Friday 21 Sep 2018
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YOU ARE HERE: Home How to use Thinking Dice Science examples
Forces - Air resistance lesson outline incorporating Thinking Dice throughout. Print E-mail

With a little planning, a teacher would be able to demonstrate “outstanding” practice, by using the thinking dice progressively, throughout the entire lesson.

The teacher would carefully select the certain parts of the lesson to introduce the use of a certain dice to promote a different type/level of thinking. Let’s take a science lesson to demonstrate.



Curriculum subject: Science


Learning intention of lesson: Do all parachutes fall at the same speed?

Year group: 5 (9-10 yrs)


This type of science lesson is commonly taught throughout the UK as part of a “forces” topic. But how many teachers are able to not only teach the subject content but also develop thinking skills?


  • Lesson Introduction, teacher starts the lesson with a “Big picture” “little picture” discussion concerning where the children are headed in their overall science learning, then focuses on the learning intention at hand and what is going to happen today.

 It is here that the yellow dice could be used to “remember” previous lessons that may help today. The teacher could throw the dice to a child, once caught, the child looks to see where their right thumb is on the die and that is the question structure they use to generate a “Remembering” question for the class to answer. They then throw it back to teacher who models the same procedure and generates a question for the class to answer and then throws it to another child. E.g. a child’s right thumb is on “Who was it that…?” They then may generate a question like “who was it that first discovered gravity?


  • The teacher may move onto explain that he has a problem that they wish to investigate and that they need the help of the pupils. They may pretend to be a keen parachutist but the experience always finishes too soon, is there anyway we could make the flight to earth longer?

 It is here that teachers may elicit ideas in many different forms such as group brainstorms etc, but they are missing a great opportunity to develop “understanding thinking”. The orange dice could then be used to check the pupil’s understanding of the problem. Throwing and catching the “understanding” die could generate questions like

“Can you explain in your own words our teacher’s problem?”

“Please explain why it would be helpful to solve this problem?”


  • Moving the lesson on, the teacher could ask the pupils to work in pairs to come up with ideas to investigate this problem. These may be recorded in various forms. They could start to draw pictures of different types of parachute to test.

 There is now a wonderful opportunity to engage the children in a higher order thinking activity, which would also come under the banner of “Peer assessment”. Children take a turns in holding the red “Analysing” die. They rotate the die in their hands until they come to a face that has a sentence structure they wish to use. (Remember the dice don’t ALWAYS have to be rolled to be effective!) They then generate higher order thinking questions for other pairs of children that make them analyse the ideas they have just been working on. E.g. “Where else would you see objects falling faster or slower in nature?”

“How would you solve the problem of keeping the experiment fair?”

“What would you do if you were finding it hard to attach the weights to the parachute?” etc


  • As the lesson progresses and the pupils actually start the practical investigation into the problem. The teacher would naturally move from group to group offering help and suggestions.

At this point, the teacher could take the green analysing die to each table and use it to create higher order thinking questions encouraging the pupils to analyse their experiment as it is happening. With questions like “How does the rate of fall of this small parachute compare to that of the bigger parachute?”

“Why would someone else think that you are not dropping them from the right height?”

“What are some of the problems with this experiment?” etc

Pupils then have the opportunity to make any adjustments to their experiment straight away.


  • When results are recorded and apparatus is put away there is always a natural period of evaluating in this type of lesson. A time of sharing the pupils’ findings and celebrating their good practice.

 To develop this even further and ensure higher order thinking occurs and is developed. The teacher could ask the pupils to choose three faces of the “Evaluating” die (Blue) to give the class some feed back in a 1 min presentation.

For example a pair of children may choose,

1)      What is the most important…?

2)      If you could change one thing about…what would it be…?

3)      How would you select…?


They then take some time to produce a feedback report like the follow;


“We both really enjoyed our experiment today. We thought the most important part of our experiment was to try as many different shapes of parachute as possible. If we were going to change one thing about this experiment we would make sure we had the same object hanging from each parachute to keep it fair. If we were going to select a parachute for our teacher to use our advice would be not to use one….only joking…we would use a large square canopy to help fall slower.”


Again the dice were not rolled to create the report the children could select the most appropriate for them.


As part of the plenary session the teacher could ask all pupils to roll the purple “Creating” die and ask each other higher order thinking questions that meet this aspect of Bloom’s revised taxonomy. For example, “How would you adapt our teacher’s parachute to create a new one?”

“Can you propose an alternative material to use for a parachute?”

“How would you find out if different fabrics can make a parachute fall faster?”


  • At this point, the teacher would be over the moon with not only the excellent scientific investigation but also the development of thinking skills that has occurred throughout the lesson. The dice were used at strategic intervals, not inhibiting the lesson pace or structure but actually aiding the learning of the skills and content at a much deeper level.


Obviously this example uses all six thinking dice, but a teacher may wish to use one or two throughout the lesson.


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