Critical Thinking

Our recent posts on the various levels of Bloom’s taxonomy has got me thinking about the subject of thinking. I don’t know about other teachers, but certainly for me at the junior high level I have difficulties convincing students to move into that phase of asking ‘Why?’

I came across this series of statements about independent scholarship in the great blog Motivational Magic (check it out, fellow educators of all sorts), and I instantly stole it because I think it sums up a lot of what I want students to end up doing in my classes.

Independent scholars…

Are able to plan and complete complicated projects.

Are able to set goals and evaluate projects.

Are able to complete tasks without supervision.

Are able to ask for assistance only when necessary to complete assignments.

Are able to turn in all assignments on time.

Are able to find productive activities to engage in after their required work is completed.

Funnily enough, for me, the first statement is the most critical. Planning is something that a lot of students don’t do as well as they could. Planning requires foresight, judgement, and the ability to reflect on one’s progress. I would love my students to be able to carry out the steps laid out here.

Now, to figure out how to teach this concept by concept…

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This entry was posted in Assessment/Evaluation and tagged , by Jazzman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jazzman

I am a musician and teacher living in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. In addition to teaching and performing, I enjoy reading, chess, walking with my wife, and the occasional computer strategy game. In terms of my work, I have an interest in incorporating technology and reflection into music education, specifically in the area of assessment and evaluation.

2 thoughts on “Critical Thinking

  1. This is very interesting. In our PD the school board I’m in is going towards learning profiles. Essentially they want students to be aware of what kind of learner they are, show evidence of learning and create goals. Some of these thing listed above may in fact be goals that students have. For example what we saw was a Grade 2’s profile, and they wanted to be a better Grade 2-er. To him this meant being more independent and not having to be told more than once how to do an activity. So in his language, he was able to complete a task without supervision!
    They’re also trying to use technology to do this as well (D2L, iWeb, etc.). As I am not currently a classroom teacher this doesn’t always apply to specialists, but it’s interesting to know.

  2. I really like those definitions of independent scholars. I would argue that many junior high students are already capable of doing all those things, though possibly not in an academic setting. For example, making cookies by oneself requires a student to employ all those skills. Other examples might be shopping for Christmas presents, assembling a Halloween costume or organizing a party. Part of the metacognitive process might just be having students think about how they have already accomplished these skills in everyday tasks without even realizing it. The trick is finding a task as motivating that relates to what they are supposed to be doing in class. This week in my Bio 20 class, I will be starting a two-week “Design Your Own Terrarium” project where students plan, construct and observe an ecosystem in a bottle. Consistent with the ideas in your post, the most important component of the assignment is a reflection on what was learned and how the design or maintenance of the terrarium could be improved. I hope it goes well!

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