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Integral part of my teaching

I make them demonstrate the relationship between the elements of reason and the scientific method. Making the comparison of the elements of reason is a standing homework assignment that they know to do without me telling them to. If they don't know the purpose of the day, or the question at issue, or the concepts we are covering they can't possibly be learning anything! This way, they generate the value of what we are doing..they are convincing me and not vice versa. Students cannot turn in any laboratory report (or piece of writing) without having an accompanying letter of evaluation (that is written in the format of the five aspects of assessment.) In addition, they must also turn in a letter to me that states that they have read their letter of evaluation and already attended to the suggestions in there.

The rest depends a lot on the kind of content in a given class. In Physical Science, we do a lot of math: manipulation of various formulas and conversions between units. We also do a lot of chemistry. These concepts are difficult for students and I want to send them to higher classes with a solid base of understanding. So, in these classes, we drill the essentials with students at the board solving problems and explaining them as they go. No one is immune and we do NOT move on until everyone (and I mean everyone!) gets it and can explain it. What you generate, you KNOW. (They, of course, also know why we learn each thing since they have applied the elements of reason to the content on several occasions. The pupose of learning to convert units is so that we can buy gas in another country; modify a recipe when cooking, etc) Students learn to ask questions and be persistent because they know they might as well. They are accountable. By this time, the students are comfortable with each other and at the board.

Physics is a bit more intuitive so we branch out to the students teaching the entire semester. I jigsaw groups around so that we begin by creating "experts" in nuclear power, electricity, heat, magnetism, human impact on the environment, etc. During this portion, we learn research techniques, etc. Then, we form new groups that have one expert from each of the previous groups. These second groups apply all the previous concepts they've researched to a unifying theme like cars, houses, schools, factories, communities,etc. (How do cars use/generate electricity, heat, pollution, etc.) To present this data, they must fulfill a huge list of requirements. They must bring in a car, guest speakers, do demonstrations, set up related field trips, lead labs, etc. This lets them learn a lot of life skills in addition to content. It is quite daunting for them to call up the local heating and cooling guy, or a college professor, to come in and speak to the class! The final product, after the actual several day presentation, is a term paper that conforms to all the standards- bibliography, notecards, bib cards, title page, etc.

Integrating critical thinking into the curriculum is simply using an approach that focuses on the individual being thoroughly engaged in whatever activity is going on in the classroom. Critical thinking can be inserted into the curriculum at several levels. The activity described above lets the students do the critical thinking for themselves. You can design activities that encourage the students to practice critical thinking themselves, or, you can use critical thinking strategies yourself in order to devise daily lesson plans, as well as course-wide objectives, that encourage students to think critically. Furthermore, the teacher models exemplary thinking skills at all times during class. This is accomplished by reasoning things through verbally, as well as modelling reading, listening, questioning and discussing assignments with the class.


Article Highlights

Engaging students to think deeply about content
Five Aspects used to Assess Results
How to teach students to read actively and analytically
Lesson Plan Redesign Format


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