Dear Colleagues,

You did it! Thank you for sticking with the program to complete all seven episodes.

How useful did you find the planning process described in the program? Does it vary from the method or methods you have used to plan classes in the past and, if so, to what extent will you incorporate this new planning process into your routine?

What new ideas do you have regarding teaching your students to think critically? I would be very happy to read your overall reflections on the course and the most important action step you will take based on this experience.

Warm regards,

Dan Pier

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Replies to This Discussion

Daniel,

I would have liked the episodes to include lessons in different subject areas showing the integrated link as of lesson two. The importance of critical thinking is the movement from the lower skills to the higher skills as many of the teachers highlighted in their comments. The planning process has to be adapted based on topic and subject content. 

I included a field trip in one of my lessons and it was well received. It helped the understanding and questioning for higher order critical thinking skills.

I taught at both primary and secondary schools and the lessons had to be adapted both in form and content. While the skills are pertinent to age groups the skills should be exposed from a whole school perspective (building on the scaffolding of the previous class). The content of the episodes could have included a general topic rather than an issue that pertains to a particular group of people. English speaking and speaking english carries accent on different words which carry different meanings. Critical thinking is all about finding meaning and the lessons learnt will help the teacher to facilitate learning if adapted adequately.

I will say more in my report.

Gale 

Excelent information! very useful!! I will implement some steps that I have missed in classes. I am working on my new lesson plannings. We, teachers, need to help students build higher level thinking skils and now I know the strategies on what  to do it, how to link the information. My colleagues are expecting my workshop on critical thinking, too.!!

I incuded on my lesson the design of a tourist guide!

Dan, this was a great opportunity! thanks for leading and being close reading all our thoughts and to all colleagues, great, too!. For me it has helped me to involve my students in creative thinking, I have new ideas for them, At the beginning it looked hard to put ideas, and Bloom`s taxonomy aligned with objectives, but is great. I am ready to share with other colleagues who are eager to learn and put in practice the steps, my 1st. college ESL English level. Thanks...With regards to all,  Glenda

 I noticed that nearly all the teachers in this community are either in Secondary, High School, College or University so I am sure if it may be a bit easier for you to plan lessons for the older children using the 5 step process. However, I am an Early Childhood Teacher and I find that using and connecting the steps for my level of children would demands more creativity on my part to gain and keep children's attention. I find too that I would have to have my lesson in parts  (on different days) to accomplish my objectives.

What I really love about this overall program is that it has helped me to develop activities and questions at the higher levels that would aide students use of higher order thinking skills (HOTS). 

Presently I am working on my plan, trying to ensure that my objectives link to my questions, activities, and evaluation.  Scaffolding is a very important aspect of developing critical thinking skills as this course has taught me, and now I am practicing more of asking probing questions so that children can think and make better decisions. 

I am indeed happy that I signed up for this course because I am better than I came in. I learnt some new things: The Socratic Seminar, also  that the Scientific Method can be used for any subject area and not just for science. Most importantly, I have learned how to plan my lessons linking all the parts. I must say though that to link the parts together is my  challenge, but I am giving it my best effort. 

Thanks Daniel and the team for your support and work, thus making this course a success and memorable experience for all of us here.

Regards,

Shonella

Shonella, you are right!! it is not easy to link the parts together, objectives and questions. For your elementary students must be harder but as you say, it is everyday practice and a lesson can take more than a day to complete it. I am getting used to the Socratic seminar as I havent used before.

I am working on my unit plan too, linking all elements together, scaffolding ideas, but in the meantime I have been introducing the idea  of higher critical thinking and students are demanding when  their point o view is valued, their responses are important, when they are in charge of the activity!! 
Shonella Morgan said:

 I noticed that nearly all the teachers in this community are either in Secondary, High School, College or University so I am sure if it may be a bit easier for you to plan lessons for the older children using the 5 step process. However, I am an Early Childhood Teacher and I find that using and connecting the steps for my level of children would demands more creativity on my part to gain and keep children's attention. I find too that I would have to have my lesson in parts  (on different days) to accomplish my objectives.

What I really love about this overall program is that it has helped me to develop activities and questions at the higher levels that would aide students use of higher order thinking skills (HOTS). 

Presently I am working on my plan, trying to ensure that my objectives link to my questions, activities, and evaluation.  Scaffolding is a very important aspect of developing critical thinking skills as this course has taught me, and now I am practicing more of asking probing questions so that children can think and make better decisions. 

I am indeed happy that I signed up for this course because I am better than I came in. I learnt some new things: The Socratic Seminar, also  that the Scientific Method can be used for any subject area and not just for science. Most importantly, I have learned how to plan my lessons linking all the parts. I must say though that to link the parts together is my  challenge, but I am giving it my best effort. 

Thanks Daniel and the team for your support and work, thus making this course a success and memorable experience for all of us here.

Regards,

Shonella

Shonella,

Management of the lesson is important in this instance. Many teachers are trained to address the student rather than the learning. They focus on understanding content rather than understanding processes. I am teaching all levels in the system and I can see how critical thinking can be applied at all levels in all subjects. The teacher/facilitator has to be very alert to changes of movement within the teaching/learning process. The only difference is volume when teaching. I believe it is at the early childhood level that critical thinking is best applied as this is the elvel children ask 'why' to all learning. When we plan lessons we intend to place learning rather draw learning. The objectives must be sequential. If teaching a concept you cannot dwell on giving too much seat practice but dwell on the student getting the foundation of the learning taking place. Then reinforce at the next lesson and at every lesson you need to use this concept, recall this concept. I know it may sound hard but with practice it can be done. You are a builder of (minds) learning. Take your time and build skills while drawing knowledge and experience from the learner. Remember VASK when teaching.

The episodes have not addressed these areas but they have helped in placing skills at the service of the inexperienced teacher which they can build on as is done in scaffolding. Always remember when you teach you are also learning.

Hope this helps.

Gale

Dear Shonella,

Thank you for your insights. I am happy to know that you found the programme valuable for your early childhood teaching; this is the intention, though clearly the examples and the storyline are more directly relevant to middle or high school teachers. I have two suggestions regarding applying your learning to that setting:

1. Please note that there is an interest group entitled "Early Childhood" in this virtual community. I suggest you join it. I see that it has not been very active lately, but I will post the resource below as a conversation starter.

2. You mentioned appreciation for the Socratic seminar, which is a very nice method for middle or high school, but of course it would be difficult for pre-schoolers to truly lead a discussion on their own. A structure or method that is in some ways similar and is more geared toward that age group is the Morning Meeting, which is part of the Responsive Classroom approach. You can find here a description of the Morning Meeting: https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/sites/default/files/pdf_files/S...

This pdf refers to a paid professional development package complete with DVD, but you can get a solid understanding of the idea from the pdf itself. Perhaps you already do something similar, but this is a well-articulated list of the goals and principles related to morning meetings, which can be a very good space for asking pre-schoolers the kinds of questions that lead to higher levels of thinking.

Warm regards,

Dan


Shonella Morgan said:

 I noticed that nearly all the teachers in this community are either in Secondary, High School, College or University so I am sure if it may be a bit easier for you to plan lessons for the older children using the 5 step process. However, I am an Early Childhood Teacher and I find that using and connecting the steps for my level of children would demands more creativity on my part to gain and keep children's attention. I find too that I would have to have my lesson in parts  (on different days) to accomplish my objectives.

What I really love about this overall program is that it has helped me to develop activities and questions at the higher levels that would aide students use of higher order thinking skills (HOTS). 

Presently I am working on my plan, trying to ensure that my objectives link to my questions, activities, and evaluation.  Scaffolding is a very important aspect of developing critical thinking skills as this course has taught me, and now I am practicing more of asking probing questions so that children can think and make better decisions. 

I am indeed happy that I signed up for this course because I am better than I came in. I learnt some new things: The Socratic Seminar, also  that the Scientific Method can be used for any subject area and not just for science. Most importantly, I have learned how to plan my lessons linking all the parts. I must say though that to link the parts together is my  challenge, but I am giving it my best effort. 

Thanks Daniel and the team for your support and work, thus making this course a success and memorable experience for all of us here.

Regards,

Shonella

Hi Glenda, Gale and Daniel, 

Thank you for your insight on ways I can accomplish critical thinking with my age level. Management of the lesson as you have mentioned Gale is important that is why I will choose to do mines in part so that I can focus on students learning from the sessions and not just the content. Also Gale, as I started to plan I realised that the content is so much, thus I need to have activities that will be engaging for the children. Thanks Daniel for the document. The Morning Meeting is what we call Circle Time, so I intend to use my lesson at this time since as this would allow much discussion and movement and it would also make provision for their own 'why' questions. 

Way to go Glenda.

Keep it up.

Gale

Hi there:

Completing the seven episodes was an eye opener and a refresher! This program took me back to my Teacher College days and post Teaching practice. This proved to be a reminder of the importance of proper planning and catering to the needs of all types of learners.

Often, teachers focus simply on teaching for exams as our society more or less is exam oriented and therefore teachers tend to focus more on teaching for students to pass rather than teaching for students to learn and understand.

Confession is good for the soul, so I must confess that I have not always made a concerted effort to include the higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy in all my lessons. However, having completed this program, I will correct this behavior going forward. 

The planning process is extremely helpful as it creates easy steps for the teacher to follow. One however needs time, especially when planning several subjects for varying levels/grades.

Based on my experience in this program, I vow to include rubrics for all my activities and make them available to my students.

Something that was not said in this program but which I thought of at the end of Episode 7 was to include a feedback form at the end of each term so students can critique the lessons over the term.  I see the need to engage students as much as possible and constructive criticism can only serve to strengthen our art of teaching. 

I am now in the process of planning my lesson and I look forward in engaging my students as critical thinkers.

Macian

Thank you, Macian! This is very nice feedback.

We will provide participants with a more formal opportunity to provide feedback on the programs soon. I am glad you found the program helpful and very happy that you look forward to engaging your students as critical thinkers.

Warm regards,

Dan

The program was an informative one. I used Bloom's Taxonomy before but not as how it is used here. I particularly like how the strateies are used to linked to other subjects. Although I would have appreciated  more detailed lesson plan examples, the concept to encourage critical thinking was very clear and emphasizex.

My challenge is how to apply the strategies and develop critical thinking skills among students who are working way below average and suffer from slight dyslexia and learning ability, or to a group of male students who can't really read well.

Critical thinking skills is very applicable and can be taught at early stages, even at preschool, but the scientific stepa will have to be modified.

I am now more eager to go train other teachers especially the ones in my department since most of them are novice teachers.

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