I am so stinkin' excited that Rachel invited me to guest blog! Do you hear my “Woo Woo?” I have been a silent stalker of hers for so long and now I am here! Thanks Rachel! I will be sharing how to get your students to think and question at a higher-level. I have been teaching Gifted and Talented for many years and have insights to strategic thinking. I hope you find it useful!
Whether it is Bloom’s Taxonomy, Richard Paul’s Wheel of Reasoning, or the Depth of Knowledge, providing lessons with higher-level thinking questions and activities are necessary for students to become successful in today’s assessment craze. Smarter balance requires the students to reason and analyze with citing evidence to support answers. No matter what your school has adopted, students need to be critical thinkers. They need to take a text and rip it apart for meaning.
What is an effective way to get your students thinking at a deeper level? Let me share what works well for my students. To begin, choose a challenging story. Junior Great Books is a way to provide thought-provoking material. They have been used in the GT classes for years and now Common Core suggests that regular education should implement Junior Great Books as well. However, any thought-provoking story will work for this activity!
Once the story is selected, the first lesson is to make predictions from the title and pictures, then simply listen to the story. Before the second reading of the story, review CHARACTER TRAITS AND POSSIBLE THEMES. I use my smart board to discuss the posters and give my students a copy of both of them for their reading notebook. Also supply students with sticky notes. (I usually ask for these as part of the student supply list at the beginning of the year!) Then, we reread the story together for meaning.
While working on the second reading of the story, JGB provides teachers with a common theme for students to identify throughout the story and use for discussion. If it is not a JGB story, be prepared with a common theme that is found throughout the book. Students mark the theme with sticky notes and jot down any notes to use for discussion. However, after we practice this a few times, I like my students to identify their own theme to explore. Keep in mind that there may be more than one theme. Many times students find the theme that the author purposefully woven in the story! Most often, the theme is related to a character in the story. Did the character change in any way? Did the character learn something? Did the character display a character trait?
For chapter books, we start looking for a theme right away since we certainly don’t have the time to read it twice. For example, in Ghost of Fossil Glen, students may focus on “truth.” Ali didn’t tell her parents about the ghost or her theories of the murder. Students begin marking the areas in the book with sticky notes where the concept of truth or dishonesty may be evident. They may also go back to look for more evidence (especially if a meaningful theme wasn’t detected right away.) If I had it my way, every student would be able to write in each book we read and analyze! Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?
When finished citing evidence of the theme, students organize the sticky notes onto the EVIDENCE WEB. The next step is to form questions for discussion. Since I’ve been teaching for some time (we won’t discuss how long), I’ve used several different thinking and reasoning models over the years. With that being said, my questioning format and samples not only align to Richard Paul’s Wheel, but also fall into the “Strategic Thinking” level of Web’s Depth of Knowledge and “Higher-Order” thinking in Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Using student resources (CRITIQUE QUESTIONS and EVIDENCE WEB), students begin to create their own questions and write them onto the REASONING WEB. Once completed, hold discussion groups with students who have similar themes. I ask all groups to come up with a summary of their discussion as well as synthesizing. Then come together as a class. One person from each group shares their theme and summarizes the discussion. Then, if plausible, ask the members of the group to synthesize. Did you change your opinion after the discussion? To wrap up the story, provide a writing assignment related to one of the themes found in the story. Ex. Think of a time you weren’t completely truthful. Explain the situation and your reasoning for not revealing the truth. Would you make the same decision if it happened again?
Example reasoning questions for Ghost of Fossil Glen:
You can find the following in my TPT store for free for Rachel's followers for 2 weeks! Even if you do not get the free product in time, you can use all of these ideas in your classroom!
I hope you find this as an effective tool to use in your classroom! Have a fabulous school year!
A little bit about me:
As mentioned above, I am a Gifted and Talented teacher in Language Arts and Social Studies. I recently had a Best Seller on TPT- Interactive Writing Notebooks! So exciting! Friends say I was meant to be a teacher. I have been teaching since 1989 which reflects my Rockin store name. My students grab my heart every day and my passion is to create engaging lessons for my them. Rockin Resources was created from a promise to my students to always find ways to motivate them to learn! I know I've been successful when they tell me they enjoy learning in my class!
Visit my blog for more ideas! Mrs. O's Rockin Resources Blog