03 July, 2009

Design for a Thinking Class Period

Promoting Critical Thinking in the Classroom…

Explain to the students, when orienting them to the class, what will happen on a typical class day and why.

In most classes students need practice in active listening, active reading and writing, and disciplined discussion. Designing a typical class day so that students are required (by design) to be actively and thoughtfully involved is an important goal. Here is a possible format you might use in creating your “typical day.”

1. At the end of each class period, assign some section from the textbook for students to read.

2. Where possible, ask students to write out their answers to key questions within those sections.

3. When students come to class on the next class day, place them in pairs or triads.

4. Have each student read his/her paper aloud to the group.

5. As the student is reading his paper aloud, have the other students in the group give the reader feedback on his paper, focusing on two or three intellectual standards such as clarity, relevance, logic.

6. Then lead a brief discussion of the chapter or section you are focused on, using an engaged lecture format or Socratic dialogue.

7. At the end of the class period, assign another section for the students to read and on the next class day begin this process again.

"A society which makes provision for participation in its good of all members on equal terms and which secures flexible readjustment of its institutions through interaction of the different forms of associated life is in so far democratic. Such a society must have a type of education which gives individuals a personal interest in social relationships and control, and the habits of mind which secure social changes."

~John Dewey, Democracy and Education, 1916