Thursday, November 24, 2016

This article outlines how to teach students critical thinking across content. I am thinking a good writer must apply these thinking strategies while writing - and then transfer it to print. Take a look and see what you think. Courtesy of Mind/Shift.

Three Tools for Teaching Critical Thinking


Jason Watt had trouble empowering his middle school students to push their thinking further. Many students already had deeply ingrained ideas about what they were and weren't good at, what they could and couldn't accomplish. In a training on "integrative thinking" at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, Watt finally found the tools he needed to develop students' critical thinking. Several Ontario school boards are now supporting training in the effort.

Integrative thinking involves these three tools:

Ladder of inference
The ladder of inference is a model for decision-making behavior developed by Harvard professors Chris Argyris and Donald Schön. Students learn how decisions are made and identify how assumptions can lead to conclusions, including false ones. By knowing how decisions are made, students can think more critically about situations. Watt's students use this technique to solve social disputes as well. "We've learned that there's nothing wrong with questioning, so the kids have become much more willing and accepting of criticism because it's not really criticism anymore."

Decisions are often weighed in pros and cons, but integrative thinking asks students to see multiple positive sides of an idea, even in terrible ones. Students then combine those ideas to create another idea. "The students now are no longer afraid to think," Watt said. "They're being more creative thinkers." He even uses integrative thinking in math instruction, asking students to use the ladder of inference to determine information in a word problem, or asking them to do Pro/Pro charts for different multiplication strategies and then letting them come up with their own third way. His students' math scores started skyrocketing, and even better, they no longer felt they weren't "math people."

Causal Model
Teacher Jennifer Warren starts the first semester by asking students to do a causal model of their values. She asks them to pick three to five things they value, anything from profound qualities like independence or kindness, to passions like music or hockey. They then dive deeply into why they value those qualities and ask questions like, what caused that? Often this requires them to have conversations with family about values taught to them from a young age.

She then asks them to make visual representations of their causal models and present them to one another. "I like that because they realize people don't value the same things that they do," Warren said. Those causal models go up on the wall as a reminder that everyone in the class is different and that the diversity of values, perspectives and opinions makes them better problem solvers.
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Friday, November 18, 2016

Strong writers build knowledge first

Solve the problem of "I don't know what to write," once and for all by cultivating student expertise on the topics they are studying. Deep content knowledge and strong vocabulary are the building blocks of an engaging composition. Here's how to help students develop a content-rich base for their writing, and then use genre study to uncover the tools for conveying that knowledge. Read now.

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

An e-mail from Corbett Harrison. Enjoy!

I'm a bit behind on getting the new November lesson of the month posted.  I'm not only grading midterms from my online class, but I'm prepping to head to the NAGC Conference in Orlando.  I'll post the new November lesson when I'm back; it's about teaching your students to design their own graphic/advance organizers, so it should be worth the wait.
I'll remind you of last November's Writing Lesson of the Month: Rhe-Turk-ical Triangles  Review or introduce the rhetorical triangle with your students; then, apply the strategy to a turkey trying to talk its way out of being served at Thanksgiving.  The lesson comes with a mentor text, a video that explains the Rhetorical Triangle in simple terms, and some great student models!  Plus there's a contest!  Scroll to the bottom of the lesson for contest information.
And the Pinterest vote count is in!  Kudos to our top-scoring writer's notebook metaphor for 2016: My writer's notebook is a train that runs through my imagination.  It comes from 6th grader Shayna who's in Ms. Rosenthal's classroom!  It worth sharing with your students if they are keeping writer's notebooks too! So are the other three student metaphors that received lots of votes too!
--Corbett Harrison
Visit Writing Lesson of the Month Network at:
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