Explore learnability within the Structural Learning Toolkit context, a transformative approach that equips learners with strategies to enhance their capacity to learn, fostering critical thinking and lifelong learning skills through innovative, hands-on tools.

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Various Schools

What is 'Learnability'?

Learnability is a term gaining currency in educational discourse, signifying the capability to learn effectively and efficiently. At its core, learnability is about the agility and willingness to grow one’s skillset and knowledge base in a constantly evolving landscape of information. In the context of learning and education, learnability is not merely a beneficial attribute but a critical skill that forms the foundation of lifelong learning.

For children, the development of learnability skills ensures they can navigate the steep learning curve of academic disciplines and extracurricular pursuits with resilience and adaptability. It’s a crucial aspect of their learning journey that enables them to transform poor performance into growth opportunities, spending time on task not just to complete it, but to master the art of learnability. This attitude and aptitude are vital, as they help establish a pattern of continuous learning, which is indispensable in our knowledge-rich society.

Similarly, for adults, cultivating learnability skills is equally imperative. In a world where industries and technologies evolve rapidly, the dimensions of learning expand, demanding a learning capacity that embraces change and innovation. Adults with high learnability levels are more likely to engage in self-driven learning, making them valuable assets in any professional and personal setting.

The Structural Learning Toolkit enhances this capacity by providing tangible resources that scaffold the learning experiences of both children and adults. It enables learners to organize their thoughts and ideas systematically, making the absorption of new information more manageable and the learning process more approachable.

In this article, we'll explore strategies that help children and adults acquire knowledge and refine the crucial aspect of learning, ensuring that the act of learning itself becomes a deliberate, self-driven journey towards continuous personal and intellectual development.


Planning with the Thinking Framework for Learnability

The Universal Thinking Framework is used to guide the design of learning journeys. Its foremost contribution is in equipping both learners and educators with a rich language for learning, a critical learnability skill that transcends the conventional approach to education. This shared vocabulary becomes the conduit through which the abstract dimensions of learning are translated into concrete, visual formats, thus making learning more accessible and navigable.

Herein lies the utility of the Framework: it does not simply push learners through a curriculum; it ensures they think their way through it. This deliberate process helps elevate the learnability level of each child by engaging them in continuous learning, a foundational element of lifelong learning. The Framework's design inherently acknowledges the multifaceted nature of learning, recognizing that to foster deep understanding, one must cater to the varied ways in which individuals perceive and process information.

Collaborative planning tasks

By visualizing learning pathways, the Framework makes abstract concepts tangible. It allows children to see the progress of their thoughts, to track the development of ideas, and to understand how new knowledge is constructed. This visibility is empowering — it clarifies the learning process, providing clear markers of growth and areas for further exploration.

Moreover, the Universal Thinking Framework enhances communication between children and teachers. When both parties have a common language to describe the learning process, conversations become more focused on how to advance understanding. Teachers can provide more precise guidance, and children can articulate their learning needs and achievements more effectively.

Scoping out a learning journey

Adopting the Universal Thinking Framework:

  1. Cultivates a Common Language: It fosters a shared understanding of the learning process between teachers and pupils.
  2. Visualizes Learning: It transforms the intangible journey of learning into visible paths that pupils can follow and understand.
  3. Encourages Active Engagement: Pupils are participants in their learning journey, actively involved in the thinking process.
  4. Promotes Metacognition: It encourages learners to think about their thinking, enhancing their metacognitive awareness.
  5. Supports Differentiation: The Framework is adaptable, providing scaffolds for learners at different stages and levels of learnability.
  6. Facilitates Feedback: With a shared language and visual tools, feedback becomes more specific and actionable.
  7. Aligns with Continuous Learning: It provides a structure for ongoing learning and development, acknowledging that education is a lifelong endeavor.

In essence, the Universal Thinking Framework is not just a tool but an ethos that embeds learnability into the very core of educational practice, ensuring that learning journeys are as enriching as they are enlightening.


Planning projects using the thinking framework



Stretching and Challenging Pupils with Strategic Thinking

The Thinking Framework's true strength lies in how it can stretch and challenge pupils cognitively, pushing them beyond their comfort zones into deeper realms of understanding. Here are five ideas for educators to elevate cognitive challenge in the classroom using the Framework:

  1. Question Generation: Utilize the actions within the Thinking Framework to encourage pupils to generate their own questions. This not only deepens their understanding of a topic but also empowers them to take ownership of their learning process. By crafting questions, pupils engage with the material at a higher level, honing their ability to analyze, evaluate, and create.
  2. On-the-Fly Challenges: The Framework's cards can be used to create spontaneous challenges that require pupils to apply concepts in novel ways. This unpredictability adds complexity to the learning task, compelling pupils to adapt and apply their knowledge spontaneously, fostering adaptability and higher-order thinking.
  3. Path of Choice: Provide pupils with options for their learning journeys. Using the Framework, they can choose different paths that challenge their thinking in various ways. This could mean selecting different learning actions to explore a topic or choosing how to demonstrate their understanding, thereby tailoring the cognitive challenge to their individual learnability levels.
  4. Flip the Framework: Invert the expected use of the Framework by asking pupils to work backwards from a desired outcome or to challenge existing knowledge. This reverse-engineering approach promotes a deeper engagement with the learning material and a stronger grasp of the subject matter's underpinning structure.
  5. Cross-Pollination of Ideas: Encourage pupils to use the Framework to draw connections between disparate subjects or themes, fostering interdisciplinary learning. By merging concepts from different subjects, pupils enhance their ability to think divergently and to see beyond the silos of subject-specific content.

Through these strategies, the Thinking Framework becomes an invaluable asset in the classroom, facilitating a rich, challenging, and diverse learning environment where learnability is not just developed but celebrated.


The Transformative Impact of Block Building

The Writer's Block tool serves as an exceptional resource for developing both thinking skills and subject knowledge in schools. Its tangible, hands-on nature helps to demystify the organization of information and promotes active learning. Here are five ways schools can harness the power of the Writer's Block:

  1. Sequencing Events: In subjects such as history or literature, schools can use Writer's Blocks to help children physically sequence events, aiding their understanding of chronological order and narrative flow. This can also support their ability to summarize and retell stories or historical events accurately.
  2. Building Argument Structures: For subjects requiring critical thinking and persuasive skills, such as English or debate, the blocks can be used to construct the framework of an argument. This includes establishing a thesis, supporting points, and counterarguments, thus clarifying complex reasoning processes.
  3. Exploring Cause and Effect: In science and social studies, students can utilize the blocks to map out cause-and-effect relationships, understanding how variables interact with one another. This is crucial for subjects like environmental science, where understanding the impact of one factor over another is key.
  4. Concept Mapping: The blocks can be effective tools for creating visual concept maps that help students connect ideas within a subject, such as linking mathematical concepts or scientific principles. By physically manipulating the blocks, students can explore and solidify these connections.
  5. Grammar and Sentence Construction: In language learning, the blocks can facilitate understanding of grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary. By constructing sentences with the blocks, students can experiment with word order, punctuation, and the use of various parts of speech.

Sentence construction

Writers block for sentence combining

Employing the Writer's Block in these ways not only enhances subject knowledge but also sharpens students' analytical and organizational thinking skills. Through active engagement, students can elevate their learning and become adept at structuring their thoughts and ideas.

Creating writing plans

Professional Development through the Lens of Learnability

Professional development in schools is a critical component for nurturing a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. It requires staff to often adopt new mindsets and methodologies that may differ from traditional educational practices. Here’s how schools can engage and support their staff in this transformative process.

Teacher collaboration

  1. Action Research Projects: Encourage teachers to participate in action research projects that explore the effectiveness of the Thinking Framework and Writer's Blocks in enhancing learnability. By investigating and reflecting on their teaching practices and student outcomes, teachers can contribute to the school's knowledge base and develop professionally.
  2. Focus Groups: Create focus groups that allow staff to discuss and share their experiences with these new teaching tools. These groups can provide a platform for collaborative problem-solving, where teachers can brainstorm and refine strategies for integrating structural learning into their classrooms.
  3. Collaborative Workshops: Organize workshops where teachers can engage in hands-on activities using the Thinking Framework and Writer's Blocks. By experiencing the learning process as their students would, teachers can better understand the potential challenges and benefits these tools offer.
  4. Peer Coaching: Establish a peer coaching system where teachers can observe one another using these new methods in the classroom and provide feedback. This not only promotes a supportive learning environment among staff but also encourages the exchange of ideas and strategies.
  5. Dedicated Collaboration Time: Allocate regular time during the school schedule for staff to meet and discuss their progress, challenges, and successes with the new tools. This ensures that professional development is ongoing and that teachers have the opportunity to reflect and grow together.
  6. Continuous Training: Offer continuous training sessions that allow teachers to stay updated on the latest research and practices related to learnability and structural learning tools. Keeping staff informed helps maintain enthusiasm and commitment to these innovative teaching practices.

Exploring learnability

By prioritizing these collaborative and reflective professional development activities, schools can foster an environment where staff feel empowered to experiment with and adopt new approaches to learning.

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