Tagged “Critical Thinking”

Laura Varlas

Core Criteria for Collaborative Conversations

The Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards have drawn new attention to how these skills are developed across curriculum and across grade bands. In their 2014 ASCD Annual Conference session, "Collaborative Conversations: Meeting Anchor Standard 1 in Speaking and Listening," authors Nancy Frey and Doug Fisher were enthusiastic about the potential within these curricular shifts. "Our world will be different when adolescents are prepared for and participating in collaborative discussions with diverse partners, building on others' ideas, and expressing their own clearly and persuasively," noted Fisher.

Consider how your classroom has changed since 2010, asked Frey. She related that, in her own practice, the word "evidence" never appeared on a language chart used in her classroom. "It just wasn't on our radar." Now, kids are supporting their opinions with evidence in classroom discussions.

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Whole Child Symposium

Transforming Schools to Become Innovation Ready

Post written by Laura Varlas

Because tests don't require connection and collaboration, classroom education is being driven in one direction, while technology enables creation, curation, and connection.

Educators are up against a global achievement gap, Tony Wagner explained in his 2014 ASCD Annual Conference session, "Graduating All Students 'Innovation Ready.'" That is, the gap between the skills students need and the skills that are driven by the testing culture dominating U.S. education.

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John Hines

Never Ask a Question You Already Know the Answer To

Often as teachers we follow this movie lawyer cliché in our classrooms: We ask questions that we have seen lead our students through a lesson like a well-rehearsed play. While the actors may change, the roles and the conclusion remain the same. It allows us to avoid surprises and the distractions, disruptions, and conflict that comes with them. The problem with this classroom is that is a poor reflection of how learning actually happens. Learning never proceeds forward like a predictable comedy or drama, it is often surprising, and it is filled with distraction, disruption, and conflict.

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Kit Harris, ASCD Research

ED Pulse Poll Results: What Is the Most Important Task That Could Be Accomplished by Teaching Using Essential Questions?

ASCD continually seeks to provide solutions to the challenges that face educators of all levels. Recently, the ASCD SmartBrief ED Pulse poll asked readers about tasks that can be achieved by employing essential questions.

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Kevin Parr

Personalized Learning: A View from the Factory Floor

Personalized learning seems like such a perfect model of teaching and learning. In fact, "student-driven, competency-based learning that can happen any time, anywhere" seems too good to be true. As teachers we read about schools implementing personalized learning and we immediately turn to utopian dreams of working there and teaching that way. Soon after, we realize we don't teach in that school and lament "if only ..." We pinpoint reasons why the personalized learning models portrayed in the articles would be impossible within the confines of our school or district still based on the factory model. In the interest of our students we must move beyond that kind of thinking. Fortunately, we can if we keep our ideals in mind and work with what we have. We simply need to shift the conversation from all the reasons why we can't completely personalize student learning, to how we can make learning more personal.

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Thom Markham

Reframing Resiliency: Let’s Make It an Outcome

The whole child movement, in my view, is weighed down by society's current inability to conceive of children as whole beings. Instead, we dissect them. Academic learning is distinguished from social-emotional learning, as if brain and heart operate in isolation. The brain itself gets divided into forebrain, hindbrain, mammalian brain, limbic system, and so on, furthering the mistaken assumption that the brain performs its miracles through isolated modules. A steady diet of units, pacing guides, and curriculum strategies reinforces this skewed view by taking a narrow aim at stimulating a child's cognitive apparatus rather than their inner life.

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Philip Yenawine

Teaching to the (New) Tests: The Benefits of Discussion

It's no secret that many teachers are wondering how to ensure all students "read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently" by the end of high school. Similarly they are unsure of how to help all "read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text." Ditto to "integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words." And they have similar concerns for how to promote acceptance of diverse viewpoints, broadly useful oral communication skills, or the ability to listen and interact with others productively. At this point, many teachers cope with students unable to solve rote math problems and articulate how they did it, let alone find more than one solution. Yet all of these abilities (and more) are required to achieve Common Core anchor standards.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

The Whole Child Is a Resilient Child

Post written by Bonnie Benard

To build the resilience of students who face adversity, we need to nurture the whole spectrum of their developmental needs.

Forty years of resilience research following children who face multiple challenges into adulthood has yielded a surprising but consistent finding: Most children and youth—even those coming from highly stressed or abusive families or from resource-deprived communities—do somehow manage to overcome their often overwhelming odds and become "competent, confident, and caring" adults (Werner & Smith, 2001).

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

The Best Education Ideas in the World: Adventures on the Frontiers of Learning

ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show

Post written by Jessica DuBois-Maahs, a Medill School of Journalism candidate at Northwestern University concentrating in finance reporting and interactive publishing and business reporter for MediaTec Publishing in Chicago, Ill.

Gary Stager has taught in classrooms all around the world, and he said the common thread that binds exceptional learning experiences together is hands-on project-based learning.

In his 2013 ASCD Annual Conference session, "The Best Education Ideas in the World: Adventures on the Frontiers of Learning," Stager showed attendees videos of elementary school students building robots and solving complex engineering problems while appearing to enjoy the process.

The audience members smiled and clapped as they watched a young Australian student use nothing but pipe cleaners, LEGO blocks, and her brain to build a toy ballerina that spun. In his presentation, Stager theorized that this type of project-based learning can propel modern curricula because students use critical thinking in multiple disciplines to create the end result.

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Elyssa Greenberg

Learning for the Long Run

Today's world is entirely different than the one in which I was born. For context, I'm only 20 years old. Among all the advances in science and technology occurring every day are incredible advances in education and child development. We know more now than ever before about how the brain works and how that translates to learning. The research is quite clear: there are many types of learners, and the most effective ways of teaching convey the information in a variety of formats. Lessons that are engaging, interactive, and creative are best for knowledge retention.

One of my most memorable learning experiences was an 8th grade World History unit in which we researched and took on roles in a mock trial for Joan of Arc. Instead of reading a chapter in a book and answering quiz questions, we each prepared a series of statements to reevaluate the court's sentence in a modern context. Cast as Joan herself, I was quite relieved to be found "not guilty," but the real takeaway is found in the overarching lessons from this activity.

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