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Mackenzie College – Thinking skills

Students explain the process used to find out about the 'thinking' skills needed in order to learn and how Mackenzie College could provide for this.

Some year 9 and 10 students at Mackenzie College have had a big say in the design of their school’s curriculum.

What thinking skills are needed to learn?

In term two of 2009, eleven students identified as 'gifted and talented' worked together over several one- and two-hour sessions themed around 'knowing themselves better as learners'. This included brief exposure to Habits of Mind, De Bono’s Hats, brain structure and function, and the key competencies.

At the start of term 3 they were ready for a challenge, and the following task was developed with the students.

To research and provide one or more possible answers to the following questions and report findings to teachers, parents, and the BOT early in term 4:

  • What thinking skills do students need to learn?
  • How can we best provide that learning for year 9 and 10 students at Mackenzie College?

Aspects of creative problem solving were used to help guide the students through to presentation day in mid November.

Types of thinking

A considerable amount of time was spent exploring types of thinking. Students worked individually and in groups to develop their own understanding of each type. Ideas were exchanged using a wiki, and eventually four types of thinking were agreed on as inclusive of the huge list the students generated:

  • Metacognitive
  • Analytical
  • Logical
  • Lateral (creative) thinking

The acronym MALL emerged as a happy coincidence, which was adopted by all.

PowerPoint icon. Four types of thinking (PowerPoint, 116 KB)

The students agreed that they needed to learn more about these types of thinking before they could confidently move to a wider stage.

"We need to have a good definition and real-life examples before we will be able to know these (types of thinking) when we see them."

Mini lessons, which had to include definitions, examples, a slogan for each thinking type and a learning activity, were devised and presented in the group to assist with this.

Evidence collection and recommendations

It was then time to have a look around and see what was going on in the school and in a wider field. The evidence collecting stage included:

  • devising and using a  PDF icon. Lesson audit document (PDF, 45 KB)  in classes at the school
  • interviewing the principal about his priorities
  • a look at the wider world by visiting University of Canterbury, CPIT, and Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti in Christchurch
  • reading around the topic to see what some experts were saying, and creating a  PDF icon. Reading report (PDF, 94 KB)

All students were involved in at least one classroom visit and other responsibilities were shared around the group, fitting around the students' class programmes.

The findings and recommendations were very well received by the audience and are now being used to inform staff discussion.

PowerPoint icon. Recommendations (PowerPoint, 100 KB)

Juliet Martin, Gifted and Talented Advisor, and Lesley Brown, Leadership Advisor, provided excellent ideas and support in developing this project.

gifted and talented
key competencies
learning to learn

Updated on: 23 Nov 2009