“Give someone a fish and they’ll eat that day. Teach someone how to catch a fish and they’ll never go hungry.”
This week’s #edchat, “How to Integrate Critical Thinking and Technology” and “How to Assess Critical Thinking” highlighted the most important 21st century skill, often overlooked in the quest for technology integration, student empowerment, and authentic assessment — critical thinking. By critical thinking I mean the thoughtful examination, evaluation and analysis of a topic – everything described in the above video. Often, this can be observed or assessed by the questions students ask rather than the answers given.
Sorting through the vast array of information online or simply functioning effectively and successfully in the world in which we live requires a great deal of critical thinking skills. My biggest point of agreement and largest takeaway from this week’s #edchat was that all students must own their learning. All teaching, especially 21st century teaching and learning, must take place within a student-centered pedagogy.
Teaching with a focus on critical thinking requires a shift in lesson design. Facilitate learning and allow your students to navigate their own learning process. Stop lecturing, stop spoon-feeding your kids with A – D answers and teach them how to analyze content (on-line and in context). When teaching with problem or project based learning provide your students with a toolkit and then empower them to select their best route.
“Not everything that counts can be counted, not everything that can be counted counts.” -Albert Einstein
Standardizing and assessing creativity and critical thinking skills is fairly challenging within the rigid, traditional grading methodologies. Doing so may require teachers to incorporate alternative grading methods. My favorite suggestion was the creation of digital portfolios paired with formal assessments including student self assessments and teacher-made assessments.
For more information on critical thinking, technology, and assessment check out Elizabeth King’s blog post, Critical Thinking: What is it Anyway or Cybrary Man’s Educational Web Sites for Problem Based Learning and Critical Thinking.
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