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We are all aware of the importance of teaching critical and creative thinking and of providing opportunities for cooperative learning in the classroom. We know that critical and creative thinking are considered essential for life in the 21st century and, for this reason, form one of the general capabilities embedded in the Australian Curriculum. The ability to contribute productively to a team effort is also considered a highly desirable skill. These abilities are often more highly regarded by employers than academic achievement.
However, in a busy classroom with content to be taught and tests to be administered, timetables to be followed and schedules to be kept, and with ever-increasing standards to be achieved, planning for lessons developing critical and creative thinking that engage children in cooperative learning can be the item on the list that rolls over from week to week.
I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Help is close at hand with thinkdrive. If you are not already familiar with itc thinkdrive, I recommend you take a look.
Even young children in early childhood classrooms can be taught to think critically about material that is presented to them. Being able to discern the accuracy of what they read is increasingly important in this era of fake news.
In this post, I provide some suggestions with lessons ready to teach using children’s picture books. The types of questions and ideas can be applied to other books for checking the accuracy of information.
To assist in verification of information, children can be encouraged to ask and answer questions such as:
What do we already know?
Does this match what we already know?
What do we want to find out?
How can we find out?
How can we be sure the information is true?
Is it fact or is it fiction?
Children, and adults, need to be aware that misinformation, often cleverly disguised as fact, is available everywhere, including on the internet. Being able to navigate one’s way through it all is a very important skill, regardless of age. This article by Tech Teacher Jacqui Murray has some useful advice about Fake News or Fact? How do you tell?
We don’t need to present young children with fake news stories to teach them the skills of critical thinking. We can begin with discussions of stories and information we present to them each day.
The readilearn Bullfrog’s Billabong suite of cross-curricular resources can be used as the foundation for planning a week’s reading instruction including lessons with the whole class and small groups and independent work. The activities cater for different ability levels in your early childhood classroom and can culminate in a performance to be presented to other members of the class, other classes in the school, or parents.
Begin by introducing the story as a covered cloze activity (a lesson ready for you to teach) presented to the whole class on the interactive whiteboard. Although all children are engaged in reading the same story, the activity allows them to participate at their own level. The teacher-led discussion can be tailored to student needs, allowing each to contribute according to what they already know and extending their understanding by discussing cues for reading and irregular as well as regular spelling patterns. Children learn from each other as they actively participate in the cooperative reading activity. Refer to Covered cloze — teaching effective reading strategies and Bullfrog’s Billabong — Cloze — How to use this resource for suggestions.
As with introducing all new reading material, it is important to engage children’s interest by making connections with what they already know about the topic and explaining what may be unfamiliar; for example, a billabong, and encouraging them to make predictions about what might happen in the story. As the story unfolds, children may adjust their predictions and thoughts about the story.
This week I am delighted to introduce you to award-winning children’s author Dimity Powell.
Dimity likes to fill every spare moment with words. She writes and reviews stories exclusively for kids and is the Managing Editor for Kids’ Book Review. Her word webs appear in anthologies, school magazines, junior novels, as creative digital content, and picture books including The Fix-It Man (2017) and At The End of Holyrood Lane (2018).
Dimity believes picture books are soul food, to be consumed at least 10 times a week. If these aren’t available, she’ll settle for ice-cream. She lives just around the corner from Bat Man on the Gold Coast although she still prefers hanging out in libraries than with superheroes.
In this post, Dimity shares her love of libraries and explains why it is important to ensure every child has access to a library at school and every reader a local library.
The celebration of special occasions such as Easter may bring interruptions to the usual class program with preparation for special events and performances such as Easter Hat Parades. It may also signal time to inject some fun into the program. But involving children in Easter activities doesn’t mean the learning has to stop.
In this post, I explain how using readilearn early childhood teaching resources keeps the children thinking and learning while having fun with Easter-themed resources across curriculum areas. (Note: All readilearn Easter-themed resources can be found here.)
An inclusive classroom acknowledges all traditions celebrated by its children.
Find out whether Easter is one of the traditions celebrated by the families of children in the class and discuss how it is celebrated.
I loved the addition of the interactive whiteboard to my classroom about ten years ago. I embraced the use of computer technology from when I bought my first home computer in 1985 and first used computers in my classroom in 1986. The interactive whiteboard was a way of making use of the technology inclusive. Instead of one or two children taking a turn on the computer while the rest of the class were engaged in other things, we could all be involved at the same time, if desired.
I used the interactive whiteboard with the whole class for introducing topics, brainstorming ideas and explaining concepts. It was great for modelled writing lessons and collaborative reading. I found it particularly useful for demonstrating the processes to follow in the computer lab.
I used some purchased software, but also spent a lot of time creating activities to teach or practice particular concepts or skills. Versions of many of these lessons are now available here on readilearn.