What is something that made you learn today?

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(For teachers, parents and anyone interested.)

What is something that made you learn today?

Yesterday’s post was intended to help new and tired teachers find critical thinking questions. Sometimes I think the emphasis on critical thinking has become a little twisted, as teachers are pushed to ask complex questions before students are ready to make connections. You cannot think critically until you have amassed a store of background knowledge.

But I love critical thinking questions when they work. This one question appeals to me because its form leads to metacognitive exploration. What MADE you learn?

The question is not, “What did you learn today?” That question is too easy. “I learned the Earth goes around the sun.” Well, yes, that’s good and the conversation can take off from there. But when I ask what made my children or students learn, I open up new possibilities. The answer might be, “I had to get ready for my test Friday,” another toss-off answer. That answer can be leveraged into a discussion about how quizzes and tests reinforce learning, helping learning to make its way into long-term memory. I might get lucky and get an answer like, “I ate breakfast and I was a lot more awake in the morning.” That’s an answer that can help a student for the rest of his or her life. I might get a specific response about a lesson: “I liked how you walked around the room with the globe to show us the seasons. That helped me understand.” This question helps us understand where a lesson worked best. If we listen to the silence, we may also learn where the lesson didn’t work. If nobody mentions my globe walk, that activity probably did not give me much educational bang for my buck. Maybe I did not explain enough as I circled the room.

Eduhonesty: The blog’s gone over 12,000 users and I wonder about you guys, who somehow found the top-secret blog of less-gloom-and-doom-lately. You must be interested in education in general, because these posts hardly carry a coherent theme. Micro posts compete for attention with macro posts; critical thinking appears a few days after budgetary issues.
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(From four years ago in a school that definitely had budgetary challenges. The little TV was a donation from a friend.)

Thanks for reading, anyway. I know from traffic that people particularly like classroom tips so I will try to keep these coming.