Thinking skills in Religious Education at Twynyrodyn school

Thinking skills in Religious Education at Twynyrodyn school, Merthyr

by Justine Jones – RE Coordinator

Thinking skills are an important stimulus in the development of children and young people’s learning. Thinking skills are those higher order skills which improve the quality of pupils’ learning. Various strategies can be used to promote high quality thinking and these strategies translate very well to an RE context. .

After having attended a number of in service training courses on the use of thinking skills in RE as part of my CPD as a teacher I set about implementing them into my schemes of work. Here are some of the strategies I used and the outcomes from children’s work..

Strategy – Sequencing – Reception class

Pupils were asked to sequence the Christian story of the birth of Jesus and retell the story and talk about what is happening.

Strategy – Fortune lines- Year 1

This strategy asks children to place events in order on a graph and use empathy skills to discuss how they think a person/people would feel at that point in their life and with those events.

Strategy- Patchwork Quit- Year 2

This is when words are placed at random on a sheet and pupils have to read the words and try and find links to the next word to it – either to its side, above or below. Pupils then discuss this with their partner and share their ideas.

Strategy – 5Ws- Key Stage 2

This is an activity that helps you think of 5 key questions on any topic – Who, What, Where, When, Why. In this activity children were asking questions of a picture. Who? (were involved) What? (was happening, can they see in the picture, artefacts there) Where? (did it take place) When? (any clues to when this was happening) and WHY?( why do people do this, why is it important).

Strategy – Mind mapping  -Key Stage 2

Mind maps are a visual way of recording information. Put the key word or main idea into the centre of a sheet of paper.  In this case the central theme was the religion of Islam and in particular the 5 Pillars of Islam. These are – shahadah, salah, zakah, sawn and hajj. Children add relevant information taking each new idea as far as they can go. They can use pictures, symbols and words to map out ideas. . It is a bit like peeling back the layers of an onion and going deeper into the importance of it at each layer.

Strategy – Double bubbles- Key Stage 2

Here pupils are finding out information on two sacred books- the Bible and the Torah. They find out the information and put it into the bubbles and then discuss with a talking partner what they find and identity ways in which they are similar or different. They also identify what resources they used to find out information such as the internet, books, people etc.

These are just a few of the strategies we use but we believe it has enabled pupils to have a deeper understanding of what they are studying in their religious education lessons.  It is a key aim of our school that Religious Education provides an opportunity to celebrate and foster awareness of differences within our world.  It is a subject that celebrates diversity and challenges stereotypes. We at Twynyrodyn believe that the use of thinking skills enables us to fulfill this aim and we have seen good outcomes from pupils’ work to evidence this. We will continue to use these strategies and also expand upon them.