THINK MACHINE: Part II
An Internet Webquest on Critical Thinking


Created by
Ralph A. Bucci
Page Layout by Christopher Carrion
Flash Image by Willie Leung

Focus Academy Administrator: Gina Montagnino
School: Charles W. Flanagan High School

 

 

Introduction

Critical thinking is an important and vital topic at Charles W. Flanagan High School. All educators are making a commitment to teach critical thinking to their students. Our academic academies have instructors that are informed about the strategy of teaching critical thinking skills, identify areas in one's courses as the proper place to emphasize and teach critical thinking, and develop and use some problems in high-stakes testing situations that test students' critical thinking skills. Acquiring high-yield strategies and replicating them into the curriculum is priority one.

The purpose of specifically teaching critical thinking at Charles W. Flanagan High School is to improve the thinking skills of students; thus, we prepare students to succeed in the world. But, you may ask, don't we automatically teach critical thinking when we teach our subjects, especially the core curriculum? Sometimes, this is not the case.

Critical thinking is the ability to think for one's self and reliably and responsibly make those decisions that affect one's life. Critical thinking is also critical inquiry, so such critical thinkers investigate problems, ask questions, pose new answers that challenge the status quo, discover new information that can be used for good or ill, question authorities and traditional beliefs, challenge received dogmas and doctrines, and often end up possessing power in society greater than their numbers. It may be that a workable society or culture can tolerate only a small number of critical thinkers, that learning, internalizing, and practicing scientific and critical thinking is discouraged. Many times students do not question, are not curious, and do not think for themselves. Most students, therefore, do not think for themselves, but rely on others to think for them. Most people indulge in wishful, hopeful, and emotional thinking, believing that what they believe is true because they wish it, hope it, or feel it to be true. Most people, therefore, do not think critically. At Charles W. Flanagan High School we want to change this behavior.

Critical thinking cannot be taught by lecturing. Critical thinking is an active process, while, for most students, listening to lectures is a passive activity. The intellectual skills of critical thinking--analysis, synthesis, and reflection--must be learned by actually performing them. Classroom instruction, homework, term papers, and exams, therefore, should emphasize active intellectual participation by the student. This WebQuest is designed thematically to enable students to acquire critical thinking skills. The emphasis of this WebQuest is for students to discover new information which will allow them to become independent thinkers.

 

Task

HOW DO EDUCATORS AT CHARLES W. FLANAGAN HIGH SCHOOL ENGAGE STUDENTS TO BECOME INDEPENDENT THINKERS?

 

Process

As a member of the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Design (ASCD), I recently attended a conference where educators were surveyed to voice what educators believed were the essential learning blocks that enable teachers to condition students to become active learners. The following is a prioritized order and a rationale for each:

Political Cartoons- Political cartoons promote critical thinking on the highest levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. Analyzing and synthesizing the meaning of images is a skill that needs more attention.

Quotes- Because of its relevance to reference, students need to learn to interpret the meaning of famous quotes and the famous names that coin them. Analyzing quotes again works on the highest levels of the thinking taxonomy.

Lesson Plans- Providing the newest lesson plans for the neophyte educator as well as the veteran ranked as #3. Teachnet was the site most mentioned as the most respected.

Trivia- The media has popularized many forms of factoids on game shows many awarding mindboggling sums of money. Educators are convinced that there is a place in the curriculum and the classroom for an organized presentation of trivial minucia.

Use the four sections to create a lesson plan for your Focus Academy. Upon completion, CAB it to Gina Montgnino. She will review it and validate it to be added to this WebQuest for permanent use. It will be shared with everyone else in the Focus Academy in the Best Practices section.


Phase 1 - Background Information
Use the Internet information linked below to answer the basic questions of who? what? where? when? why? and how? Be creative in exploring the information so that you answer these questions as fully and insightfully as you can.

Political Cartoons
Quotes
Lesson Plans
Trivia
The New York Times on the Web Learning Network

Phase 2 - Roles
INSTRUCTIONS:

1. As an educator in the Focus Academy at Charles W. Flanagan High School, use this WebQuest as a tool box and storage vault for best practices lessons. The links for political cartoons, quotes, trivia, and lesson plans are designed to give you the opportunity to create lesson plans for our ninth graders to become independent thinkers so that when they take high-stakes tests, they will be successful.

2. Create a lesson plan and submit it to Gina Montagnino as a word.doc, and she will review it. These lesson plans can be used by other educators within the academy as well as substitute teachers so that students will always receive quality instruction even on days when you cannot be with them in the classroom.

3. Remember to use higher ordered questions a majority of the time to insure that students will be challenged when participating in the lesson. Bloom's Taxonomy flip charts are available to assist you.

4. Have fun creating.

POLITICAL CARTOONS:

Political Cartoons
Lesson plans for using cartoons in the classroom.
Using Political Cartoons
The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists


Use the Internet information linked below specifically related to POLITICAL CARTOONS to create a lesson plan for the Focus Academy.


QUOTES:

Quotes by Subject
Random quotes
Word of the day
Quotes of the day
Motivational Quotes
Quotes by author
Quotation book reviews
Quotation forums page
Your quotations page


Use the Internet information linked below specifically related to QUOTES to create a lesson plan for the Focus Academy.


LESSON PLANS:

Language Arts
Science
Art
Music
Math
Social Studies
Health and Physical Education
Seasonal
Technology


Use the Internet information linked below specifically related to LESSON PLANS to create a lesson plan for the Focus Academy.


TRIVIA:

Literature trivia
Science , math, and technology
Music
History
Geography
the World
Brain teasers
General
Religion and faith
The Humanities


Use the Internet information linked below specifically related to TRIVIA to create a lesson plan for the Focus Academy.

BEST PRACTICES:

The following Lesson plans are exemplary and have been approved by Gina Montagnino, Focus Academy administrator.

TITLE AND CREATOR:

Phase 3 - Reaching Consensus

 

Conclusion

Hopefully, you have become a well cultivated critical thinker. You’ve been able to raise vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely. That you’ve been able to gather and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively coming to well-reasoned conclusion and solution, testing them against relevant criteria and standards. Also, you think open mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences, and finally, you communicate effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.

Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism. Welcome to the thinking world.