so…what did we learn??

hi hello, welcome to the final blog post. at last!

i feel like this has been a long journey, but lbr, a lot of us are posting these frantically to hit that 4 post 10 comment minimum requirement!!! don’t be ashamed, it was bound to happen from the start, no matter how much prompting was given for us to start earlier. we made it.

anyway, here’s a funny video that is vaguely about critical thinking without being very serious or accurate, it’s just plain entertaining, and it’ll have you going “MEEEEE” at multiple points, so that’s fun.

so…what did we learn? not from the video, but like, the other blog posts in general. and even better, how can we apply this into our teaching practice? here i have some fun, quick, and easy steps to start teaching critical thinking.

  1. use think-alouds and questioning in your teaching
    •  just like the previous post with the woman reading aloud to her class, make short stops at different intervals to remind students to be thinking about the story in a critical way—in this case, by making questions. even prompting questions or deeper thinking by asking those through provoking questions aloud while you’re reading can help get the gears in motion. the more questioning we encourage, the more critical thinking skills are accessible.
  2. get creative with your check for understanding
    • my sponsor teacher does this funny thing where he randomly (but purposely) says the wrong thing—like substituting apple for orange—in a repeated instruction. that’s his quick and easy way of checking for understanding. lots of kids are super quick and responsive to things like this, the sillier the better. of course, this might not work in a really young class or a much older group, but i think the sweet spot sits between grades 2-5. it’s fun and easy and allows students who aren’t catching those changes to start to watch out for them, thus engaging them in listening. alternatively, it inadvertently forces kids to do that quick “wait…does that make sense?” check in their own heads. this leads to questions or, for more advanced critical thinkers, coming to a solution in a logical order.
  3.  use guided inquiry to challenge students perceptions
    • things like mystery doug/mystery science are great examples of guided inquiry lessons that scaffold and engage students while also presenting them with inquiry-based learning that can challenge common perceptions kids may subscribe to. presenting students with commonly believed myths or ideas and then providing them with the evidence and tools to disprove this can help students naturally end up at these conclusions themselves. instead of telling students that light travels in a linear path, have them explore that idea and come to that conclusion themselves. it’s far more engaging and far more interesting.
  4. in the vice versa of the previous, present students with the challenge of disproving perceptions
    • one example of this is having students work in pairs or groups to make a project for why recess shouldn’t be banned in schools, or doing an “adults for the day” exercise where students are tasked with planning out their ideal day as an adult and then play a “LIFE”-esque game where students are presented with challenges and circumstances that get in the way of doing whatever they want. these types of activities force students to think critically about what they value and what they already know, as well as encouraging students to search outside of their lived experience and consider the perspective or circumstance of others. these activities are just some examples of what are, basically, endless possibilities!!!
  5. start early!!!!
    • honestly, this one seems pretty self-explanatory. start early! kids as young as three can start thinking critically, obviously in a different capacity to that of a thirteen year old but hey! still valid. critical thinking skills are learned, nurtured, and need time to develop properly. we can’t expect to start teaching critical thinking one day and have it stick from then on. just like reading, writing, math, etcetera, it! needs! time!!

so, there. we have come to the end. hopefully this has been helpful or interesting or something. i’ve learned a lot, mostly that four blog posts is a lot more than i think it is.

thanks for tuning in amigos. auf wiedersehen!

mj

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wow critical thinking is in literacy too?!?!?!?

buongiorno, 

after all the talking in class about the critical thinking competency i thought i’d share this video that highlights some great strategies and ideas for how critical thinking supports and can be integrated into literacy activities:

and hey! here’s a link to this lesson plan, as well as even more free resources (based out of ontario)

so this is modelled off of the “balanced literacy diet” format. it’s basically “a framework that presents literacy concepts using the familiar terminology of a healthy diet”. this is really cool resource that has different “food groups” that, when combined, build a pyramid for both reading and writing skills. it does a great job of breaking down all the components and skills that make up the foundation for literacy.

Reading Pyramid extra small

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Pyramid extra small

 

 

 

 

 

 

the great thing about this visual is it very easily shows where to start for both skills, you can’t build a pyramid starting in the middle or the top or even favour one side over the other, it needs a strong foundation in order to be accurate and withstand the tests of time. obviously, this is a metaphor. the visuals also nicely illustrate where the skills overlap. you can notice that in order to be successful in writing, half the battle is foundational reading skills. it’s a natural progression one skill to the next, and it really helps guide our practice by giving us a starting point.

all in all? as i said in my last post, critical thinking is in everything. in the same way historical ways of thinking apply to a specific context, as do these. the only difference being that critical literacy skills are foundational in all subjects. i guess you could argue critical thinking skills ARE literacy skills…and honestly? ur probably right. i’m not gonna argue, it’s 1:30am and i can’t think about thinking anymore today.

thanks for ur time, goodnight and good luck, etc. etc. etc.

mj

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historical thinking is ALSO critical thinking? nice!

hallo fellow studes (students)!

so after theresa’s class(es) on historical ways of thinking, i started thinking (haha) about how the combination of all of these different perspectives is, essentially, a tailored critical thinking framework. in review, here are the six historical ways of thinking:

  • historical significance
  • evidence and interpretation
  • continuity and changes
  • cause and consequence
  • historical and cultural perspective
  • ethical judgement

and, to refresh your memory, here are the seven core critical thinking concepts:

  1. analyzing
  2. applying standards
  3. discriminating
  4.  information seeking
  5. logical reasoning
  6.  predicting
  7. transforming knowledge

now, because we were all in class and we definitely took very thorough notes (pssst, theresa has a powerpoint about all the historical ways of thinking on d2l) i’m not going to re-explain the specificities of each historical way of thinking. instead, i’m going to copy and paste the notes from the last post and clearly insert where these thinking concepts fit in!:

  1. analyzing (historical thinking)
    – breaking down ideas, events, or concepts to discover their significance, function and relationships.
  2. applying standards (historical and cultural perspective)
    – judging according to established or agreed upon personal, professional, or social rules and criteria.
  3. discriminating (historical significance, again)
    – comparing and contrasting ideas, events, and concepts, and distinguishing significance or purpose
  4.  information seeking (evidence and interpretation)
    – finding evidence, facts, or knowledge by seeking out relevant and appropriate sources and gathering various types of information (objective, subjective, historical, and current) from multiple reliable sources.
  5. logical reasoning (ethical judgement)
    – inferencing or drawing conclusions that are supported and justified by relevant and appropriate evidence
  6.  predicting (cause and consequence)
    – considering an event, concept, or idea and its potential impact and consequences
  7. transforming knowledge (continuity and changes) 
    – altering or reinventing the circumstance, significance, details, or function of specific concepts, events, and knowledge and applying these alterations in various contexts to assess the changed outcome

because each HWOT (why didn’t i abbreviate this sooner??) approach is unique in what is prioritized, individually they are only as well-rounded as the ground they can cover with their magnified lenses. because each perspective has a unique and narrow scope, a HWOT approach grounded in critical thinking skills would be incorporating all of these to create a lens that takes into account all aspects of a situation or event in order to analyze it effectively and fairly.

when we think (how many times can i use “think” in one blog post????? let’s count!) about historical thinking we can tend to fixate on the historical component; analyzing events from the past that we recognize (or don’t) for their consequences, lasting impacts, evidence,  perspectives, and so forth. however, these ways of thinking are imperative to understanding ourselves in a present (and future!) context as well.

i found a really neat pdf of a textbook about critical thinking as the “heart” of historical thinking. this was rad to find because not only did it mean that there is a clear connection between these two strains, but also, it proves that critical thinking should always be a foundational piece of our pedagogy. they also supplied me with yet another list to share with y’all. so here are there eight basic elements of thought:

  • point of view
  • purpose
  • implications and consequences
  • assumptions
  • concepts
  • interpretation and inference
  • information
  • question an issue

are we seeing the pattern??? if not, i made a quick list that illustrates what i’m trying to say here:

  • THEY!
  • ARE!
  • ALL!
  • THE!
  • SAME!
  • IDEAS!
  • IN DIFFERENT!
  • CONTEXTS!
  • CRITICAL
  • THINKING
  • TIES
  • AND MAINTAINS
  • CONNECTIONS
  • BETWEEN
  • ANY
  • AND ALL
  • TYPES
  • OF
  • SUBJECTS!
  • CRITICAL
  • THINKING
  • CAN BE
  • APPLIED
  • IN ANY
  • CONTEXT!

so…long story short? historical thinking is critical thinking in disguise, a contextual cloak, if you will. if we approach multiple subjects, topics, events, etcetera with these ways of thinking, think (25 times, apparently) of all the deep and interesting inquiry opportunities this would offer!! i’m not gonna give you a concrete example (at least not right now), that’s a fun exercise for you to do with all these nEw and ExCiTiNg discoveries!

until next time,

mj

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critical thinking 101 aka 7 core critical thinking skills

hola!

so to start with this undoubtedly interesting string of blog posts, i thought i’d begin by sharing what general academia tells me are the 7 core critical thinking skills. broadly defined and put into my own words, *daniel cook voice* here they are!:

  1. analyzing
    – breaking down ideas, events, or concepts to discover their significance, function and relationships.
  2. applying standards
    – judging according to established or agreed upon personal, professional, or social rules and criteria. 
  3. discriminating
    – comparing and contrasting ideas, events, and concepts, and distinguishing significance or purpose 
  4.  information seeking
    – finding evidence, facts, or knowledge by seeking out relevant and appropriate sources and gathering various types of information (objective, subjective, historical, and current) from multiple reliable sources. 
  5. logical reasoning
    – inferencing or drawing conclusions that are supported and justified by relevant and appropriate evidence 
  6.  predicting
    – considering an event, concept, or idea and its potential impact and consequences 
  7. transforming knowledge
    – altering or reinventing the circumstance, significance, details, or function of specific concepts, events, and knowledge and applying these alterations in various contexts to assess the changed outcome

with all of these in mind, i think they reinforce my idea of using critical thinking as an integral part of metacognitive function in students.

when we talk about learning about how we learn, we are essentially participating in the analyzing step of this list; we’re trying to understand ourselves enough to articulate our needs.

next, we begin to decide if our ways of thinking, knowing, doing, feeling, etcetera, fit within a certain frame of values, such as: will my teacher allow me to use a laptop to take notes? will i get to do hands on projects? will we be working independently or in groups? so on an so forth. this process easily fits in with step two (aka applying standards.)

of course, not every student learns the same way, and most students learn in different ways for different types of subjects and situations. when we teach students how to recognize and acknowledge these variances we’re basically discriminating between our own ways of learning, knowing, doing, and feeling. this can also happen when we look at group work: who does what job (alternatively said: who serves what function in this setting?), how do we use everyone’s strengths to make this project work (alternatively: what makes the most sense in this context?)

number four (information seeking) is a bit trickier to work in. if we continue to zoom in even more, we (i) could (and will) argue that this step is related to how we consume and process information. if we know how we learn best, and what contexts our different learning styles apply to, we can begin to understand how we know what we know, why we do what we do, why we think what we think; we can begin to pick apart how we’ve come to know things by analyzing what we’ve prioritized in our learning journey. this isn’t quite as literal and easy to connect as the other ideas, but if you focus on the emphasis of gathering information, you can see how the connection between understanding ourselves influences how and why we consume certain media and behave in interactions. with all the groundwork from steps 1-3, we can start to understand ourselves so well to a point we can recognize personal bias and how to remove (or add!) our subjective opinions to relate and contrast with information. this is also tied to logical reasoning in that we are using (or setting aside) previous knowledge and taking in new information to come to a new conclusion.

when we are able to think about our thinking with this much naunce, we will begin to recognize patterns in our thoughts, behaviours, beliefs, and actions. this is very obviously linked to predicting. in other circles it’s called intuition, especially when we refer to feelings we have about certain ideas, situations, and people. the idea that this is an innate feeling is somewhat misleading; we aren’t born knowing how to sense danger and something suspicious at the same cognitive level as we do as full-grown humans. it’s primarily nurtured over time through various lived experiences and life lessons.

and then of course, step seven (transforming knowledge) is what i (we) are doing right now! knowing how i learn best means i can talk about how i think and alter my circumstances. this isn’t something that is easy to do, or rather, it’s not something you just grow into. critical thinking skills need to be taught and practiced just like any other skill and learning outcome. by doing this intentionally (rather than stumbling across a miraculous *LeArNiNg OpPoUrTuNiTy*) you’re better setting up your students for success in the long term.

how? how does it work? how do we teach it? well that’s what you and i (mostly me, tbh) are going to figure out!

until next post, pals…

mj

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oh look, a post!

bienvenue!

my inquiry topic will be focused on how we can teach critical thinking and consumption as a tool for metacognition. that’s a fancy way of saying: teaching kids how to think about things so they can be self-aware and, by virtue, better humans.

ask me questions and leave comments, i love attention!

mj

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