Blog Archives

Building Empathy Through Critical Thinking

gtchat 03082018 thinkLaw

This week, Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT welcomed Colin Seale and Sarah Pfeiler of the team from thinkLaw to chat about “Building Empathy Through Critical Thinking” on Twitter. thinkLaw helps teachers teach critical thinking  through legal cases. To learn how your gifted students can benefit from thinkLaw’s standards-aligned program that helps educators teach critical thinking  to all students, click this link to schedule a brief call.

Colin Seale

Colin E. Seale, Founder & CEO

 

Sarah Pfeiler

Sarah Pfeiler, Curriculum & Training Manager 

 

GT students often experience a significant lack of empathy from their teachers at very young ages. It can cause a lifetime of discouragement when they feel misunderstood and marginalized by adults. When teachers fail to understand what the label ‘gifted’ entails – more than academics; it can create an atmosphere in which GT students no longer feel they should be expected to show emotions that aren’t extended to them.

 

Empathy pic thinkLaw

 

Students need to understand what empathy is and ways to express it. By opening a dialog on what it is and isn’t, students gain a greater appreciation of its importance in their own lives. Introducing the idea that empathy can improve both the student’s life and the lives of those around them becomes challenging when you realize that they’re only in school a fraction of their day. Home environment matters, too.

“We often see little empathy for gifted students because too many think “they are going to be just fine.” 4 students in my 2nd grade g/t class didn’t graduate from HS. They are not going to be “just fine.” And even if they were, is “just fine,” really good enough?” ~ Colin E. Seale

Emotional empathy can be extremely difficult to foster in classrooms where teachers are overworked, underpaid and expected to be defender, counselor and psychologist all while trying to teach. It can be integrated across the curriculum with careful and thoughtful planning and included by subtle reminders to students to think before they speak to or act toward others.

“Using mentor texts is a great way to teach empathy because it’s not personal.  You might select a story about a kid who is struggling socially but has a lot going on at home that people don’t know about. It’s harder for students to start with trying to understand what’s really going on behind the scenes with someone who is targeting or being mean to them.” ~ Sarah Pfeiler

Intellectual empathy must be modeled by teachers and administrators every single day. It isn’t enough to touch upon occasionally. It should be an integral part of lesson planning throughout the school year. It requires teachers to thoughtfully listen and respond to students in a respectful manner. GT students don’t tolerate ‘lip service’ when they are giving careful consideration to the questions they’re asked.

“Building Empathy vs. Academic Rigor is a false choice! When your instruction involves analysis of multiple perspectives, root cause analysis, collaboration, and design thinking, you necessarily enhance our students’ ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.” ~ Colin E. Seale

Intellectual empathy is drowned out by emphasis on test prep, lack of support staff, tight budgets and time constraints which redirect discourse to rote learning and preconceived notions of what is meant be ‘education’. It is not valued any longer by society; it’s not included in the standards. Base knowledge trumps comprehension in most general education classrooms where GT students spend a majority of their time.

We all can play a role in teaching empathy in an effort to build critical thinking. It’s important to realize the impact it has on the lives of students. 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 Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 2 PM NZST/Noon 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 and 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:

thinkLaw website

The thinkLaw Team

Help Me Understand: 4 Ways to Use Critical Thinking to Develop Empathy

The Critical Thinking Gap: How thinkLaw is Fighting the Equity Issue of Access to Deeper Learning

The State of Critical Thinking Part 1: What is Critical Thinking?

The State of Critical Thinking Part 2: Persevering When Thinking Gets Hard

Webinar: It’s Time for a Critical Thinking Revolution!

Empathy plus Critical Thinking equals Compassionate Action

What are the Importance and Benefits of “Critical Thinking Skills”?

How to Be Empathetic

How Dialogue Teaches Critical Thinking and Empathy

How Cross-Cultural Dialogue Builds Critical Thinking and Empathy

Compassionate Critical Thinking: How Mindfulness, Creativity, Empathy, and Socratic Questioning Can Transform Teaching (Amazon)

How Empathy Affects Learning, And How to Cultivate It In Your Students

Teaching Empathy through Design Thinking

Template Independent POV Project (Google Doc)

Bad Luck? An Exercise in Critical Thinking for St. Patrick’s Day (TPT)

Story Telling with Persona Dolls (pdf)

Cybraryman’s Empathy Page

Gifted Unit Plan (Google Doc)

40 Kindness Activities and Empathy Worksheets for Students and Adults

Five Principles of Extraordinary Math Teaching (TEDx 14:41)

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Children

The Care & Feeding of Advanced Readers Resources (Google Drive)

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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Educating Gifted Students for Global Competence

gtchat 08292017 Global

Global competence is not a subject often talked about in gifted circles, but it is widely discussed in the greater education community. Gifted and talented students need to be front and center in understanding the significance of becoming leaders on the global stage.

How exactly do we define global competence? It is the having the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance. Global competence is the acknowledgment that the world is qualitatively different from the industrial age and our educational systems must change in response to new challenges.

Many problems in our world today would benefit from having globally competent students. Climate instability is driving migration and immigration necessitating the need for global environmental stewardship. The digital revolution is triggering new concerns about cyber-security which require a new kind of graduate. How global markets operate, transnational production and social interactions demand a new approach to education.

What characteristics of gifted students make them well-suited for success in a global age? They are often deep thinkers who can understand & solve emerging global problems. Many gifted students are empathic to diverse perspectives and act toward the common good. They often have the ability to thoughtfully and respectfully articulate their position.

There are obstacles to changing the focus of instruction in today’s schools. Policymakers are rarely prepared to seriously and effectively think about education for a truly global era. There is a deep distrust of education in many places that attempts to transcend borders. Few people seem prepared to take into consideration cultures, values or priorities of nations different from their own.

What does quality instruction for global competence look like? First, it identifies engaging topics of local and global significance. Quality instruction must use global competence-centered assessments and focus on outcomes.

In the future, globally competent students will be able to use big ideas, tools, methods and languages in any discipline to solve pressing issues. They can recognize multiple perspectives, communicate effectively & take action to improve conditions. A transcript of this week’s chat can 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 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:

Educating for Global Competence: Learning Redefined for an Interconnected World (pdf)

Mastering Global Literacy Contemporary Perspectives on Literacy (Amazon)

Global Competence Aptitude Assessment

Connected Courses Active Co-Learning in Higher Ed

Skype in the Classroom

SENG Connect

Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything Twitter for Teachers

The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners (Amazon)

Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era (Amazon)

An Attainable Global Perspective (pdf 1976)

EU: European Strategy (Maastricht Global Education Declaration) (pdf)

Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World

Education for Global Leadership (pdf)

How Education Changes: Considerations of History, Science & Values (pdf Gardner)

Education for Citizenship in an Era of Global Connection (pdf)

Five Minds for the Future (Amazon)

Learning in the Global Era (pdf)

Veronica Boix Mansilla – Global Competence (YouTube 12:11)

The Global Classroom Project

Global Education Conference

Cure What Ails You: A Dose of Twitter for Every Day

Connecting Your Students with the World: Tools and Projects to Make Global Collaboration Come Alive, K-8 (Amazon)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay  CC0 Creative Commons

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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

gtchat 08152017 Critical Thinking

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.

Strategies for Teaching Critical Thinking

gtchat 04052016 Critical Thinking

 

“Critical thinking is not to be devoured in a single sitting nor yet at two or three workshops. It is a powerful concept to be savored and reflected upon. It is an idea to live and grow with. It focuses upon that part of our minds that enables us to think things through, to learn from experience, to acquire and retain knowledge.” ~ Paul Hurd, State of Critical Thinking Today

Research indicates that having a standard definition of critical thinking can enhance its teaching. (Choy/Cheah 2009) According to Hurd (2004), “Critical thinking is the art of thinking about thinking with a view to improving it. Critical thinkers seek to improve thinking, in three interrelated phases. They analyze thinking. They assess thinking. And they up-grade thinking (as a result).”

“Critical thinking is the ability to conceptualise, analyse, synthesize, evaluate information and challenge assumptions.” ~ Jo Freitag, Gifted Resources 

In light of the importance of teaching critical thinking, we turned out attention to discussing whether or not teachers are being prepared at the undergraduate level or subsequently during professional development opportunities to do so. Most were in agreement that not only are teachers not prepared, but their time is preoccupied with test prep. Also, they lack incentive to promote thinking which doesn’t support support standardized testing and is difficult to assess. Only one teacher at this chat reported working in a district that actively supports and expects the teaching of critical thinking.

What strategies work best for teaching critical thinking? Educators need to act as facilitators of discussions that may not result in ‘right’ answers. One strategy involves writing essays based on prompts that adhere to Bloom’s Taxonomy of  Higher Order Thinking. (Smith/Szymanski 2013). Another is to have students create a wiki about subject they’re studying or analyze existing wikis; enhance tech skills. (Snodgrass 2011) Other strategies offered included teaching students questioning techniques, problem-based learning, identify the ‘big’ ideas, and stepping back to listening to student-voice. For more ideas, see links below.

Assessing critical thinking skills can be difficult, but it can be done. Assessment of critical thinking instruction can include course evaluation; analyze students’ understanding of critical thinking Teachers can assess whether students can reason between conflicting viewpoints. Educators should continually provide valuable feedback to students before considering assessment. One school mentioned during chat experimented with newspaper blackout poems, and analyzed each article for bias to practice critical thinking here.

“Critical thinkers know how to ask the RIGHT questions.” ~ Stacy Hughes, a Texas teacher

What are some intellectual traits of a critical thinker? Critical thinkers have ability to realize personal limitations; recognize personal bias; willing to work through complexities. They are willing to change when faced with evidence contrary to their own beliefs.

“Whether enrolled in preschool, elementary, middle, or high school, the integration of critical thinking skills into the daily content and lessons is essential for achieving …(Tomlinson, 2003). This infusion, along with also taking into account student interest, readiness, and learning styles, provides the foundation and walls for raising the ceiling of students’ scholastic growth and intellectual stimulation.” ~ McCollister and Sayler in Lift the Ceiling

The benefits of learning how to think critically can extend throughout a student’s life. During their school years, in-depth focus on enhancing critical thinking increases rigor & standardized test scores (Van- Tassel Baska, et al. 2009). By tracking patterns in information – seeing info as a process; students develop skills of recognition and prediction. Students who can think deeply, make relevant connections and reasoned decisions; value and respect ideas of others. They can think independently; consider multiple perspectives; go beyond surface learning. A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

gtchat-logo-new bannner

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 (12.00) NZST/10.00 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:

Teaching Gifted Kids to Explain Their Thinking 

When Kids Have Structure for Thinking, Better Learning Emerges

Preparing Leaders for Deeper Learning

Assessing Deeper Learning: A Survey of Performance Assessment and Mastery-Tracking Tools (pdf)

6 Entry Points for Deeper Learning

10 Great Critical Thinking Activities That Engage Your Students

Tech That Spurs Critical Thinking l

Applied Disciplines: A Critical Thinking Model for Engineering

The State of Critical Thinking Today: The Need for a Substantive Concept of Critical Thinking (pdf)

Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life (Amazon)

The Question Game: A Playful Way To Teach Critical Thinking

6 Rules to Break for Better, Deeper-Learning Outcomes

How Do We Raise Critical Thinkers? (Infographic)

The Importance of Teaching Critical Thinking

Lift the Ceiling: Increase Rigor with Critical Thinking Skills (pdf)

Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools (pdf)

Intellectual Growth, School, and Thriving of the Gifted (pdf) in TEMPO Page 9

Infusing Teaching of Critical & Creative Thinking into Content Instruction for Elem Grades (Amazon)

Teaching Critical Thinking in Age of Digital Credulity 

Critical Thinking Pathways

What It Means To Think Critically

Using a Question Building Chart to Provoke Student Thought

Sprite’s Site: Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking Testing and Assessment

Cybraryman’s Critical Thinking Page

Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners (Amazon)

Defining Critical Thinking

Orientation Lecture Series: Learning to Learn Developing Critical Thinking Skills (pdf)

How to Foster Critical and Creative Thinking

Photo courtesy of Pixabay. CC0 Public Domain  Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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