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Intellectual Standards

Five Aspects used to Assess Results:

In the workshop manuals, there is a page entitled "Why Critical Thinking" that has three sections called: "The Problem," 'A Definition," and "The Result."

The Result section is what I refer to as "The Five Aspects." It says, "A well-cultivated critical thinker: raises vital questions...." We use these five aspects to evaluate the quality of everything! I start off with reading a persuasive speech about punishments for drunk driving. Then, the students write a letter to the author using the Five Aspects as a guide. For example, "Dear Author, I read you speech about drunk driving. I can tell that you raised a vital question and it is What can we do about drunk driving?" I see that you gathered and assessed relevant information because you said "..." They must write down what they identify in the speech as relevant information or, if the material ISN'T there, they must say, "You didn"t gather and assess relevant information." May I suggest you do the following, and give some direction to the author. This lets me see where their weaknesses are that I need to focus on. I chose drunk driving to make obvious points and, again, I don't want to make this too complex by using science content, yet, or having them try to assess themselves before they really understand the rubric. I am confident that, once they are clear about what is expected, having first been the assessor, they will know better how to approach a situation when it is their turn to turn out a product (and know what pitfalls to avoid).

The other key component to my approach is that I have an all-or-none grading policy with re-do"s as the only option. Either you do REALLY GOOD work the first time and get 100% or else you take a zero and do the work over and over until it meets the requirements. I am very selective as to what I accept because I heard the quote, "The worst paper that you accept becomes your highest standard." After a time, laziness prevails and students do a nice job only the first time. I hope to "corrupt" their brain with this tendency permanently. I point out that you do not get paid 65% for a 65% effort at work, you just get fired. There are plenty of people waiting in line for your job!- so get used to doing your best all the time now. My classroom is the place to practice.

Article Highlights

Engaging students to think deeply about content
How to teach students to read actively and analytically
Critical thinking as an integral part of teaching
Lesson Plan Redesign Format

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