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Fostering Critical Thinking in the Classroom Using Inquiry Charts, Discussion Webs, and Technology.

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1 Fostering Critical Thinking in the Classroom Using Inquiry Charts, Discussion Webs, and Technology

2 “American textbooks have become compendiums of topics, none of which are treated in much depth.” According to research from Harriet Tyson and Arthur Woodward, they found that textbooks structure 75-90 percent of classroom instruction. Textbooks define the scope and sequence of instruction Elementary teachers typically depend upon teacher guides to provide them with road maps for teaching the year’s material.

3 Science books are seen more as colorful dictionaries. Focus is primarily on vocabulary terms In a study of science textbooks for grades 6-9, it was found that the science books that were examined contained as many as 2,500 new and unfamiliar words – double what could be expected in a foreign language text for the same grades. High School Biology textbooks studied contained as many as 9,900 unfamiliar words.

4 James W. Loewen Best selling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America. Former professor Taught race relations at the University of Vermont for twenty- years.

5 Remove the dependence of textbooks in the history classroom. Focus on narrow topics in class versus overloading students with needless material topics. (trees vs. twigs) Create a classroom of excitement in which discourse of historical topics is used effectively. Teach students techniques to become critical thinkers and readers challenge the material that they are reading and formulate their own theories and ideas based on historical evidence.

6 “High school textbooks in American history present the past as one damn thing after another.” (p. 12) Textbooks do not show causation in history. Students are not able to link past events with current ones. Textbooks downplay critical thinking skills. Focused primarily on memorizing the facts “ Almost never does a textbook suggest more than one possible answer and invite students to assess evidence for each. Instead they tell the right answers, over and over, in their sleep-inducing godlike monotone.”

7 Why do I want my students to know this? What should they be able to do with the information, assuming they recall it once they leave school” Do I have to teach it? Based off of state standards or preparing students for standardized tests.

8 Don’t allow history to be a weapon (racism, ethnocentrism, nationalism) Textbooks do not want to offend people, so they offer dishonest history Examples: the Alamo, Vietnam War, race/class relations, presidents, etc. Questioning the myths told in textbooks is the first step toward good citizenship Get students to critique information in textbooks Test the source: locate the speaker, the audience, and the era and then look for internal and external contradictions to develop empathetic understanding.

9 Read effectively, find main ideas in text Read critically: are the ideas supported by evidence? Understand the difference between and the importance of primary and secondary sources Use historiography on a source to understand the speaker, audience, & context of the time period Write a coherent essay Write effectively – use evidence to justify your opinion Speak effectively - debate Have a grasp on mapping skills and direction Understand, critique, and create tables of data Cause change in society


11 “Social studies, more than other disciplines, require students to read a wide variety of texts, and some students find traditional textbook reading difficult.” - Massey, D. and Heafner T. (2004) Scaffolding Reading Experience (SRE) Teachers can scaffold or model their instruction to assist their students to accomplish a task they wouldn’t normally be able to do without additional help. Before/During/After Reading Strategies


13 Graphic organizer used to help students organize information from multiple texts and primary sources. “Students keep track of what they are learning and begin to make association between the texts.” “This simple framework allows students to begin making connections between and across texts to answer an established question or learn more about a particular topic.” Strategy focuses the purpose for reading, students will be able to develop their own questions for the reading, and helps navigate struggling readers on what information to focus on.


15 Rationale In many classrooms discussions tend to center around a few individual students rather than the class as a whole due to the fact that many students are unwilling to voice their opinions. Discussion Webs provide all students with a chance to voice their opinions. Students think individually then pair up with a partner and work in groups to decide on a conclusion to a question.

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17 Alvermann D.E. (1991) The discussion web: a graphic aid for learning across the curriculum. The Reading Teacher 45(2) p. 92-99 Loewen, J.W. (2010) Teaching what really happened: How to avoid the tyranny of textbooks & get students excited about doing history. New York: Teachers College Press Massey, D.D. and Heafner T. (2004) Promoting reading comprehension in social studies. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 48 (1) Tyson, H. and Woodward A. (1989) Why students aren’t learning as much from textbooks. Educational Leadership. Presentation By: Ashley Cole and Jeff Zwally

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