Engaging Learning Practices and Higher Levels of Thinking!
Engaging learning practices and encouraging higher levels of thinking should be at the core, the driving force, behind our daily lessons. Let’s face it, a lot of work is involved in making that happen.
Common Core’s Roll
Set aside any negatives you may have about common core – at the foundation – the expectation is that students master concepts, feel success through critical thinking, and can strategize effectively. These are tools we need in everyday life. I’m all for it.
I’m pretty happy about the whole college and career readiness push. The career part is what makes me happy. We’ve been focusing a lot on those kiddos heading off to college quite a bit. So many others have been left behind. They are behind and lacking critical thinking skills. That’s not a great mix.
For quite a while I was bothered by the whole gifted program. We call it GATE around here. The desire to foster critical, deep thinkers has always been a cornerstone in gifted student programs. It’s bothered me that it has been something that is restricted to only those students labeled GATE.
I’m thrilled to see that this concept has been pushed to blanket the entire sea of students, regardless of the acronym (or lack thereof) attached to their name.
Regardless of label, I have always expected my kiddos to engage critical, deep thinking tools. With common core, I now have the time to really encourage all of them to dig deep and master the concepts that lead to better understanding. Here are the ways I encourage them to *think*.
They are posted on my white board so we can refer to them when we are trying to figure something out. We discuss critical thinking and thinking with a STRONG brain. We cannot be wimpy… we have to WORK, WORK, WORK in all the right ways. All 8 of them. 🙂
Here they are on my white board. I have them up their with magnets stuck to the back so I can take them down and move them wherever I need to if we need to get.a.point.across.
Higher Levels of Thinking with Depth of Knowledge
I have these little posters coupled with some depth of knowledge posters. My kiddos quickly learn to expect that I am going to ask them why, or ask them to demonstrate, or show me, or build it with your partner. I like to tell them we need to dig deeper and think higher.
High Expectations and Lightbulb Moments
Instilling high expectations for thinking in your kiddos does so much for them. The thrill they get from figuring out a difficult concept… that lightbulb moment… is exhilarating and addictive. They will want to work for that again and again. Students take so much pride in what they are able to accomplish. Encouragement to reach another level is sometimes all it takes.
I recommend digging deep with these little “thinking” tools. They help all students – regardless of which type of standard (common core or otherwise) you are using. Mastery of concepts and critical thinking are universal and strongly tied. Sometimes a visual reminder goes a long way.
I put together teacher resource with the posters I use in class, plus a few extras. There are various sizes so they will fit into smaller classroom spaces, small group areas. The resource also contains both the black background posters and cards and white background ones.
I like the small ones because they are perfect for those tight spaces and placing on rings for quick reference.
I also love the update to Bloom’s Taxonomy. The *newer* order makes a lot more sense to me. I use little cards as a quick reference to help me come up with questions and activities that will help the kiddos engage those higher orders of thinking.
Check out the entire set of resources by clicking the cover image below.