Saturday, 19 November 2011

Teaching for Critical Thinking: A professional development focus in the RCDSB

Teaching for Critical Thinking: A professional development focus in the RCDSB

Had a great session on Friday with Garfield Gini-Newman at the Inquiring Minds Professional Development Day. Gini-Newman shared with RCDSB secondary teachers regarding the importance of fostering critical thinking skills and offered lots of tips to help do this. He noted that today’s students are smarter than ever, great at using many technologies to access information and he shared why educators need to help these students be able to appropriately filter information to make assessments and judgements against various criteria. A few of the tips mentioned include:

Ask students to rank facts according to impact rather than just list;

Teach content in a manner that engages students in making assessments;

Write questions that require students to make a judgement;

Teach students the difference between an informed judgement and a preference;

Teach students about the vocabulary of critical thinking such as evaluate, infer, and analyse;

Use problem-based learning;

Make your subject a “doing” subject;

Put questions of inquiry at the start of the unit as opposed to a culminating question;

Put the occasional false statement in your presentation and have students select the false statement from a list and defend their choices; and

Teach students to use the Richler Scale of Significance to write about impact.

These are just some of the tips provided by Gini-Newman and discussed by the teachers in terms of how educators can create a community of thinkers. All in all, Gini-Newman made a positive contribution to the theme of learning through collaboration. He also spoke very favourably regarding the student use of smartphones, that he referred to as powerful computers, and encouraged teachers to permit students to use their technologies in the class to engage in the learning. Gini-Newman easily engaged the teachers in the dialogue and I would give him the two thumbs up as the keynote speaker for this exciting day of learning at the RCDSB!

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