Thursday, January 30, 2014

Can your students think?

Yesterday I talked with a Superintendent in Pennsylvania, and he was complaining how kids can't think.   "They cut and paste, they want to fill in the blank and that's it,"  he said.  "We need problem solvers and our teachers are merely conveying content." 

Later, President Obama agreed with him when he made this statement in the State of the Union address: 
 "Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. are making big strides in preparing students with skills for the new economy – problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, and math.  Some of this change is hard.  It requires everything from more challenging curriculum and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test.  But it’s worth it – and it’s working."  

If you are wondering just how to get there, let me suggest this book.  We believe it lays out the principles of student-centered Inquiry Based Learning in an easily-digestible format.  If you wonder how you can get this message to your teachers, you may wish to read this and tab a page or two for a teacher to read.   Every page has an essential curriculum planning question at the top, and if you read that section, you should be able to understand that concept.  Some examples are:
 EQ:  How do your foster engagement and student ownership?  EQ: How does a knowledge product differ from an information product?  EQ:  What's the scoop on text-dependent questions (TDQ's)  and 33 more.  

Included in the book are 99 Essential Questions to help you craft student research projects for higher-level thought. It is high-time to repackage our content to get to the top of Blooms and beyond. Create a curriculum-aligned Essential Question to compel students to "uncover and discover," rather than merely standing and "covering" content.   
This book can be ordered on Amazon or directly from ABC Clio: click here  

I was privileged to work with NYS legend, Mary Ratzer on this book.  We thank all our colleagues and mentors who have taught us and led us down this Inquiry journey.  You may say this is self-serving, but in reality we are serving our students and doing them a disservice if we don't move beyond rote and recall or copy and paste assignments.  Join the journey today. 

We are available for PD in your area, if you need a hands-on day for librarians.    Here is one just one on many email feedbacks we receive.  This one from a day in Kentucky: 

'just want to thank you for the awesome PD yesterday.  I learned so much!!  At first I was kind of bummed at staying all day because I have so much to do here, but it was worth every minute J

Library Media Specialist
Beaumont Middle School

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