Category Archives: Critical Thinking

Making Critical Thinking Matter – Prioritizing Higher Order Instruction in a World of Constraints with Featured Guest, Colin Seale of thinkLaw

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This week on Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT our featured guest was Colin Seale, Esq. Colin is the Founder and CEO of thinkLaw, which helps educators teach critical thinking to all students through an award-winning, standards-aligned supplemental curriculum based on real-life legal cases and powerful & personalized professional development that helps educators apply critical thinking across grade levels and subject areas. thinkLaw partners with over 60 schools in 11 states as part of its revolutionary agenda to create a world where critical thinking is no longer a luxury good.

Colin and his team provided excellent information on the importance of teaching critical thinking in schools. Critical thinking is considered one of the most important 21st century skills. The days of viewing education as an information delivery service are gone. Students need to learn critical thinking as it is viewed as a ‘life skill’ necessary for success today.

“We are preparing students for entire industries that do not exist yet. Critical thinking cannot be a luxury good! It is the precursor to innovation. STEAM means zip if students can’t find, communicate, and solve real problems.”                                                                                                                                 ~ Colin Seale, Esq.

Innovative educators are realizing that learning ‘how to think’ trumps content every time. The world’s best education systems know that engaging students’ passions can tip the scales for learning. Colin explained, “[There has been a] paradigm shift: content vs. depth is a false choice. Start with powerful questions and motivate content acquisition.”

Why is it so hard to get today’s K-12 students to think deeply? K-12 students’ brains have been numbed by endless test prep and testing. Smart educators are just saying ‘NO’! Many students must endure hours, semesters, or even years of sitting in classes being required to relearn what they already know. Students think deeply about what they are passionate about. It’s time to tap into those passions! As Colin told us, “We rarely encourage risk-taking and too often punish mistakes. Freedom to fail = Freedom to think.”

Engineers tend to struggle analyzing poetry. We need to make critical thinking transferable across subject areas. From the earliest years in school, cross-curricular teaching strategies can achieve a valuable liberal arts education. ‘Critical thinking’ should never rely on a single approach or methodology. Creative teaching is essential. Regarding professional development , Colin said, “it must be personalized and practical so teachers can apply it immediately. Otherwise, it’s just eye candy. Creativity, communication and collaboration must be embedded within all critical thinking activities.”

gtchat 08152017 Critical Thinking TL graphic

Content knowledge is much easier to assess than critical thinking skills. Colin suggests, “Just like GT testing, critical thinking assessment is best when it’s authentic and varied. Tie it to meaningful activities!” It should cover problem interpretation, inference, analysis explanation and evaluation skills. Critical thinking assessment tools take time to produce; worksheets and standardized testing need to be replaced.

“The crux of critical thinking assessment is students supporting their thinking with sound reasoning.” ~ Sarah Pfeiler, thinkLaw Team

Finally, we discussed practical methods and tools teachers can use to focus on critical thinking more regularly. Early on, teachers need to impress on students that there can be multiple solutions to problems; seek the best. Even very young students can be taught introspective skills; how does ‘what I know or believe’ affect decisions. Colin added, “Students who care about the problems they solve will persevere through the problem-solving process!” A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

gtchat 08152017 Critical Thinking TL graphic 2

 

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon NZST/10 AM AEST/1 AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Free Sample Lesson Download for #gtchat Participants

thinkLaw (Twitter)

The thinkLaw Team

thinkLaw (Facebook)

Silence is Not an Option: The Educators’ Call to Action #Charlottesville

6 Critical Thinking Questions for Any Situation

3 Tips for Helping All Students Become 21st Century Communicators

Critical Thinking Should Not Be a Luxury: 3 Strategies for Unleashing the Potential of Every Student

Three Tools for Teaching Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills

5 Questions Principals Should Ask to Assess Critical Thinking Instruction in Teacher Observations

3 Strategies for Increasing Student Voice in Your Classroom

Thinking Like a Lawyer: Powerful Strategies to Teach Critical Thinking to All Students (webinar)

Cybraryman’s Questioning Techniques Page

Cybraryman’s Critical Thinking Page

FlexFridays Take Learning Beyond the Classroom

Photo and logo courtesy of ThinkLaw.

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Helping Gifted Teens Cope with Anti-Intellectualism

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The teen years are hard … for everyone. It’s difficult to be a teen, but it’s also hard to parent and teach teens. When we consider bright, articulate, smart teens who have a passion for learning, we up the ante significantly. Having to deal with the effects of anti-intellectualism in of all places -school – can be devastating for many. It begins with name-calling and exclusion from social groups, but can escalate to more troubling actions.

What exactly is anti-intellectualism? Simply put, anti-intellectualism is hostility towards and mistrust of intellect, intellectuals and intellectual pursuits. (Wikipedia) It is the derision of education, philosophy, literature, art and science as impractical and contemptible.

Teens are particularly susceptible to the effects of anti-intellectualism. Peer groups are extremely important during these years and teens don’t want to be seen as geeks and nerds. Gifted teens don’t want to be stereotyped as intellectual and feel they’ll be unpopular and bullied. Many of them see athletes, artists, musicians favored by society and want to ‘fit in’.

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Image courtesy of Ashwani Garg, MD via Twitter

 Anti-intellectualism can manifest in schools in many different ways such as placing sports above academics. It can lead to ridicule and bullying of gifted students and especially twice exceptional kids. The rise of high school dropout rates is one indicator of the increase in anti-intellectualism.

There are some coping strategies which gifted teens can use to combat anti-intellectualism. Gifted teens need to develop self-awareness about the nature of their own intellect; choose a personal path forward. Confronting anti-intellectualism can only succeed when done in a positive manner. At some point, teens need to understand the roots of anti-intellectualism; why others feel this way.

How can parents and teachers help gifted teens deal with anti-intellectualism? They need to mentor GT teens by providing them information on the causes of anti-intellectualism. Also, they can serve as role-models for gifted teens; responding to anti-intellectualism appropriately as well as inform GT students about ways to self-advocate in the face of anti-intellectualism.

The consequences of anti-intellectualism for the future of our society may be severe. Anti-intellectualism at its very root rejects critical thinking and is against anything considered elite. The very ideas that move a society forward are now suspect; we come to hate the things that could save us. Anti-intellectualism brings with it higher crime rates and incarcerations; lower literacy rates; less social mobility.

It’s important not to trivialize the signs of anti-intellectualism if we are to continue moving forward as a civilization. As parents and teachers, we must understand the effects it has on our brightest students and work to support them in their endeavors. The transcript of this chat may be found at our Storify page.

 

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at 13.00 NZST/11.00 AEST/Midnight UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

 

Links:

Making It Safe to Be Smart

Anti-Intellectualism and the “Dumbing Down” of America

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1966) (Amazon)

The Age of American Unreason (Amazon)

Anti-intellectualism Is Killing America

The Cult of Ignorance in the US: Anti-Intellectualism & the Dumbing Down of America 

American Idyll: Academic Antielitism as Cultural Critique (Amazon)

Why Do US High Schools Typically have an Anti-Intellectual Atmosphere?

Education’s Anti-Intellectual Problem (pdf)

Anti-intellectualism in Schooling

Review of: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

Dumbing Down America: The War on Our Nation’s Brightest Young Minds (Amazon)

Is the US Education Bar Set Too Low For All Kids?

Lisa (Simpson) and American Anti-intellectualism (pdf)

Christchurch has Ingrained Anti-Intellectualism & Fear of Innovation & the Unknown

Discrimination against Excellence

Anti-Intellectualism in Education (1955 Preview Only)

Sprite’s Site: Dystopia

Photo courtesy of Pixabay  CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

 

Phenomenon-Based Learning

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Phenomenon-based learning is a cutting edge approach to education pioneered in Finland. It “does not include a strict set of rules, but rather comprises a combination of beliefs and best practices supported by ongoing research. In this approach, a classroom observes a real-life scenario or phenomenon – such as a current event or situation present in the student’s world – and analyzes it through an interdisciplinary approach.” [ref] In other words, it is the ultimate in project-based learning.

The benefits of phenomenon-based learning include showing students value in theories and information in the learning situation. Students use authentic methods, sources and tools; learning is intentional and goal-oriented.

Phenomenon-based learning is not without its critics. They believe it stretches students too thin; they become deterred from excelling in a particular field. Veteran teachers have resisted phenomenon-based learning; reluctant to give up authority in the classroom to students. They question the lack of providing prior knowledge to students before embarking on phenomenon-based learning. News reports in error stated that phenomenon-based learning replaces teaching traditional subjects which it does not.

Other types of learning can complement phenomenon-based learning. These include project-based learning; Socratic learning; and flipped-classrooms. It also works well with makerspaces and is responsive to student voice. Lisa Van Gemert added, “Essential Questions and the Depth & Complexity models both complement it as well.”

Phenomenon-based learning  can be used to meet the diverse needs of all students. Students from all backgrounds benefit from the structure and flexibility of phenomenon-based learning. Teachers can decide on potential project topics based on students background knowledge and personal experiences.

What strategies can teachers use to transition to phenomenon-based learning? Teachers should be open to altering teaching routines and mindsets; become well-versed in collaborative teaching. Transitioning to phenomenon-based learning does not mean abandoning traditional subject-based teaching. A transcript of this chat can be found at Storify.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at 13.00 NZST/11.00 AEST/Midnight UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Phenomenon-Based Learning: What is PBL?

Personally Meaningful Learning through Phenomenon-Based Classes

Finland: Replacing Subject with Phenomenon Based Learning (YouTube 3:39) https://goo.gl/1ErY7w

Finland’s Phenomenon Based Learning (YouTube 7:10) https://goo.gl/LYY6Ms

Finland Education Reform Introduces Phenomenon-Based Teaching

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where & Why It Happens (Amazon)

Finland’s School Reforms Won’t Scrap Subjects Altogether

Phenomenon Based Learning Teaching by Topics

General Aspects of Basic Education Curriculum Reform 2016 Finland (pdf)

Notes on the School of the Future and the Future of Learning 

Using Physical Science Gadgets & Gizmos, Grades 6-8: Phenomenon-Based Learning (Hawker Brownlow)

Learning and Teaching with Phenomenon

Elementary Science Phenomena Checklist and Bank (Google Doc)

Concern, Creativity, Compliance: Phenomenon of Digital Game-Based Learning in Norwegian Education

How to Come Up With an Engaging Phenomenon to Anchor a Unit (pdf)

Switching Gears into Transdisciplinary Learning

Georgia Science Teachers: Science GSE Phenomena Bank

Phenomenon Based Learning Rubric (pdf)

Work the Matters: The Teacher’s Guide to Project-Based Learning (pdf)

Phenomenon for NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards)

Using Phenomena in NGSS-Designed Lessons and Units (pdf)

Qualities of a Good Anchor Phenomenon for a Coherent Sequence of Science Lessons (pdf)

Phenomenon-based Learning: A Case Study

Jack Andraka: A Promising Test for Pancreatic Cancer … from a Teenager (TED talk)

Phenomena-Based Learning and Digital Content https://goo.gl/NYyRa6

Photo courtesy of Pixabay   CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Extending Student Voice to Gifted Students

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Accepting input from students concerning their education has become an important part of moving education forward today. Student voice isn’t necessarily spontaneous, and may need to be nurtured in students. It can be nurtured by creating positive student-teacher relationships. Student voice ‘doesn’t need adults to agree with it, incite it, define it, or appreciate it’. (Soundout.org) Student voice acknowledges and values what students are saying. It can empower students to become engaged in their learning and life.

“Student voice is empowering students to take charge of their education. It is powerful self-reflection. It motivates learning.” ~ CW Gifted Teacher

The role played by ‘respect’ when implementing student voice can’t be underestimated. When teachers listen to students, they show that what the student says is important; it shows respect. Respect is, however, a two-way street and student voice encourages all parties to listen and to value each other.

“Students need to know that what they have to say doesn’t need to be moderated or edited. Acknowledge their voice and respect by letting it go out into the wild without moderating or criticizing.” ~ Kimberley Moran, Education Writer and GT Teacher

In what way can student voice be promoted and improved in the classroom and schools? It can be promoted by taking time to welcome feedback through surveys and  by allowing students a say in classroom routines which can encourage them to provide their voice in class. Schools can improve the richness of student voice by actively responding to student concerns and suggestions.

Each student is unique and their ability, once identified, can play a significant role in how they express themselves. Higher-order thinking and deeper understanding of their environment can enhance a gifted student’s voice.

Yet, the question remains; how much voice should gifted students have in their educational options? Gifted students often have more options to consider and their voice plays an implicit and necessary role. It may not be about how much, but rather enough voice that they understand their investment in the process.

Student voice is a valuable concept in education today and must be acknowledged by teachers and administrators. It can reap rewards both in the classroom and for the student’s personal development. A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at 14.00 NZST/12.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Sound Out

Activating Student Voice Empowers Learning (pdf)

Student-Centered Learning with a Learning Platform (pdf)

School Voice Report 2016 (pdf)

Successful Education Requires a Stronger Student Voice

Three Ways Student Voice Can Elevate Motivation and Engagement

Motivation, Engagement & Student Voice (pdf)

Motivation, Engagement & Student Voice Toolkit (pdf)

A Model for Student Voice

How to Use Student Voice to Improve Engagement

Student Engagement and Vision

Student Gets ‘Seat at the Table’ on School’s Decision-Making Council 

Do You Know Me? The Voice of a Disgruntled Student in a Boring Class

Student Voice: Inspiring and Empowering Students to Take Charge of their Education 

Cybraryman’s Student Voice Page

Cybraryman’s What Students Want Page

Photo courtesy of Pixabay   CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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