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Split-screen thinking

Duration: 07:12

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Kelburn Normal School based their split-screen thinking model on Guy Claxton's work - looking at two processes or multi-processes at once.

The teachers get us to think about how we learn, which is really big. If you know how you learn then you can adapt, you can teach yourself because you know you can do it. It really opens up a lot more things that you can do, and you can learn a lot more.




The teachers get us to think about how we learn, which is really big. If you know how you learn then you can adapt, you can teach yourself because you know you can do it. It really opens up a lot more things that you can do, and you can learn a lot more.


We have based our split-screen thinking model on Guy Claxton’s work, and it goes back to what we are trying to do with learning conversations. The split-screen thinking itself is looking at two processes or multi-processes at once. Many staff have moved on from just the split-screen thinking as two columns into several columns. As people get more familiar with that process, I think it happens incidentally.

We are looking at how the student learns and what they are actually learning, and that is a split-screen process in itself. And also that the students are actually using terminology within their discussions and learning conversations as well; and actually identifying ‘how they learn as a learner is called (we call it) learnacy’ and ‘the things they are actually learning is obviously the learning’. And so students refer to it as learnacy and learning. Although ‘learnacy’ isn’t really a word it is something that is catchy for the kids and they have embraced that within their conversations.

The split-screen thinking helps teachers think explicitly about making direct links to previous things that have happened in the class – discussions, texts used with students, and also bringing in the forward-thinking and backward-thinking, and reflection within the class lesson. And in classes where the teachers are very used to using this, and comfortable with it, you can actually see this happening in lessons all the time, and it’s simultaneously; and it’s not ‘let’s stop now and reflect on what’s happened’, it’s right through the lesson and not actually putting them in separate times of the day.

Teacher, Charles Bisley

When we were looking at embedding the new curriculum, we knew it had to start from what teachers were already doing. So we wanted to look at teaching practices that involved reflection and the learning area at the same time. We wanted to look at the old division between process and content; we wanted to see were teachers were already doing that. One example, of course is social studies, and the process that went with that, inquiry learning. Science to a certain extent, thinking about scientific method is another example of the process-content split. But actually we wanted to look at it in literacy, something that could be used right throughout the school and we could see if it was occurring within the social context of learning? Where is it being constructed? Do we have a ZPD? Is all of that occurring? 

So we came up with a really good way of introducing it, that was using the meta-cognitive reading strategy – reciprocal reading, which is a strategy that we use with students who don’t know what to do when they get loss of meaning in comprehension. How do you provide these strategies? It’s a group strategy, a strategy that empowers students to work co-operatively in groups. It comes out of co-operative learning. A lot of teachers at school knew it and were already doing it, and it gave them the idea that reflection was something that occurs throughout learning, not just beforehand, not just afterwards. Zen saying: ‘There are three times to shout in battle, once beforehand, once during and once after’ – so that idea of reflection is available at any point during learning to power-up learning was the beginning, and reciprocal reading was our example. That’s how we started off with split-screen thinking.

If teaching is going to be inquiry we made a model to a theorist or thinker – in this case, Guy Claxton, who has split-screen thinking. Now all teachers know process-content, but Guy Claxton had come up with a nicely articulated model of reflection as being a four-stage process: planning, adapting, distilling and reviewing. As with reciprocal reading, where we could see a four-stage process of predicting, clarifying, summarising and questioning. We thought it corresponds beautifully with Claxton’s four-stage model. We could say you are already doing it in reciprocal reading, so lets explore other things like writing. Let’s think about story telling, drama, other subjects – have we got a model of reflection that gives us reflection in learning, before learning and after learning? That’s where split-screen started – as a way of our teachers reflecting about learning processes.

The way we use split-screen in our planning was for example, if we were planning a literacy unit, and we might say that during this unit there are a number of key competencies we want to encourage. So on one side we would have the lesson sequence and the activities to do with the learning area, in this case, language and writing reports. On the other side we would unpack the key competencies that we were looking at to show in which part of the lesson sequence was that key competency found to be relevant? Always of course relating it to the other key competencies in our learning triangle.

The key thing though that is most important is when we come to the lesson with the students. The way in which you can use the tool – of splitting learning in two – is a really good conceptual tool with students. So they like the idea of thinking of their learning in two different ways – as a process and in terms of its content. They like that as well and they like switching from one role to the other, a thinking role to another. And then at the end of the lesson especially you can say ‘let’s think back, let’s think forward’ and they like that idea and get that out of the split screen. Thinking back and thinking forward is one of the key things, and in reciprocal reading too! So the discussions we have become very purposeful too because they know that part of the whole lesson was a learning theme that you also introduced to them during the lesson.

Updated on: 14 Feb 2010