Let’s Think in English primary programme consists of a suite of high-interest lessons which are intended to be used fortnightly from Year 1 to Year 6. They are largely oral, based on reading, open-ended questioning and structured group discussion which increases pupils’ reasoning skills and metacognition (structured reflection). This makes pupils more aware of their thinking processes and how they think most effectively.
Lessons develop pupils’ ability to provide reasoned justifications for their views, predict, summarise and draw inferences when reading texts. Furthermore, through LTE pupils identify how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning, examine authors’ choice of language and other stylistic features and consider the purpose of the text. Pupils develop their higher-order reading skills (and subsequently writing) through group discussion and sharing their views.
Let’s Think in English primary programme supports a mastery curriculum. Pupils are provided with structured challenges where they develop their reasoning with the support of their peers while the teacher helps deepen their reasoning through mediation. LTE believes mastery can only be understood in terms of the development of cognition.
Over 150 schools from Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Devon, London, Hampshire, Norfolk, Rochdale in the UK as well as International schools in Hong Kong, Switzerland and Vietnam are using the programme. Training is available for individual schools or clusters of schools.
Let’s Think in English primary training is based on effective professional development and is specifically designed to enhance teaching and learning. It is centered on exemplar lessons, classroom practice and collaborative reflection. Teacher evaluations of the programme have shown significant gains in all aspects of teaching, but particularly in providing appropriate challenges for the more capable students, implementing alternative strategies in their classrooms, helping their students think critically, and adjusting their lessons to an appropriate level for individual students. Teachers believe the programme makes them more thoughtful and confident.
Let’s Think in English is a long-term teacher development programme and upon completion of introductory training schools are invited to join the primary Let’s Think in English Network. This meets each term at King’s College London to share experience of teaching Let’s Think in English and work on new ideas and approaches. There are also a growing number of other geographical hubs.
If you would like further information on the primary programme, should please contact Michael Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
For examples of LTE lessons to download and try, please go to Sample Lessons.
What primary teachers say:
Due to the emphasis on collaborative discussion, children in my class who usually find English difficult were able to participate in the lesson, leading to improved focus, motivation and self-esteem. I also saw a positive effect on the children outside of LTE lessons: they were better able to identify connections between texts and seemed to have a more solid understanding of genre; their analysis of texts (especially in the run up to the SATS) became more sophisticated and, most impressively of all, they gained more ownership over their learning, looking first to their group for help through guided discussion before coming to me.
I also saw an improvement in my pedagogy after attending the training. I thought I used group work effectively in the classroom before, however after putting strategies in place suggested by the training, I saw the impact of group work on the children’s understanding drastically improve. It has been useful to learn how to facilitate discussion during a lesson through targeted questioning, rather than leading it. I have seen my questioning skills improve and have started embedding this skill in lessons across the curriculum, as I feel it is vital strategy to allow children ownership over their learning. The entire course has been a very positive experience: enjoyable, interesting, purposeful and well led.
LTE was completely inclusive for my class, which was exciting for me as there is an extreme range of abilities. In particular, LTE gave some of my lower ability children the means to express their ideas and discuss them without needing to commit anything to writing. The children loved the lessons and we developed an action that we did each time we started – it was exciting to work with their ‘Let’s Think’ partner and the mood in the room would always begin to buzz.
LTE has had a very positive impact on my teaching: my confidence has increased so that I am more willing now to step out of my comfort zone and try new approaches to teaching and learning. The programme has improved my ability to ask questions: I now respond to the children’s answers with a more analytical understanding; and I respond with more specific questions to enable pupils to strengthen their understanding.
LTE has had a fantastic impact on the children, not only in English but also across the curriculum. I have seen an improvement in their reasoning skills; they are now able to question their own thoughts and those of their peers. The lessons have encouraged greater participation in class discussions, especially those children who were more reserved.
Teamwork skills have improved; they value other children’s opinions more and realise that they can constructively criticise each other’s opinions to arrive at an agreed conclusion. The children are more willing to accept that maybe they are wrong at times! A pupil-led approach has resulted in clear increases in the levels of confidence and enjoyment whilst demonstrating higher standards of achievement, greater understanding of issues and a willingness to explore ideas. This is evident within English as well as across the curriculum.
My class have improved on their reasoning and discussion skills throughout this year. They comfortably answer questions knowing that I will ask them to explain their answer. The class as a whole have improved on their listening skills so they are ready to join in during LTE lesson. The EAL children in my class particularly enjoy the lessons and have made good progress because the focus is on talking instead of writing.
It has been clear that my children love these lessons and the challenge they bring. They have begun to question everything and are, more often, looking for different ideas or views that could be seen when we are doing other learning. They have begun to develop resilience when their thinking is challenged and their ability to work as a group has developed – even if it still has ways to go. Over the year, I can see the direct impact that these lessons have had on our Guided Reading and English lessons and the children’s abilities
The children enjoyed and looked forward to the lessons. I feel that these lessons have led to the children improving their reasoning and discussion skills. The children have become practised at explaining the reasoning behind their suggestions, sometimes doing this without me asking. The children have learned and demonstrate better listening skills when others are speaking. The children are beginning to interact with other children in a discussion, sometimes adding to each other’s ideas. The children seem to be more open to not having the answers straightaway and instead exploring a question or a topic.
The direct impact of these changes on my pupils is that the pupils are given the chance to work things out for themselves, to explore various possibilities and to change their minds. They know that they will have a decent amount of time to discuss the question and they do not feel under pressure to reach a quick answer. My pupils are far less obsessed with being right and are more willing to change their opinion as the discussion progresses, whereas previously many of them would have viewed this as some sort of admission of defeat I think this leads to higher levels of pupil engagement for all. The quieter students are becoming more confident about joining the discussion and the more dominant members of the group are improving their ability to really listen to others and actually consider their points.
What primary pupils say:
I like that you can share your ideas and say your opinions. This is because I like to know what different things people think. It is different because your work in small groups of four instead of by yourself or with the class. Let’s Think has helped me share my thoughts with confidence. I have learnt that metacognition means thinking about thinking and you use it a lot in Let’s Think. It is challenging because sometimes you can’t explain what you are thinking.
Let’s Think is great. It opens up a whole new part of your mind and you begin to see things differently to how you did before. I think it’s a nice change to the usual lesson type; there’s more talk, less writing! My favourite was the ‘Who’ lesson, because it was full of mystery. The writing we did for it was also really enjoyable, but was challenging, as I had to dig into the furthest corners of my brain for ideas!
I like the debate and looking at things that we might find strange or mysterious. I also like it that we do a different thing every time. It’s different because we find out things, little things at a time, whereas in a normal lesson it’s all in one go.
It has helped me become more confident to speak in class. I have learnt metacognition (thinking about thinking). It has been challenging because we had to think really deep in our heads.
What I like about Let’s Think is that you get to share your ideas and nothing is right or wrong. It is different because it is not developed or made by people like the government. It has helped me grow independence and made me more confident with sharing my ideas. Sometimes it is a bit hard when you don’t have a lot of ideas.