Designing Brain Compatible Learning Thinking Skills Adapted from Designing Brain Compatible Learning by Terence Parry and Gayle Gregory What Are They? Creative Thinking – – – – – – – – divergent - seeks multiple solutions to problems divergent means to move outward in many directions from a given point scan information already stored or seek new information depends on myriad connections and cross connections -- connections of fragments of ideas or information combined in new and different ways not particularly random and accidental -- the brain cannot connect with what it does not have ( we need a broad curriculum not a narrow one) best creative thinking happens when the mind is slightly disengaged from the problem at hand collects new information that appear to swirl around in the brain looking for ways of connecting to other information to see if any viable patterns are formed. creative thinking cannot exist without critical thinking. Critical Thinking – – – – – convergent - seeks to narrow the field of options by applying some criteria or evaluation to the data convergent means to move inward form many points and focus on a single point in practice, we move unconsciously between divergence and convergence and back again example: when buying a car, the buyer begins to think divergently by scanning the available information on makes and models then switches to critical mode by applying criteria to the options (price, 2- or 4-door, city or country use, personal or family use, etc.), then the brain scans all available cars in that category which produces a limited number of acceptable items it is not particularly linear or logical; rather it is often muddled or messy -- that may be the best buy, but I really like the blue one . . . Or, I know, but I hate Fords! Taxonomies - Categorizing Thinking Bloom’s Taxonomy – – – – – – knowledge - recall, identify, list, locate, label comprehension - give examples, summarize, paraphrase application - deduce, infer, predict, adapt, modify, solve analysis - subdivide, discriminate, classify, categorize synthesis - generalize, create, compose, combine, rearrange, design evaluation - judge, compare, contract, criticize, justify, conclude Quellmalz’s Taxonomy – – – – – recall - repeat or paraphrase key facts, concepts, and principles analysis - divide the whole into components, sequence events or actions comparison - explain similarities or differences inference - hypothesize predict, conclude, synthesize, if-then evaluation - judge quality, worth, or credibility of ideas Taxonomies are organized by type of thinking not by level of difficulty – – – – – – – – How many bears are there in the story of Goldilocks? (K) Can you write out the periodic table of elements from memory? (K) What happens when you go out in the rain? (C) What is the theory behind quantum physics? (C) Take this box of buttons and sort them into categories. (A) Select three well-known fairy tales and analyze them in terms of common or recurring elements. (A) Which is better, vanilla or strawberry ice cream? (E) Which is the best type of government, democracy or communism? (E) Why Do We Need Thinking Skills? The ability to critically analyze information as a way to make decisions is the key to becoming a well-informed citizen and is the first line of defense of our democratic rights and privileges. One of the primary goals of education is to produce well-functioning, productive, happy citizens who are capable of reaching both personal and professional goals. Such goals are predicated on the ability to think and, yet, in many schools thinking receives a very sketchy or cursory treatment at best. How Do We Teach Thinking Skills? Thinking skills should be taught within the context of the regular program as opposed to being taught as a stand-alone or an add-on item to an already crowded curriculum. The skills need to be explicitly taught, and students need ample opportunity to practice them, AND to have time to reflect on what they have learned through some form of metacognition. Using Taxonomies When used in conjunction with lesson design, a taxonomy guides the teacher in understanding what the students are expected to learn and how they will demonstrate that learning. A taxonomy allows the teacher to design questions requiring higherorder thinking that are at a level of difficulty within the students’ capabilities. Thinking skills are usually taught in sequences and combinations (relates to the hierarchy of the taxonomy). Acquire information = recall and comprehension Extend information = application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation because the brain uses what it has learned to make new connections, creative applications, and elegant solutions to problems. Metacognition - reflecting on our own thinking “Being conscious of our own thinking and problem solving during the act of thinking and problem solving is known as metagocnition. It is a uniquely human ability occurring in the cerebral cortex of the brain. Interestingly, it has been found that good problem solvers do it; they plan a course of action before they begin a task. They monitor themselves during the execution of the plan, they consciously back up or adjust the plan, and they evaluate themselves upon completion.” Arthur Costa A very useful and flexible tool Teachers should pause every ten to fifteen minutes to give students a chance to process the information with a partner or in small groups. The process of “talking about new information” is a major tool in arriving at understanding because it is only when one has constructed personal meaning from a body of information that one can truly be said to have learned it. Metacognitive Strategies General Problem-Solving Metaquestions – Define the problem: What am I being asked to do or find out? – Establish preconditions: What information have I been given? – Scan previous learning: What strategies have I used in similar situations? – Access information: Who or what could help me with this? – Develop a plan: What will be step one, step two, step three? – Sequence activities into a timeline: What has to be done by when? – Monitor the plan: How much time do I have? Should I persevere or start over? – Evaluate the solutions: How well does the solution conform to the criteria? – Assess the performance: What helped me in this process? What hindered me? What would I do differently next time? – Extension of knowledge: What new skills have I learned? Can I replicate this solution or apply it to other situations? Metacognitive Strategies cont’d. In-Lesson Metaquestions – – – – Thinking Level Metaquestions – – What are the big ideas or concepts? How well does this information fit with what I already know? What generalizations or inferences can I make from this information? Are there any questions or concerns that I still have? What type of thinking is built into this question (e.g., analysis, synthesis, inductive reasoning)? What type of thinking do I need to engage in in order to answer this question? Applying/Transferring Skills Metaquestions – Are there other uses for this knowledge or skill? – – – What are some other situations where I might apply this skill? Can I transfer the skill as is or do I need to change it in some way? How could I modify or adapt this skill to suit my particular need? Metacognitive Strategies cont’d. PMI - Particularly useful as a framework for discussion after exposure to a poem, essay, commentary, audio or videotape (especially at 10 or 15 minute intervals) – Plus – Minus – I agree with the main ideas for the following reasons . . . This fits in with what I already know about . . . This has given me further insight into the situation in the following way . . . I do not agree with this for the following reasons . . . This is at odds with what I know about . . . I have questions or concerns about . . . Interesting Questions/Comments This is a whole new slant on the subject in terms of . . . I have never thought of it as . . . I can adapt some of these ideas and use them by . . . Metacognitive Strategies cont’d. Six Hat Thinking - Students are assigned a specific colored hat and then use the type of thinking represented by that hat in a small-group or full-class discussion. – – – – – – The white hat thinkers look for hard facts, figures, and data. They maintain a cool and neutral outlook on the topic or material. The yellow hat thinkers look for all the positive aspects. They reflect optimism, try to remain enthusiastic, and find the constructive ideas and possible benefits related to the topic/material. The purple hat thinkers focus on the negative aspects. They look for flaws, faults, and reasons why something won’t work. The red hat thinkers deal with the hunches, intuitions, emotions, and feelings they have about the topic. The green hat thinkers use the topic or material as a spring board for creative adaptations, options, and alternatives. They look for opportunities “outside the box,” or beyond the obvious. The blue hat thinkers draw conclusions from the material. They provide definitions of concepts and summaries of the major ideas. Questioning Strategies - to enhance, clarify, and extend student thinking Wait Time – – Higher-Order Questions – Utilize questions that require students to analyze, synthesize, apply, and evaluate - (post verb list so students know what is expected) Question Distribution – Three seconds or longer between posing the question and requesting a response -- if especially complex, wait ten seconds Think, pair, share Gender sensitive -- try a preplanned arrangement -- call on each more than once Responding to Students’ Responses – – – Positive and reinforcing are usually good, but can hinder creative thinking Use probes and follow-up questions Play devil’s advocate or have students “attack” their own answers Critical Thinking Deductive thinking – We present a concept and then have students examine specific examples to see if they conform to the rules or generalizations relating to the concept (democracy). Inductive thinking – – Students examine a number of examples that have the same definition and look for the attributes that they have in common (democracy). Allows students to make inferences and form hypotheses Concept Attainment Bruner – the way in which we learn to classify information and form concepts is a process of identifying the critical attributes and then forming generalizations. Example – a child learns the family pet is a “dog” and calls all animals “dog” until someone intervenes and explains that some are “cats,” etc. More abstract concepts such as “justice” to a child might be “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” until he/she encounters a wider range of examples and perceives “justice” in greater depth. Concept attainment strategy promotes the development of inductive thinking by using critical attributes to form concepts and to understand the characteristics that allow a particular item to belong to a general category. In its simplest form, it is a classification activity. Concept attainment strategy is teacher controlled which means that the teacher presents the data as a series of positive or negative examples of the concept to be learned (sometimes called examples and non-examples). When away from school, we all work through a similar process of examining examples and non-examples as a way of understanding either with or without the intervention of a teacher. Concept Attainment Example Insects As a focus, activating prior knowledge brings information to an individual’s working memory and increases the chance that new information will find a similar body of knowledge that previously has been acquired. Draw two columns – label one “yes” and one “no.” Place pictures of various creepy crawlers in the appropriate column and eventually have the children discuss the critical attributes of all the items in the “yes” column. Then use another picture and ask where it should be placed. Repeat as needed. What do all the creatures in the “yes” column have in common? (The students list the characteristics they have noticed – all insects have six legs and they all have tree body segments.) Present additional “clues” as necessary until all students have gained the concept. Concept Attainment Example Metaphors Activate students’ memory by revisiting several pieces of poetry and discuss what they know about imagery, metaphors, similes, and analogies. Make two columns – label one “yes” and the other “no.” Provide an example on paper such as “the curtain of night brought the day to a close” and put it in the “yes” column. Provide another example on paper such a “the night descended like a curtain” and place it in the “no” column. Continue with several examples and begin to have students hypothesize the “yes” examples as metaphors. Test with additional examples. Continue hypothesizing and check against other examples. Concept Attainment Applications Why not just tell the students the characteristics and save a whole bunch of time? Brain-compatible classrooms encourage students to construct knowledge for themselves as opposed to being told the facts. In addition to learning about the designated concept, the students have reinforced their knowledge of critical attributes and the significance they play in the formation of concepts. Concept attainment is extremely useful across the curriculum. It can be incorporated into lesson design in a number of places, including the beginning of a lesson to activate prior learning, the instructional phase of the lesson to introduce a new concept, and the end of the lesson as a check for understanding. Concept attainment is especially useful for concepts that are abstract, complex, or subject to a number of interpretations. Concept Formation Developed by Hilda Taba (1967) to assist students in developing their abilities to think inductively, categorize information, and use new information to make inferences and predict consequences. It is essentially a classification activity in which the students either are given a set of data to sort and classify or create a data set for themselves. More student centered and less teacher directed because students have more control over the data. Its power comes from the discussion and interchange of ideas that take place as students make decision about what information belongs in what category. Bruce Joyce – “The purpose of concept formation strategy is to induce students to expand the conceptual systems with which they process information. Thus, in the first phase they are required to do something with the data, which requires them to alter or expand their capacity for handling information. In other words, they have to form concepts that they subsequently use to handle new information as it comes their way.” A concept is a body of information that for some reason clusters into a group or classification, or, in other words, a pattern. Concept formation is an inductive process in which students process information as a deep level of understanding and construct meaning for themselves , thereby forming the cognitive structures that “hold” the information better than those structures the teacher may provide for them. Concept Formation Example – Systems and Processes Activate prior learning by leading a discussion about supermarkets and stores, asking questions such as “What are different types of stores in town? What are some of the products that are available to us on a daily basis? How do these products get to the shelves of our local stores? State the objective and purpose for the lesson – “Today we are going to look at systems and processes. We will do this by focusing on the systems and processes that allow us to have wide variety of goods in our stores. To help us understand this information, we are going to use a thinking strategy called concept formation.” Form students into groups of four and give each group an envelope containing several slips of paper on which is written a physical location related to an area of manufacturing or retailing, such as a fish processing plant, retail fish store, lumber mill, building supply store, steel mill, or automobile showroom. Students sort them into categories that makes sense to all the group members. Category names are unnecessary at this point. Students explain how they arrived at their groupings. Then they name the groups (or the teacher may supply names). After further discussion, the teacher might assign students to search for information about the primary industries of their home state and whether or not they have secondary industries to support them. Students can predict consequences of primary industries with weak or inadequate secondary industries. Concept Formation Variation Students can generate their own data. Example – The project is for the students to develop a set of classroom behavioral norms. To activate prior learning students can discuss why rules are necessary. For the input phase of the lesson, students form groups of four to six students and each student is given five 3” X 2” sheets of paper. (This is an arbitrary number, but it works well.) They then work individually to decide five important behaviors and to write each on a single sheet or paper. (They are told that they will discuss their ideas with others at a later time.) Then each group pools their sheets, sorts them into groups, or categories, according to the characteristics they have in common. Keep them unnamed until they have really fussed with moving items around. To name them too soon often tends to force items to fit into a particular group. The teacher asks each group in turn to provide the name of one of its categories and lists the names on chart paper. As a class, the students discuss any gaps and overlaps in the list and turn any negative statements into positive ones. As an extension of the activity, the students can describe what each of the listed behaviors would look like and sound like if the students were demonstrating it (a common cooperative group technique). This can be extended to recognizing the critical attributes of excellent work, etc. Creative Thinking Some people may have more innate creativity, but students can be taught to think more creatively. The teacher’s role is to provide the conditions or learning climate that values and fosters creative thinking and to teach students tools or structures that enable them to develop their creative capabilities. Conditions should include a relaxed and happy environment in which students enjoy the challenge of creative thinking and are encouraged to take risks and try new and different approaches to finding creative solutions. To think creatively, one should be in a state of relaxed alertness, which means that one is relaxed enough o allow his or her brain some latitude in making connections but alert enough to recognize a good idea. Don’t think too hard! Brainstorming Any and all ideas should be accepted. Keep time limit of thirty to sixty seconds. – – – – D – Defer judgment; no put-downs O – Opt for originality V – Variety and vast numbers of ideas are what we are looking for E – Expand by association; piggyback off the ideas of others The essence of brainstorming is the rapid-fire of generation of ideas.