Tag Archives: sustained shared thinking

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The Ultimate Guide to Sustained Shared Thinking

My new online course on Sustained Shared Thinking is now available. You can get it at a special price here…
>> The Sustained Shared Thinking Online Course < <

 
I’m currently getting a lot of interest around Sustained Shared Thinking, which is very encouraging as I am a massive fan of this proven method of quality practice.

This guide will consider the what, why, how, when, where and who of Sustained Shared Thinking.

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Talking and Learning: Book Review

I’ve followed Michael Jones’s blogs ‘Talk4Meaning’ for a number of years, for three very simple reasons:

  1. They always have sound advice, based on Michael’s vast knowledge
  2. They make me stop and think about the ‘obvious’
  3. They are fun, filled with music videos, reminiscences and stories.

So, when Michael mentioned to me that he had a book coming out, Talking and Learning with Young Children, I immediately pre-ordered it.

When the book arrived, it was even better than I’d hoped, with Michael’s enjoyment of language evident on every page.

From the very start, Talking and Learning with Young Children has a positive message: ‘It is fun to talk, for the sake of talking’ and has a focus on joint learning between adults and children, rather than adults hijacking the conversation.

As you would expect from such an experienced observer of children and raconteur, there are plenty of beautifully written examples of children’s interactions, in fact there are examples and case studies on almost every page. In addition, there is a very useful glossary at the end of the book.

The book starts with some of the most important theories, but doesn’t get bogged down with these. Michael starts his analysis of communication with those fascinating interactions between adults and babies, which start to form the basis of verbal communication. The chapters then move through first words, talking with two-year-olds and consideration of the home learning environment.

Chapters six and seven investigate the early years setting. First of all ‘quality talk’ is explored, with some excellent examples of Sustained Shared Thinking, and a range of different scenarios that practitioners will find themselves in.

In chapter seven, the perennial problem of having valuable and meaningful conversations with small groups of children is examined. This is the most realistic situation for most nursery settings and Michael has included some very practical ways that adults can extend and share conversations, even when there is a large group of children.

Taking a step back to look at the bigger picture, chapter eight looks at the pedagogy in a setting and how this can be organised to influence practice in a positive way, with some very thought provoking sections (see ‘Saying what you mean’ on page 157).

The final chapter considers ‘Communicating complex ideas’ and explores how practitioners can support children’s thinking using quality language. This chapter starts with a fantastic example of a four-and-a-half year old grappling with the question of ‘Is Elvis real?’ (page 172). The young child’s logic is impeccable and it is a brilliant illustration of how language exposes children’s thinking processes.

I think this is a book you could read just for the sheer joy of it – you don’t need to be doing a course or studying language development. It would certainly be a very valuable addition to the staff room or network group and for starting reflective conversations in staff meetings.

However, I will leave the last words to Michael – Enjoyable conversation is the place where children develop as talkers.

You can get the book from all good booksellers and your Amazon link is here.

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The Beauty of Dens

I love dens. Always have – as a child I would spend hours in the garden with my brother and sister, collecting large branches, reeds, planks of wood – anything to make a den with.

I think the joy was being able to create something from nothing. (I also suspect that I had an enclosure schema going on. Even now I like to sit in the corner of a café, tidy things into boxes and prefer grids to mind maps).

Of course, once you have an enclosed areas such as a den, you can invite others in – or shut them out. The element of self-choice can be very important to children. Sometimes even well meant adult intervention can be disruptive or even destructive to children’s play.

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Role of the Key Person

In previous blogs, I have discussed two very useful techniques to support Sustained Shared Thinking – active listening and positive questioning.

Having discussed some of the skills needed to achieve successful Sustained Shared Thinking, I thought it would be beneficial to step back a little to view the whole of the Key Person role, with respect to Sustained Shared Thinking.

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How is Your Positive Questioning?

Sustained Shared Thinking is the extended conversations between children and adults, or children and their peers. This will be encouraged by using Active Listening (see the blog here) coupled with Positive Questioning.

Sometimes there is a great temptation to quiz children to find out what they know, how they are feeling and what they are thinking. However, just as with adults, this can be very off putting, and actually cause your child to stop sharing their thoughts.

So, how can we encourage Sustained Shared Thinking, without intimidating or scaring the children away?

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Improve your active listening skills

An essential part of Sustained Shared Thinking is active listening.

This important technique can be the difference between a brief conversation and an extremely valuable episode of Sustained Shared Thinking.

Active listening with children is more than just hearing their words. It is a skill that needs to be practiced.

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Recommended Resources

The New SSTEW Scale

The new SSTEW – Sustained Shared Thinking and Emotional Well-being Scale for 2-5 year olds

SSTEW cover

by Iram Siraj, Denise Kingston & Edward Melhuish

I was very excited to see that there was to be a quality assessment tool for Sustained Shared Thinking and Emotional Well-being (SSTEW). As I’m sure you know, I’m a massive fan of Sustained Shared Thinking, and its benefits, but measuring the quality of Sustained Shared Thinking is massively difficult.

How can you really analyse the quality of interactions, which may only be a few minutes long?

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Recommended Resources

My Book: Sustained Shared Thinking

sst-coverSustained Shared Thinking is fundamental to good Early Years practice.
It costs nothing, yet research (via the EPPE project) has shown that it improves outcomes for children by supporting their deep level learning and holistic development.

This book clearly explains what Sustained Shared Thinking is and examines the skills and expertise needed to initiate, encourage and facilitate it. It explores the attitudes, knowledge and understanding that a practitioner in any setting should adopt in order to start or develop successful Sustained Shared Thinking.

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Sustained Shared Thinking and your Pedagogy

Listening
My new online course on Sustained Shared Thinking is now available. You can get it at a special price here…
>> The Sustained Shared Thinking Online Course <<

 
In a previous post on Sustained Shared Thinking I spoke about how important Sustained Shared Thinking is to good practice. Since that post in 2009, the EYFS has been updated and Sustained Shared Thinking now appears on page 7 of Development Matters (2012), the EYFS guidance from Early Education.

Sustained Shared Thinking still appears in the new Teacher’s Standards (Early Years) (Sept. 2013) in Standard 2.4, a replacement for Standard 16 in the Early Years Professional Status (EYPS).

It would seem that Sustained Shared Thinking is here to stay – which I think is really good news. However, that now leaves the question of “How can I ensure Sustained Shared Thinking is  part of my pedagogy?”

Pedagogy, in its simplest form, is the way that we teach, educate or scaffold children’s learning. It is the way that we, as  practitioners, create an environment that encourages children to learn for themselves, to solve problems and extend their own thought processes.

It is more than just what we teach, it is how the idea is embedded into everything that we do, from our own personal approach to the environment.

So how can we ensure that we are both engaging  in Sustained Shared Thinking AND giving children the environment that encourages it?

One way is to make sure that all the practitioners in your setting (whether that is the Teaching Assistant, Childminder’s assistant or your setting manager) are aware of the powerful learning that is taking place when you are talking and actively listening to the children.

There should be areas in the setting where extended conversations are encouraged, for example, quiet, cosy areas; dens; outdoor corners and during small group time. Even simple activities such as nappy change time is an opportunity to chat to your child – to encourage the good eye contact and taking turns in ‘talking’ – that will create masterful conversationalists.

Sustained conversations may take place whilst waiting for snack or lunch or on the carpet after story time. They may happen equally outside, whilst looking for mini-beasts or playing a circle game.

Secondly, wherever, and whenever, these opportunities present themselves, you and your fellow practitioners should grasp them with both hands. You don’t know when, or if, your child will what to explore that particularly idea again.

Carefully observe your children and note when they are the most likely to want to talk, then make sure that you have some time to meet their needs on that occasion. This could mean cutting short a circle time or allowing extra time to get coats on – but Sustained Shared Thinking is so important that these are worthwhile sacrifices.

Finally, and most importantly, make sure that all practitioners value and support conversations with the children, making it a bedrock of your pedagogy.

My new book on Sustained Shared Thinking is now published by David Fulton. Find out more about supportive environments for Sustained Shared Thinking in Chapter 6.

My new online course on Sustained Shared Thinking is now available. You can get it at a special price here…
>> The Sustained Shared Thinking Online Course <<

 
And to read my ultimate guide to Sustained Shared thinking, click here:

>> The Ultimate Guide To Sustained Shared Thinking <<  

References

Early Education (2012) Development Matters London: Early Education

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Children and their Future

This week I was teaching on a SENCO course and the topic of new technology came up. Now, I’m old enough to remember when ‘video-phones’ were a thing of science fiction. But these days my 5 year old nephew is as likely to Face-time me as he is to phone and it’s something that is absolutely normal for him.

So how do young children view technology today?

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