My book is out!

Critical Thinking Now: Practical Teaching Methods for Classrooms around the World

thumbnail_critical%20thinking%20now

Today’s curricula can (and should) incorporate critical thinking methods because they are the means by which people best understand, learn, and retain higher level concepts. Contrary to what many professional trainers assume, teaching critical thinking is not achieved by shoveling facts at an audience through lecturing or multiple choice testing. It requires sustained, finely tuned teaching and assessment methods. This book lays out a blueprint to do just that. Specifically, it outlines the necessary components of a critical thinking classroom and provides assessment techniques and ample exercises adaptable to any student’s field, age, or level of education.
Often not considered are those learners schooled in a non-Western culture and not proficient in the presenter’s language. These audiences can create invisible barriers to instruction. Without understanding these pitfalls, trainers invite frustration and failure, and risk wasting everyone’s time and money because they were unaware any problem existed. The book addresses these linguistic, cultural, and cognitive obstacles and suggests several solutions, whether you teach these students on your home turf or theirs.

Click Rowman & Littlefield for more information. Happy critical thinking!

 

 

Think they understand? Ask ’em.

 

person-thinking-with-question-mark

Ask questions you don’t know the answer to so you can find out what they know.

 

Quizzes and tests are time-honored methods of finding out about student learning beyond what you think they know. But there is a quicker, informal, non-graded way to do that by asking them. Although it could be done every class session, I do it after I teach a certain skill and always at midterm so I can refine my teaching.  I give them half sheets of paper and ask to tell me:

1.      Something you have learned today/this week/so far this term.

2.      Something you need help with or don’t understand.

3.      Something you would like to learn (more) about.

Here are some student responses from an academic speaking class for international students:

1.      Something you have learned today/this week/so far this term.

— How to make small talk, especially with older people.

2.      Something you need help with or don’t understand.

–How to write my report summary better. (They interviewed a professor in their field.)

3.      Something you would like to learn (more) about.

–Gestures, casual talk.

In my academic reading and writing class (also for international students), I asked them to write two items for each question:

1.      Two things you have learned today/this week/this term.

–Writing a controlling idea.

–How to read a book and understand it by using the questions that the teacher gave us before reading the book. (Reading log)

2.      Two things you need help with or don’t understand.

–How often can I use a gerund and does it work on all verbs?

–I need help with writing supporting details. Sometimes it is difficult to write a lot of supporting details.

It is easy to think that a lack of questions from students means they understand what you are teaching. It also assumes that they will voice their lack of understanding. I often ask for responses anonymously, which encourages them to say what is on their minds, and helps me repair that before the end of the quarter.

These questions have the added benefit of having students reflect and analyze their knowledge base. What teacher doesn’t want their pupils to do that?