This practical resource will enable you to develop personal, learning and thinking skills (PLTS) at Key Stage 3. Its easy-to-use format will help you to deliver the more complex PLTS component of the National Curriculum and offers a new dimension to teaching and learning. Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills at Key Stage 3 provides you with a flexible framework to work within and offers examples without being prescriptive.
Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills at Key Stage 3 will:
Give you the information you need to help you define your own PLTS curriculum that best suits the needs of your class/school.
Help you to embed personal, learning and thinking skills across subjects and throughout your school culture.
Empower your students with a range of thinking skills that they can draw from when needed.
Equip your students with essential life skills such as planning and reviewing, managing impulses and persisting.
Develop your students into independent, skilful thinkers with a selection of thinking tools to help them succeed and achieve.
Summary of contents
Each chapter of Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills at Key Stage 3 is designed to take teachers and their students from simple understandings towards sophisticated applications of PLTS. Chapters 1-3 of the book are formed of 30 lesson plans and resources for use at Key Stage 3.
Each lesson plan has:
a detailed framework
suggested learning outcomes
a list of resources required
As well as a detailed plan, each lesson has two or more learning activities, which can be photocopied, for students to progress through. Guidance is given on the types of expected learning outcomes, through examples of completed activity sheets. This will help you to understand exactly what each student should have achieved by the end of the lesson.
The introduction includes information on:
how this resource works
how to teach personal, learning and thinking skills
step-by-step guidance on what you need to think about before getting started. This concentrates on:
deciding the scale and sequence of PLTS in your school
understanding the pieces of the PLTS puzzle and the bigger picture
learning about each piece and seeing its value and potential
infusing personal, learning and thinking skills across subjects and throughout the school culture
assessing and self-assessing personal, learning and thinking skills.
Chapter 1: Personal skills
Chapter 1 focuses on personal skills and first answers the question ‘What are personal skills?’. The aims of this chapter are to help you teach a wider range of personal and social skills that will benefit students in their learning and in life. There are 10 lessons in this section focusing on the following subjects:
Managing time and making priorities – this lesson gives students opportunities to learn how to set priorities and effectively manage their time.
Listening to learn, learning to listen – in this lesson, students learn that listening is an important skill, and one that many people lack.
Enhancing memory skills – each student is challenged to assess his or her memory recall skills by doing a memory recall exercise. They then go on to learn strategies to help them to remember facts.
Working cooperatively – students explore how working cooperatively is essential to the success of all groups, from classrooms to sports teams, families, and colleagues.
Thinking positively – students explore the value of thinking positively.
Being resilient – students learn the importance of resilience in achieving goals and are encouraged to consider situations in which they tried to accomplish a goal and failed.
Making good decisions – in this lesson, students learn that although they don’t have a magical machine to help them make good decisions, they can use a process for making good decisions.
Communicating clearly – students get to laugh at the funny results that unclear communication sometimes produces.
Self-assessment – students learn how to use a rubric to evaluate themselves. They learn how the creation of a specific rubric can help them identify realistic levels of progress towards a specified goal.
Making it happen: achieving my goals – in this lesson, students make more progress towards the goal they outlined in the previous lesson. They clarify their intentions and talk about the mental aspects of accomplishing a goal.
Chapter 2: Learning skills
The lessons in this chapter teach students how to become learners above and beyond any one subject area. Students gain skills to develop their capacity as learners across the curriculum; from one year to the next; inside school and in the world beyond. The lesson plans in this section focus on:
Planning, doing, reviewing (metacognition) - students take a close look at techniques for solving a puzzle to begin thinking about metacognition and learn about a specific metacognitive process – planning, doing, reviewing, which helps them to understand how thinking about the thinking process can help them improve their studies.
Managing impulses – in this lesson, students learn the importance of managing impulses to make sure they don’t end up in a situation they really didn’t want.
Persisting – in this lesson, students explore the value of persisting. They begin with a puzzle that may seem illogical at first. By trying different strategies on their own or with your guidance, students will soon learn that the puzzle was easy to solve.
Taking responsible risks – this activity helps students to formulate an understanding of responsible versus irresponsible risks by considering the outcomes of their actions.
Linking learning past and present – students are led to understand the value of making connections between the past and present when learning.
How do I learn best? – students learn about kinaesthetic, aural, and visual learning styles and try out each method in order to identify which feels most comfortable to them. They learn that people often have very different preferences for learning.
Being independent and aiming high – students get an opportunity in this lesson to survey themselves to determine their core skills, strengths and interests.
Learning together – in this lesson, students learn how to partner and collaborate with a larger team of people for feedback. The lesson ends with an examination of how such practices can help them do better classwork.
Learning is piecing together – for this lesson, students use the analogy of a puzzle to think about the way they learn.
Becoming an independent enquirer – in this lesson, skills students have learned and tools students have used to further their learning are put together in one object: the Thinking Wheel.
Chapter 3: Thinking skills
The lessons in this chapter will help you to develop the cognitive processing involved in learning. While there is no doubt that your students will arrive at Key Stage 3 with the ability to think, what we are aiming for is to develop independent, skilful thinking. This means students can lead the selection of thinking tools to help them achieve. The lessons in chapter 3 focus on:
Higher-order thinking – in this lesson, students learn that there are different levels of thinking. Students begin exploring what they think about thinking, by ranking a series of tasks related to summer. They rank these tasks according to the most difficult type of thinking involved.
Thinking detectives – analysing – two different activities end with a comparison of each to Bloom’s Taxonomy so students can see how they used higher-order thinking skills in each situation.
Thinking detectives – evaluating – after a series of activities students do a short quiz to help them distinguish between analysing and evaluating.
Thinking detectives – questions and questioning – using a simple matching activity, students see how Bloom’s Taxonomy can be used to create high quality questions.
Thinking detectives – questions and questioning on the internet – in this information age, students learn the importance of evaluating information they receive from the internet and e-mail messages.
Thinking detectives – sorting and sequencing – in this lesson students see that the way something is sequenced depends on what needs to happen.
Thinking detectives – causes and consequences – this lesson teaches students that causes are not always immediately obvious. They also learn to use a tool for analysing an event to carefully identify short- and long-term causes and consequences.
Thinking Sparks – the creative springboard – students experience the creative process from two perspectives: that of creative thinker and that of observer.
Thinking Sparks – SCAMPER – this lesson focuses on getting students to see things in a creative new light. They begin by identifying a favourite childhood toy and bringing it to class and redesigning it.
Feedback – feedforward – in this final lesson, students consolidate what they have learned in this programme in two important ways. First, they practise translating what they have learned through positive feedback, constructive criticism, and failed attempts into fodder for future growth and improvement. Next, they use an expanded version of the Thinking Wheel to apply a variety of lessons learned while seeking to accomplish an extended project.
Chapter 4: Infusing PLTS across the curriculum
Chapter 4 explores how to develop PLTS across the curriculum. Whether a school decides to teach PLTS as a timetabled part of the week or to deliver these skills via different subject areas, all teachers need to infuse PLTS throughout their teaching. This chapter includes:
subject examples of PLTS infusion
planning templates to build PLTS into subjects
mapping tools to plan progression of PLTS across Key Stage 3
examples of a shared language of learning.
Chapter 5: Assessing personal, learning and thinking skills
The assessment of PLTS allows some flexibility for schools. This chapter shows how schools can design a customised assessment system to meet their needs and expectations. It is essential at this stage to help students take a lead in assessing and planning for improvement across the skills. To support schools in developing their own assessment schedules of PLTS, this chapter includes:
blank templates for students and teachers to design their own rubrics for specific tasks
a passport for learning to encourage students to make links and connections between the personal, learning and thinking skills