I tried out some P4C (Philosophy for Children) last year and was very impressed with the response. I want to do it more widely and more regularly this year, but want to deal with a couple of niggles I had about how I did it last year.
Luckly, I work with the wonderful Peter Llewellyn who is bit of P4C Guru at our school, so I went to him for a bit of a refresher. I thought I’d share my notes here, in case they’re of use to anyone else.
1. Make sure you’ve covered the idea of philosophical questions ahead of time. (I’m going to be using the list of questions that Will Ord has on his website – follow the link and click ‘questions and Socrates’ from the right hand menu.)

2. Make sure you get the stimulus right

3. Start by getting an emotional reaction to the stimulus

4. Give a set amount of time (3 mins) in silence for each person to come up with their own question

5. Pair students up and get them to share their questions. Get the students to select the better question.

6. Put the pairs together into 4s. Repeat the selection process

7. Add each groups question to the board. Give the option for any wild card questions (anyone who thinks theirs, or someone else’s in the group is good enough to be on the board)

8. By blind vote select the question. Give each student two votes, which they can either split between two questions, or double up on one.

9. Allow the person who asked the question to introduce it. Step back.

Pete also mentioned the idea of giving specific roles to members of the group to help facilitate the discussion.

I’ll let you know how I get on with it!

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Rebooting my teaching – How?

In the last post I looked at the background to the reasons to my decision to reboot my teaching. In this one I’m going to explain a little more about how I’m going to be changing my teaching.The first thing to accept is that as grand as I may be making this out to be (and there are moments when I’m struck with some kind of almighty dread about this), what I’m proposing isn’t a million miles away from what I’ve been doing in the past. Rather, I’m trying to put the things I’ve been doing here and there at the centre of my teaching, and find some new glue to hold it all together. Here are the main ingredients from which I plan to try and create my lessons this year.

Project Based Learning.
This is something I’m working towards. There are practical limitations on hitting all 7 of the ideas contained in this article for example, but in particular I’d like my lessons to be:

  • As real as possible to students in terms of outcomes
  • Tied together by some kind of driving question / inquiry question
  • Give the students a voice in the shaping of the final outcomes
  • Include opportunities for feedback and improvement
I’ll talk in a future post about some of the early ideas I’ve got for thatICT
In particular I’m trying to create a ‘virtual classroom’ to continue the community beyond the hour blocks we spend together. With Key Stage 4 and 5 classes (14-18 year olds) I’m using Edmodo. I’ve used (and will continue to use) Moodle, but there is no doubt that Edmodo provides more of a sense of community and less of the idea of a depository of resources. At Key Stage 3 I’ve created a class blog. In the first instance I’m using this to post homework, but I’m hoping that before too long we’ll be using to post examples of students work, and handing over control of what we put on there to the students from each class.

Physical Space
A few years ago I was at a seminar at Apple in London where the speaker referenced a paper that talked about various ‘learning spaces’ and their digital equivants. The author defined these as ‘Camp Fires, Watering Holes and Caves’ (you can read the paper here).
This was one of those ideas that got filed away as ‘interesting but not very practical’, until I saw towards the end of last year Bianca writing about her use of physical space using the same metaphors.
So, at the end of last year I arranged to have all the cupboards and storage bar two removed from my room, freeing up a lot of space. I’ve already started experimenting with this space, and plan to introduce the ‘learning spaces’ concept to students once we start out first project. My only worry is whether my old tables will cope with being moved around fairly regularly!

Philosophy for Children (P4C)
I tried this a couple of times last year and it convinced me that this should be a key part of my new approach. I’m lucky to work with an excellent P4C practitioner who I’ve already been to for tips, so I’m planning on trying to build at least one community of enquiry lesson into each term. I’ll try and share some more P4C ideas in a future post

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