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 have always tried to ensure that this concept has been blankets the entire sea of students, regardless of the acronym (or lack thereof) attached to their name.
All kiddos can and should engage with critical, deep thinking tools. The MPS (mathematical practice standards) that cropped up with common core, are learning practices that are vital to all thinking and learning in all content areas.
There are 3 fantastic ways to help students *think* and truly invest in the concepts to build schema and attain mastery.
1. Learning Practices
One of the primary tools we use in class is cross-curricular learning practices. Many of the concepts show up in the math standards practices and GATE depth and complexity icons. There is no reason to limit thinking skills to one area of curriculum. The more the kiddos use them, the more competent they’ll be with them. We use these strategies all day in all subjects.
I have these in clear view on my white board all year so we can refer to them when we are trying to figure something out. We discuss critical thinking and thinking with a STRONG brain.
I put business card magnets (afflink) on the back of them so I can take them down and move them wherever I need to if we need to get.a.point.across.
I like using the smaller versions of these cards on a ring for quick reference.
2. Higher Levels of Thinking with Depth of Knowledge
I have these little posters coupled with 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 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 often all it takes.
This resource includes an “older student” version of these cards – so they are useful reminders for all classrooms
3. New Bloom’s
I also love the update to Bloom’s Taxonomy. The *newer* order makes a lot more sense and is easier to incorporate. 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.
Use these questions to help build lessons, take discussions farther, inspire topic journaling.
These 3 essential learning tools for higher-level, critical-thinking and depth and complexity are part of Digging Deep. In that resource you’ll find:
- Full-size and 1/2 size posters
- Black and white backgrounds on all
- Younger and Older student versions
- Background and instructions on these practices, questions and techniques
- New Edition Bloom’s taxonomy quick reference cards