Designing Effective Projects : Teaching Thinking
Example of Teaching Thinking in the Intermediate Phase Classroom

Teaching Thinking to Intermediate Phase Learners
In Meet the Bears* (original project - unadapted) learners look at bears from all angles and apply maths and measurement skills to compare themselves with their furry friends. Learners show what they have learned about bears by completing research on a particular bear species and then summarizing the information in a brochure to be distributed at the local zoo.

Thinking Skills Mini-Lesson: Fiction or Non-Fiction
At the beginning of this project, learners are asked to look at a mixed set of books about bears and determine if they are fiction or non-fiction.

“We have a big pile of books here about bears. There are two different kinds of books. Some are fiction and some are non-fiction. Fiction books are imaginary and not true. Non-fiction books are scientific and are true. I’m going to look through some books and tell you what I’m thinking about while I decide if they are fiction or non-fiction.

“Well, in this book, the bears are living in a house and wearing clothes. That means it’s imaginary because bears don’t live in houses or wear clothes. That’s what people do, not bears. In this other book, a bear is catching a fish. There are also pictures of different bears with their names underneath like brown bear or polar bear. That looks like a scientific book so it’s non-fiction. In this book, it says ‘Bobby the bear was walking down the road whistling a little tune.’ I know that’s fiction because bears don’t whistle.

“I’ve put a pile of books on each of your tables. I want you to look at the books with your group and make two piles, one with the fiction books and one with the non-fiction books. For each pile make a list of why you put the books in that pile.”

The teacher works with learners as they sort the books then follows the activity with a discussion.

“Now that you have two piles, did you have any disagreements about whether a book was fiction or non-fiction?”

“There was one book where the bear was acting like a bear by growing and living in the woods, but the story was made up. Is that fiction or non-fiction?”

“That’s a good question. A book doesn’t have to have animals acting like humans to be fiction. A made-up story can have bears that act like real bears in it. Let’s look at a fiction book with realistic bears and a non-fiction book. I’ll tell you what I’m thinking while I look at the books."

“This book has writing in paragraphs and sentences. It also has conversation. Both of the books have pictures, but the pictures in this one have labels. I think the first book is a story with characters and a plot so it’s fiction. The other book tells information about bears like how big they are and what they eat so it’s non-fiction."

“Sometimes you can tell just by looking at a picture if a book is fiction or non-fiction, can’t you. But sometimes you have to look more carefully. When you’re writing a report that is non-fiction, you should get your information from non-fiction books because that is more reliable.”


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