Archive

Posts Tagged ‘critical thinking’

WatchMECreate Challenge #2 – WatchMERead

January 17th, 2011 No comments

Several years ago I did some tutoring for Literacy Volunteers of Maine. The student assigned to me was a man in his 30s who had dropped out of school in 9th grade and had limited reading and writing skills. He asked for a tutor because he was involved in litigation and could not read the legal papers his attorney was sending him. As I worked with him for the next few years, I was struck by how intelligent he was but how his low literacy level limited his choices in life. He had never had a checking account because he did not know how to read or write number words. He was trying to start an auto repair business but he had difficulty reading the repair manuals and writing invoices. He could not get a job working for someone else because he could not fill out an application or write a resume. One of his goals was to get his motorcycle license, but he was afraid of the written test and did not want to request a reader as he had done to get his driver’s license. Over the course of our time together he gained some basic skills and he did open a checking account, create a resume, and get a job in a garage, but I couldn’t help wondering how his life would have been different if he had learned to read earlier.

NASA Technicians Reading

NASA photo: Technicians read a manual on the Payload Ground-Handling Mechanism hook instrumentation unit.

As educators we are well aware of the importance of reading in all aspects of our lives, but how aware are our students? The current challenge at WatchMeCreate is designed to inspire students to investigate the importance of reading in our society and answer this question: “What would it take so that everyone, when asked, ‘Are you a reader?’ would say, ‘Of course I am…’?”  Student teams will, as with the earlier challenge, produce a short video (no longer than two minutes) that presents their response to this question. The deadline for submission to the WatchMERead challenge is February 18.

Almost every school in Maine has some kind of literacy initiative in place where teachers ask themselves this same question – “What will it take?” Maybe now it’s time to ask the students.

Here are some resources that you can share with your students to get them started.

December 16 Webinar Notes – Journaling Across the Curriculum

December 20th, 2010 No comments
light bulb image

*Who Else Has a Bright Idea?

I hope everyone who attended Thursday’s webinar came away with a few ideas for students’ journals. We began with a discussion of what journals are and some of the advantages that digital journals have over the traditional paper notebook journals students have kept in the past. We looked at some reasons for including journaling in any content area including how journal writing encourages reasoning, problem solving, and metacognition.

I demonstrated some of the features of NoteShare that make it such an effective journaling tool and shared a template for creating a math journal in Pages. You can download that file from the archived recording of either the afternoon or evening session. Blogging can also be a way for students to keep journals if each student is given a personal blog, and I shared three blogging resources that allow teachers to create individual blogs for students. The discussion then turned to ideas for journal entries and prompts and some suggestions for ways students can create entries that include audio and visual media as well as text. We ended with some suggestions for giving students feedback and assessing their journals.

Resources I shared:

As usual, participants in both webinar sessions offered their ideas and resources for student journaling:

  • Teaching teams can choose to do journaling as a joint process so journaling time and monitoring can be a shared responsibility.
  • Question: Are there issues with students sharing too much personal information in their journals?
  • Students can easily save a copy and paste a journal entry or save it as a PDF to include in a portfolio.
  • Students can use iWeb for journaling or blogging and even add a NoteShare notebook to an existed iWeb page.
  • Rick Wormeli’s Metaphors & Analogies: Power Tools for Teaching any Subject is a great resource for journaling.
  • A good resource for metacognition –  How People Learn (Chapters 2 and 3)
  • Video Journal Prompts from Ted Talks and Pop!Tech
  • Having students just write reflections makes them complacent about the process, so mixing them with other prompts can help keep them engaged.

Thanks to everyone who attended these webinars. Don’t forget that you can review the recordings of the online sessions by following the links in the Archives section of this blog.

*Image: Some Rights Reserved by nhuisman

December 16 Webinar: Journaling Across the Curriculum

December 14th, 2010 No comments
Girl typing and thinking cogito ergo sum

Illustration by Andrew Greenstone

Journal writing has proven to be a powerful and flexible activity that works well for any content area. Whether students are responding to literature, explaining their reasoning, or reflecting on their work, capturing their thinking in written language not only improves their writing and thinking skills but also gives teachers another opportunity to assess students’ progress.

In this week’s webinar, Journaling Across the Curriculum, we will take a close look at how journal writing can become a regular part of classroom work in any content area and at any grade level. We will discuss metacognition which is defined by most as “thinking about thinking” or “knowing about knowing.” The term refers to the ways we reflect on how we know what we know, how we learned it, and how we can apply it to learning new things. Metacognition is essential to becoming an effective, independent learner, and writing about our learning is a powerful metacognitive strategy.

We’ll also look at the advantages of digital journals, in particular how digital journals allow the use of other media as well as text. We will explore some tools for digital journal writing including NoteShare and Pages and discuss the use of  blogs for online journaling. As always, we will invite participants to share their experiences, resources, and ideas.

Please join us this Thursday, December 16 at 3:15 or 7:15 pm. Click on the Webcasts tab above to view our webinar calendar and register for one of Thursday’s sessions.

December 9 Webinar: Digital Citizenship in Maine Schools

December 7th, 2010 7 comments

Students are spending about seven and a half hours every day with technology according to an article in the New York Times titled How Much Time Do You Spend Consuming Media Everyday? by Katherine Schulten. Students are connecting, creating and collaborating through this media. Much of their days are spent talking or texting on cell phones, computer surfing, doing homework, blogging, social networking, gaming or watching television.

This brings both tremendous opportunities and great challenges to this generation of school kids.

We only have to look at the newspaper headlines about the dangers of sexting, cyberbullying and leaving a damaging digital footprints to understand that students need guidance to make safe, respectful and responsible choices.

Teaching Digital Citizenship is critical to youth development, improved student achievement and ensuring continued access to the advantages that their digital environment provides.

MLTI is partnering with Common Sense Media to provide a digital citizenship curriculum in Maine schools. Schools all over Maine are helping students to become good digital citizens by implementing lessons in their schools.

Learn about this curriculum and how schools are finding ways to educate students to become safe, smart and ethical digital citizens. Every school is unique. Learn how leaders in Maine schools have have championed this curriculum. Find out how it can work in your school.

Please pre-register online by clicking on the webcast tab above.  For questions about the webinar, please contact Teri Caouette at teri.caouette@mlti.org


Making Meaning – Critiquing Reality Using Web 2.0 to Foster Critical Thinking

June 17th, 2010 No comments

This webinar explored the underpinnings of critical thinking, asking three questions:

Is it developmental?
How do we know when we see it?
Can it be measured?

A website that provides perspective about the developmental aspect is Kids on the Net: Critical Thinking Skills for Web Literacy – An Analysis of What Kids Should Know about Cyberspace. This site explains the development of cognitive, emotional, moral, and psychological issues of different children’s age groups. Their resources show that learning critical thinking should address these issues in a developmental way, building skills step by step.

There are quite a few different models/definitions/attributes of critical thinking that attempt to make it possible to observe it in action. Every description depended on the discipline it came from, i.e. psychology, philosophy, educational theory, etc. Here are some of the exemplary websites:

Discussion and Model of Critical Thinking from Ed Psyc Interactive
Model of Information Seeking and Critical Thinking from Baltimore County Public Schools
Partnership for 21st Century Skills and Critical Thinking

How are we to deal with the issue of standardized testing and the teaching of critical thinking? In an ERIC abstract (ED312622) of “Literacy and Critical Thinking: The NAEP Literacy Studies and What We Are Not Teaching about ‘Higher Reasoning Skills,” by Craig Walton (1989,) the author states that the elements of synthesis or summary, analysis or problem solving, argumentation, and experimentation are skills that seem to be lacking in students. He sees a correlation of that lack with educators’ ignorance of those higher skills and how to teach them. That was quite an indictment, and worth challenging.

Socratic questioning is a way of helping students face the issue of critical thinking. The questioning can be used first by the teacher, and as the students start to become more aware of  how the questions help their thinking, the students can begin questioning each other and themselves. This website from Northern Illinois University Consortium for Problem-Based Learning provides the foundational precepts and a matrix of exemplary questions.

Web 2.0 has been called the Read/Write Web. That is because you become an active participant, not just a passive viewer – You interact with the information. How does this help critical thinking? By the fact that people make comments. All of the following websites provide examples of ways that teachers can provide students examples of commenting that they can see, critique and respond to.

Comments about places to stay:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/

A “safe” current event website that kids can practice making comments:
http://tweentribune.com/

International Movie DataBase – using movie reviews and forums as examples of critique:
http://www.imdb.com/

Going beyond the Wikipedia articles and looking at the discussion and history of the content:
http://www.wikipedia.org/

Responding to visual examples:
http://www.flickr.com/

Commenting both textually and visually:
http://voicethread.com/#home

Finally, any blog or wiki could be used to help kids learn and practice discourse and critique, as well as the Gallery, Discussion and Chat in Studywiz.

Measuring critical thinking can be a wicked problem, depending on what you are looking for. Perhaps you can develop small rubrics based on your deconstruction of pertinent elements of critical thinking. In that manner students could review or make comments based on individual aspects of critical thinking skills on which they are focused. Here is a higher education rubric for critical thinking that can be used as a reference for ideal goals. And here is another that has been used for higher education and business with a rationale as well. An accompanying document from Insight Assessment proposes that there are dispositions as well as skills involved in critical thinking and provides self-reflective questions.

Just to be provocative, here is a quote from a recent article to think about:


“DEMOCRATIC THINKING REQUIRES THE PURSUIT OF MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES

Much as Darwin’s theory of natural selection depends on genetic variation, any
theory of democracy depends on a multiplicity of ideas. It is the responsibility of
the citizenry, the media, and the schools to safeguard the expression of those
ideas. Schools have particular responsibilities in this regard. Healthy critical
analysis is one hallmark of a mature democracy, and educators have a responsi-
bility to create learning environments that help to realize these ideals. There are
many varied and powerful ways to teach children and young adults to engage
critically – to think about social policy issues, participate in authentic debate
over matters of importance, and understand that intelligent adults can have
different opinions. Indeed, democratic progress depends on these differences.”

“No Child Left Thinking: Democracy at Risk in Canadian Schools,” Joel Westheimer; CANADIAN EDUC ATION , Spring 2010; Canada Education Association; p 5-8

June 10 Webinar – Making Meaning: Critiquing Reality

June 7th, 2010 No comments

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wooandy/157308397/

Using Web 2.0 to Foster Critical Thinking


We all want our students to be good critical thinkers, to have 21st Century skills.  This week, in our final Making Meaning webinar, we will discuss and explore different ways to define, observe and assess critical thinking skills, and how to use a few Web 2.0 tools to boost those skills. Some people might include CT as part of information literacy. It should be an interesting hour.