Tony Ryan's Thinkers Keysexternal image j0336382.gifexternal image j0336382.gifexternal image j0336382.gif
Classroom Ideas:
There are 20 different ‘Thinking Keys’ each designed to unlock different parts of the thinking process.The use of the keys helps to develop flexible problem solving and thinking habits.
  • The thinking keys provide a flexible and dynamic way to engage students in further learning.
  • They are a great way to do informal assessment during the unit for measuring student understanding.
  • The students really enjoy the range of activities that the keys enable them to choose from and subsequently produce interesting and thoughtful work.

There are many ways that the thinkers' keys can be integrated into the classroom to enhance the thinking of the students:imagesCASEL09C.jpg

Warm up Activities - Give the class one of the keys to work on for 5 to 10 minutes to get them thinking creatively before writing or before/after the bell. For example you could use the:
1. Question Key: Give the children an answer and they have to come up with five questions that match the answer.
2. Reverse Key: Children come up with 10 things that cannot be done or never seen (give the senerio).
3. Different Uses Key: give children an object in which they are to come up with 10 different uses for.

Reading Contract Activities - The 20 thinkers' keys can be incorporated into daily reading and comprehension activities. These can be specifically designed tasks for the children to complete at guided reading time (e.g. use the Prediction Key to predict possible outcomes for this situation, the Variations Key to solve a problem or the Interpretaion Key to explain the existence of that situation).

Assessment - Use the thinkers' keys as a way of unlocking student knowledge and thinking in all learning areas. For example using the Question Key to assess students growing understanding of a topic. The Question Key - 'Tell me 5 questions that the answer for which could be "kiwi" ' (e.g. What is the name of a flightless New Zealand bird?)
This this is a quick and easy way to gauge students understanding and plan their next learning.

Inquiry - Use the 20 thinkers' keys at all stages of an inquiry as a tool for thinking more deeply about the topic. This can be set up as a 'Thinkers Keys' table in a space in the classroom where children can complete the tasks in relation to the class inquiry (e.g.

Thinkers Keys table - Have a table set up with all or selected Thinkers Keys on it which the children can go to and use in spare time. Have set questions for each Key. This could also be made into a class competition to see who is the most creative with their answers.

Extension and/or extra activities - Children can have the freedom to pick what task they do; and when a task is completed they can start on another one. As an extension or early finishers for children in years 4 and up, the"variation key" can be used to get childen to expand on their thinking. Start with "how many ways can you..." children can work from a list of things or make up things that connect with the classroom How many ways can you wash a car?

As a space filler, earlyfinishers or end of day warm down, the alphabet key can be used to get children thinking about the topic you are doing in the classroom. This can be done as a class or individually. GIve children the topic, and have them list its attributes from A to Z. For the younger children this can be simplified by having them make a list of words that go with the topic, eg. make a list of foods from A to Z, sports,thinkers_keys.jpg countries.

Resources - The keys as seen in the picture on the right, can be printed off and laminated so they are child friendly. The children then have a hands on resource they can identify with and then use as an activity in groups or as a whole class. They are engaging and fun!

ICT Ideas:

Cameras - children can use the class camera to record their findings for the Different Uses Key. This Key requires the students to find various different uses for one object which they can then photograph and report back to the class.
Internet - children can use the internet to research the different Keys and topics using the different keys.
Talking Books - as a class the children could create a talking book to explain Tony Ryan's 20 different Thinkers Keys. This would solidify their knowledge
on each one also. They could do this around a particular topic. 
Recordable Microphones - another way for the children to record their answers to questions such as the Alphabet Key where they compile a list of words form A to Z.
the children can put their findings and examples on their class blog or wiki. 
Computers - children can use computers as a different way of recording their answers when using the different Thinkers Keys.
Interactive Boards - these can be used as a classroom tool to explain and record findings around particular topics using different keys. As seen below, an example of the What If Key.

An example using the What If Key on an Interactive Whiteboard

How have other teachers used thinkers keys:Thinkers_keys_two.jpg
Chocolate Chippie Cookies
New Zealand
Space and Endangered Species
Contract Activities
Lots of Resources and info!
More Resources!

Thinkers Keys for Kids
Thinkers Keys
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