Thursday, June 3, 2010

Critical Thinking and Social Studies - Day 2

I'm now in the second day of the critical thinking and Social Studies day with Roland Case. Yesterday, we worked on understanding inquiry and starting to plan a unit using a template.

We are keeping working on the template today, and have started the day talking about the connection between technology and  critical, creative and collaborative thinking.  Case explains that critical thinking is criteria thinking, then compares it to creative thinking and notes that they are often viewed as opposite.

Case makes the "case" that creative and critical thinking are good partners. He argues that a problem in critical thinking is a situation where the answer is not immediately obvious - he says creative thinking is activated when the problem is concerned with imaging. He also notes that critical thinking is designed to judge the merits of the options. That happens in creative thinking as well, and there is a purpose as well. Then

Case says we also need to do collaborative thinking.  He notes that doing something and then just showing it to others is simply consulting. Collaboration is the act of doing it together, and makes critical and creative thinking much richer and more powerful than it would be otherwise.  His way of thinking was helpful for me here - I have understand the creative and critical thinking parts well, but his summary of collaborative, because it helps me see the connection.

I am often working on helping teachers to understand how technology is not something else, but a useful tool to help us do something that involves critical, collaborative, and creative thinking. Case's framing will be a nice way to help others understand it. However, I notice that Case is slowly easing us into talking about technology. Perhaps he is nervous that we will react poorly as he adds in technology.

Case says each tool has a particular way that it is designed to be used, which has an advantage and disadvantage. He helps us through textbooks and microphones - two technologies we are comfortable with. Then he asks us to talk about a technique - sharing with partners. After we discuss, he suggests alternatives like think/pair/share or email as ways to support effective sharing. Each time he says we must:
  • Explore each technology's orientation and disorientation
  • Play to the strenghts and mitigate the weaknesses
As Case goes through his rules for do's and don'ts around technology I find myself in general agreement but critical of some specific points. Almost all his examples are about interactive whiteboards, which he notes increase transmission unless they are used well. Hopefully I can see some examples of "used well". I think Cases' point that technologies are designed to be used in a specific way is valid, and in my experience, you need to work against the design of the smartboard to create high-level thinking opportunities in the hands of students. I love a good opportunity to do some critical thinking.

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