What teaching strategies can improve children’s reasoning skills?

Research
Borthwick and Cross (2018) evaluated several definitions of reasoning and concluded:
Reasoning is a subset of thinking… it is about finding reasons for things, making decisions, considering cause and effect, wondering, “What is the reason for this happening?”

M.T. Battista highlights: “To use mathematics to make sense of the world, students must first make sense of mathematics.” In order to understand concepts, procedures and symbols, students need instructional tasks which ask appropriate questions, guided classroom discussions, understanding student’s reasoning and assess students’ learning progress.

Frank Williams (1969) carried out research in 1969 and identified 8 modes of creative thinking. This research showed how important it is to understand the difference between thinking and reasoning questions, pose questions which require thinking and questions that solve problems.

Research from NCETM(2013) identified some key themes regarding reasoning: the importance of making sense of concepts; appropriate questioning to facilitate learning; guided discussions; assessing learning and progress; identifying misconceptions.

Research from Third Space Learning(2017) highlighted the importance of the teacher being a facilitator and not the arbiter of truth when speaking to the class, e.g. they should say “Prove it” or “Convince me “ instead of saying “You’re right.”

Actions:
1) Mind map: reasoning big picture in order to spark interest in termly topics; build on children’s thinking and understanding; open-ended questions which will allow children to use reasoning strategies across the curriculum.
How effective is RUCSAC in developing reasoning skills?
2) See plan, do, check: Children to use this strategy to solve problems –
• See: It enables the children to see the problem in their own terms.
• Plan: Selecting a problem-solving strategy, e.g. will they need any resources to help them?
• Do: Carrying out the plan, e.g. follow and approach – is it effective/efficient?
• Check: Reflect on what you have done, e.g. Do you need a fix-up strategy?

3) Green for growth: Draw it, describe it, explain it
The children will self-evaluate against the LO in a range of ways.
Additional measures:
• Teacher questionnaire – Y5 & 6 teachers to answer baseline questions.
• Parent involvement – send home problem-solving strategies with question stems.

Thank you!

Years 5 and 6

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