Thursday, October 25, 2012

LADDERS to Critical Thinking!

Whole Brain Teaching is raising the bar again! “Total student engagement is a necessity in ensuring  students are participants in the learning process.”  Such a generic statement, but it is the buzz statement on the educational stage currently. Administrators have it printed prominently on teacher evaluation forms.  Teachers specifically notate it on daily lesson plans.  Parents see it under Study Skills on report cards.  I “googled” it and found 4,200,000 results!  Amazing!

Student engagement is one vital puzzle piece in enhancing the education of the individual child.  Educators need to seize those moments of engagement and, within a stimulating and well-planned learning environment, address the development of the child’s ability to think critically.
Developing a child’s ability to think critically and problem solve in a variety of situations must be recognized as a life long journey, beginning very early in life.  Whole Brain Teaching theory and practice acknowledges that and offers an intense program leading to increased student engagement and ultimately higher levels of critical thinking skills.

Two specific techniques offered to teachers by WBT for critical thinking development is the use of oral and written language within informal and formal settings.  The traditional classroom has accepted the quick question and simple one word answers as satisfactory.  Unfortunately,  answers as such stop there and never call upon the child to support the given answer.  Welcome the Cosmic Genius Ladder courtesy of Coach Chris Biffle and Whole Brain Teaching! (WBT Video Library #538)  In this arena, students are taught and given continuous practice in answering questions individually and in “choral” with the class, with complete sentence answers beginning with the subject addressed and the answer to the question. 


For example, “Why did Bob go home after the ballgame?”  “After the ballgame, Bob went home.” 
The next level is Critical Thinking.  Using the same method of question and answer, the student/class extends the answer with evidence.

THINKING!”   Chris Biffle


“Bob went home after the ballgame because (Pitty-Pat Clapper) he wanted to.”  This answer is an example of weak evidence.

“Bob went home after the ballgame because (Because Clapper) he had to finish his math homework for school.”  This answer is an example of strong evidence.


This is a student created sample from my 2nd grade class written independently after many various sessions of oral practice with the Genius Ladder and Cosmic Ladder format. 


The expectation of producing strong evidence in response to questions is becoming more automatic in my classroom with each day.  As an instructor, it is our responsibility to “set the bar” for our students.  Who will if we don’t?


Liz Shaver said...

I am going to intro the because clapper next week as we start to write opinion paragraphs.. lots of need for evidence! My students really need practice with evidence AND speaking/writing in complete sentences. Thanks!

Nancy Stoltenberg Director of WBT Certification said...

Hi Liz! Thanks so much! The because clapper and the complete sentence responses become very automatic with practice throughout the day. Be sure to check out the Triple Gold Sentence webcasts in the Video Library on the WBT home page.

Keep us posted on your results!

Post a Comment