologies and look at how learning should happen. They implemented a workbook called Thinking Classroom in their school.  

GEAR Innovative International School, Bangalore is one such school. In the city of with 250+ CBSE schools, GEAR stands out for treating every child as special. The school is known for constantly innovating.

The school started using Open Door's Thinking Classroom about 2 years ago.

We spoke with the teachers, students and the management of GEAR InternationalInnovative School to understand their experience of Open Door’s ThinkingClassroom. And, we were in for a pleasant surprise! If you just have 2min, watch this video:

 

Here are the key impact of Open Door at GEAR:

1.    Children are more excited about Science and Math

2.    Children have developed divergent thinking

3.    Teachers have started generating innovative teaching ideas

So, What is Thinking Classroom?

The best way to understand Thinking Classroom book is to look at the question below:

In the above question, the children are being asked to design the diet for Virat Kohli before a cricket match. Instead of teaching children standard examples of proteins and carbohydrates, the children will take a decision on their own about the utility of proteins and carbohydrates thereby understanding the concept much better.

Thinking Classroom is a workbook developed by Open Door with many interesting questions. The questions are designed to help children to better appreciate Science and Math concepts. ThinkingClassrooms helps teachers with two things:

1.    Find Science and Math amazing: For example, in Thinking Classroom children would be asked: ‘How would the world look if water was NOT colourless?’. Instead of accepting that ‘Water is colourless’, children imagine the difficulties we would face if water had colour. This helps children find science and math concepts amazing!

2.    Encourage slow thinking: Children are normally quick to arrive at an answer. With the help of Thinking Classroom books, teachers encourage reflection and exploration in their classroom. When teachers use Thinking Classroom books, children need to write down their answers in the workbook. This provides children sufficient time to think. This habit of slow thinking can children become more innovative in the future.

Thinking Classroom workbooks are effective when they are used well by teachers. And, we found that the teachers of GEAR International Innovative School,Bangalore are using the workbooks very well. 

How does GEAR School, Bangalore implement Thinking Classroom books along with their teaching?

Initially, teachers wondered how they would accommodate the questions in their teaching. But, they found a solution to that. These are some of the ways in which the teachers implemented the program at their school:

1.     Use it to begin a topic:

Let’s take the example of this question: How will the world change if humans could do photosynthesis?

When a Biology teacher asked this question, it opens up the thinking of children. According to the biology teacher, she received a diverse set of responses. In the process, children appreciated the concept of photosynthesis.

Here is another example:

 

Why do some animals lick the wall?

The teachers use this question to add an element of surprise while introducing atopic.

2.     After teaching a topic: For Reinforcement

These questions are perfect for adding one more layer of understanding to students’ understanding.

3.     Design class activities based on questions in the book. Some examples:

-Joints activity: asking children find which joints in the room are similar to body joints

- Children making circuit diagrams based on the Qs in the book

- Extend toothpaste question to marketing technique

4.     Helps teachers create different type of questions: Some teachers designed activities based on the questions, for.e.g a teacher made an ice cream cone activity based on types of numbers.

How does Thinking Classroom help students? Listen from the teachers themselves.

 

Here are some statements from the teachers of this school:

A.    These workbooks have developed divergent thinking in children

B.    Thinking Classroom builds slow and thoughtful thinking

C.    Children learn to apply known concepts in unfamiliar situations

D.    We receive many different answers from children

E.     These books create an element of surprise for children

F.     These workbooks have developed thinking in children

G.    Thinking Classroom has taken classroom environment to a higher level

One teacher mentioned how when she gave a question to children, there was a complete silence. It was amazing to watch children in a thinking mode!

How are Open Door’s questions different from other resources?

Teachers mention that the questions in Thinking Classroom books are different from the questions in other resources. They encourage children to apply concepts to real life situations.

One of the teachers mentions how she discussed a question on calculating areas of different alphabets. She mentioned how many children started calculating areas of other alphabets.

A teacher even made an activity out of a question on Chemical & Physical change.

What do students think?

 

 

Here are some statements from the students:

-      Thinking Classroom helps us think out of the box – Joshitha

-      Thinking Classroom help us know if we have understood or not - Joshitha

-      These books make concepts a whole lot easier – Ananya

-      We use our mind and increases our intellectual skills – Nandini

-      We learn concepts in an innovative way and not just memorise – Arushi

-      These questions make us think in a better way. Questions are fun – Kritan

-      Even a 0 looks like a heart (shadows) – Nandini

-      These books cleared my concepts – Aarushi

-      I learned about plants better – Joshitha

-      In Thinking Classroom books, you cannot find the answer easily. The questions are upside down, you need to think. – Ananya and Joshitha

-      The questions are from a different point of view. Question that made me feel that water is very very special - Kritan

 

Words from the school director, Mr. Sarvesh Srinivasan

Thinking Classroom complements our philosophy of making children think and apply theconcepts they learned.

We realized that your questions helps us reflect on our teaching. It also provides a sparkto teachers to generate new questions in school tests. Teachers are using theplatform and thinking above that!

Our progressive teachers value Thinking Classroom a lot!  

WritTEN BY

Aneesh Bangia

Aneesh Bangia is the co-founder of Open Door. He writes about the past, present and future of education.

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