In The Vancouver Sun (Jan.3,2015 page A3), Daphne Braham did an OpEd piece: “A call for a return to rationality”. Imagine the notion of proposing the checking of facts before forming opinions. Brilliant! What happened to the pause button, the one that use to be hit before uninformed criticisms intended to discredit, were lobbed into conversations or amplified via social media? How did we get to a point where we opted out of taking responsibility for what we popularize? Negative statements or decontextualized comments are intimate incompetence, lack of the required cognitive skills or general untrustworthiness. At times, even blatant lies are presented as fact and retracted after the damage is done or not.
How do we teach kids to care about fact? How do we teach them that half truths and innuendo are neither reliable nor moral? I am working under the presumption that we have a role to play as educators, parents and friends of the children under our care. If we teach our children to scrutinize information and ask good questions, certainly it follows that there will be a higher degree of insistence on reasoned and fair decisions from themselves, as well as from friends, family and decision makers.
I recently went to see the Broadway musical, Into The Woods, that recently made it’s film appearance starring Meryl Streep. Two classic lines jumped out of the movie: “Be careful of the stories you tell, children will listen” and “I was brought up to be charming, not sincere”. What are the stories we are telling our children with our conversations and treatment of others people and discussion of events? Are we quick to jump to conclusions based on hearsay? Do we give the benefit of the doubt to the person involved? Do we place more value on charm than sincerity? Do we ask enough questions to try to get a full picture of the situation or person. Do we insist on factual information to make reasoned decisions?
The Grade 3 and 4 students that I work with two days a week are starting to do research projects on Canada. How do we get children to understand history as a story involving real people with real stories at a specific point in time? History by it’s nature is skewed by the person who is allowed to tell the story. If children understand this at a young age, does it impact their quest to look at the story from a variety of viewpoints? Does it define an insistence on looking at the facts? Does it help them to look past the personality of the person telling the story? My training in history insists that it must be true. My social conscience hopes it is. The Grade 3 students in my class are each researching a province in Canada. The Grade 4’s are researching Aboriginal Nations across Canada who are defined by geography. I am very interested to be part of this conversation. What will the questions be? I’m hoping it is a spark that leads to insistence that rationality reins supreme in guiding perceptions and conclusions. The beauty of being an educator, is we really do believe we can make a difference and create positive change.
Virginia and I are continuing our inquiry project with our students, two groups of students in district gifted programs. This is the Kidpost entry given to our students to allow us to be very specific about the learning intentions of our blogging project.
Blogging for Thinking
Technology is a tool just like a pencil or pen. We are using blogging as tool for two reasons. Kidblog allows your teacher to adjust the security settings so only your classmates, parents and teachers can read and respond to your blog. It allows you to creatively personalize your space and learn about blogging before you start posting in a public space. Blogging is also one way to develop and extend your thinking through writing by reflecting on your learning in and out of the classroom. Because you are not able to use your facial expressions or other body language to communicate, your words must clearly express your ideas. You also have the task of using your creativity and language to grab the interest of your audience.
Throughout your learning, we are using the following questions from Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser (Spirals of Learning 2013) to keep us moving forward.
- What am I learning?
- Why does it matter?
- Where am I going next with my learning?
We will be using the following a rubric based on the article “Responding to the imperatives of learning in the 21st Century” (The Critical Thinking Consortium, 2011) to evaluate your progress.
1. Developing Self-regulated learning: The goal is for you to be able to say: “I am in charge of my learning and motivated to carry out my work in personally responsible, self-reflective ways and to exercise reasoned judgment to meet my goals”.
|I depend on others for almost alldecisions about what,
how and when I learn; I follow the teacher’s directions but I don’t add my own thoughts, ideas or interpretations.
|I demonstrate personalresponsibility to take charge of what, how and when I learn but I need the teacher to provide specific options to choose from.
||I exercise thoughtfullyinformed judgments in the pursuit of agreed-upon targets and self assess my work according to teacher provided rubrics..
||I put a lot of thought and planning into setting goals and a plan to reach them. I self evaluate how my learning is going and where I want to go next.
2. Developing my Thinking Skills: The goal is to develop your critical thinking skills. The word “critical” does not mean finding fault in this case. It means that you are not just “parroting back” information, but demonstrating proficiency by making connections, analyzing evidence, and making judgments.
|I report back what I heard, did, or read during class or out of school learning experiences.
||I report back what I heard, did, or read. I make connections between my learning experiences at school or home.
||I consistently describe my learning and express why my learning matters. I understand where I am going next with my learning and come up with an efficient and effective plan of action.
||I understand the value of my learning and where I want to go next with my learning. My plan, conclusions & opinions are based on careful analysis of my experiences and a variety of evidence.