If we want our students to think critically in our classrooms, we need to help them discover their innate abilities to use their brains as active tools and not passive receptacles of information to be spewed forth on test day. In other words, we need to ask students thoughtful, appropriate questions that lead them to the discovery of critical content knowledge. We want our students to think for themselves; we want our students to assess and synthesize information in critically appropriate manners; and, we want our students to be successful citizens in a complicated, ever-changing world. Let’s ask questions. Let’s stimulate their curiosity and help them start thinking for themselves. What follows is a simple, bare-bones model for starting, or improving, the questioning strategies we use with our students every day. … KEEP READING
For fifteen years I’ve been trying to make my students active readers. I’ve used study questions; I’ve used critical thinking questions; I’ve used annotation rubrics. While all of these were successful on some level or another, and while I still employ guided questions, especially with struggling readers, annotations have been my “go to” for the past five years. The problem I was finding with my students’ annotations is that many of them were flat: they would underline or highlight, and they would write a word or two in the margin sometimes to clarify why they underlined or highlighted, but true analysis was missing. It would peep up during our class discussions, but we spent precious minutes trying to remember exactly why they chose a particular quotation. I knew there had to be a better way.