Opening Minds

Opening Minds

Staff

  • Mrs N Hartt (Co-ordinator for Opening Minds)
  • Mrs S Vaughan
  • Mrs M Hill
  • Miss R Bullock
Aims

Opening Minds is a concept that was created by the R.S.A to help schools to provide young people with the skills or competencies they need to thrive in the real world. The course itself is written by individual schools tailored to the needs, location and experiences of their students. At H.G.S it is taught to Year 7 students only.
The course is designed to improve students’ study skills so that they are more successful independent learners and team members in all subjects and throughout their lives. The emphasis is very much on the processes that students need to be successful independent learners and team members and the course is structured around the 5 Competences to provide them with opportunities to hone these skills. Focusing on competences means that Opening Minds teaching is emphasising the ability to understand and to do, rather than just the transmission of knowledge. Reflection upon the strategies they use and the level of success that they encounter using these provides students with the opportunity to constantly set targets and improve their self-awareness to work increasingly more successfully. There is currently no formal assessment or grading at Levels.

(http://www.thersa.org/projects/education/opening-minds)

curriculum

At H.G.S. a team of Opening Minds teachers delivers the Opening Minds projects to all Year 7 students on a weekly basis for 2 lessons during one day. Below are the competences in ‘student speak’. Each weekly project focuses on one of these competences for assessment of achievement, but usually a number are used. It is these rather than any curriculum content that drives the projects, although elements of a number of other subjects studied in Y7 (such as History, Geography, Design Technology, Citizenship, Maths, Science and English) are utilised in Opening Minds lessons.

 

Competences for Learning

In this group of competences these are the things you should be trying to do and keep
getting better at:

  1. Getting to know about the ways you learn about things and which ways you find it easiest to learn (like reading, looking at pictures, talking, doing things); making sure you are always learning new things as you go through your life –we call this ‘lifelong learning’.
  2. Learning how to think about things so that you can work things out for yourself, think about ideas and the things you hear and read about.
  3. Finding out about the things you are good at doing – all kinds of different things, like sport, art, music, design, drama, writing, planning, organising and so on. You should also be finding out the best ways you can use your talents or ‘creativity.’
  4. Getting to enjoy learning because it’s interesting and fun and because it helps you to understand yourself more.
  5. Becoming really good in writing, reading, maths and developing a good sense of the way everything fits into its own space.
  6. Getting good at using computers and other technology and knowing about how they work.

 

Competences for Citizenship

In this group of competences these are the things you should be trying to do and keep
getting better at:

  1. Understanding about the ways people should behave towards each other and how the things you believe are right or not right affect the ways you can be a useful person in our society.
  2. Understanding how our society works – things like local and national government, businesses, and how you can be an ‘active citizen’ by getting involved in things that affect our society.
  3. Understanding that there are many different cultures in the world and in our own country and that it’s important to understand these and to show you respect and value different cultures and the people who are part of them.
  4. Understanding the effects – either good or bad – that technology has on the way we all live.
  5. Understanding how to manage some things in your own life, and what you need to be able to do this; understanding how to manage money.

 

Competences for Relating to People

In this group of competences these are the things you should be trying to do and keep
getting better at:

  1. Understanding how to work with and behave towards other people in all kinds of different situations, sometimes ones where you’re in charge, sometimes when other people are in charge, and knowing how people together can get things done.
  2. Understanding how to work in a team of people and the different ways in which you can be a good team member.
  3. Understanding how you can help other people to get better at things – people of your own age or younger people.
  4. Knowing different ways of communicating with other people and how you choose the best way of doing this at different times in different circumstances.
  5. Being in control of your own emotions and managing your personal relationships well.
  6. Understanding ways you can make things better when there is a lot of stress or argument about things.

 

Competences for Managing Situations

In this group of competences these are the things you should be trying to do and keep
getting better at:

  1. Understanding why it’s important to be able to manage your time well, and knowing different ways to do this.
  2. Sometimes we have to make – or we want to make – changes in our lives, or we are caught up in changes that other people make, so this competence is about finding different ways that you can manage different kinds of changes.
  3. Understanding the importance of celebrating good things that happen but also knowing how you cope when you are disappointed.
  4. Understanding how to develop your own ideas about things and how to use your ideas in effective ways.
  5. Understand about taking risks, and how you deal with risk and with and not being sure about things in lots of different circumstances.

 

Competences for Managing Information

In this group of competences these are the things you should be trying to do and keep
getting better at:

  1. Knowing different ways to find information you need, sort out what’s important and what’s not, and then use the information in whatever way you need to.
  2. Understanding how you think about information carefully and being able to come to your own decisions about what’s being said.

Course structure

Term 1 – ‘Me, Myself and I’ is the theme for the first half-term of Year 7. It aims to make students more aware about themselves and how they learn and also to settle into the new environment of H.G.S. It also begins to explore their relationship with the city they live in and their roots. The second half-term is focused on the theme ‘We, Them and Us’. Students explore the wider world and understand how people at times in history and today cope with and adapt to change.

Term 2 – ‘Beyond Survival’ enables students to understand how species have adapted to survive and how people at different times have faced challenges. There is a focus on personal survival with projects on fire safety, health issues, extreme weather and surviving in the wild.

Term 3 – ‘Change: Causes and Consequence’ is the focus of this term with an emphasis on cars, cities, sport and science. As part of this theme, students visit the National Motor Museum in Coventry and Coventry Cathedral.

How is Opening Minds Assessed?

Students self-assess their progress on the specified competence at the end of each project. Teachers record their assessment of a student’s proficiency in a competence throughout a project using the levels indicated below. These are also used on the reports and progress reports for Opening Minds. Please note that this is not a Key Stage Level from the National Curriculum. Students’ levels will probably vary over the year as the competencies cover a wide range of skills, some of which students will be adept at whilst others will be more challenging for them.

Level 4 – Proficient
Students use the competence independently after limited instruction. They are able to use the competence appropriately and effectively in different situations.

Level 3 – Capable
Students use the competence independently after limited instruction. They are able to use the competence appropriately and effectively in different situations.

Level 2 – Developing
Students are beginning to use the competence with teacher guidance. They use the competence in familiar situations.

Level 1 – Aware
Students know of the competence and are gaining experience of how to use the competence.

Key Documents

Creating a Revision Timetable

Giving a speech guide

How to complete tasks successfully

Practice writing in your own words to paraphrase someone else

Revision planning for Y7 exams