Critical Learning Just another WordPress site Mon, 29 Nov 2010 05:00:00 +0000 en hourly 1 Questioning Techniques: A Tool for Teaching Critical Thinking Mon, 29 Nov 2010 05:00:00 +0000 Mary White Using instructional strategies that are designed to require students to analyze information critically is a great way to help them develop sound strategic thinking skills that can serve them well throughout their lifetimes. If you want your students to learn how to use critical thinking strategies, it’s important to incorporate questioning techniques designed to make them think and analyze information into your teaching methods. Of course, not every question facilitates mastery of critical thinking skills. It’s up to you to incorporate the use of appropriate questioning techniques into your lesson plans.

3 Examples of Questioning Techniques for Critical Thinking: 

  • Student Generated Questions: Instead of giving students questions to answer about their homework and assigned reading activities, have them come up with their own questions about what they have read. Use the questions that students come up with as points of discussion in class. Probe students to explain why they chose to ask certain things and have students describe what they learned as a result of the activity.
  • Strength and Weakness Questions: Instead of asking students to answer questions that merely require repeating what was covered in class discussions or textbooks, ask them to identify and explain the strengths and weaknesses of arguments related to the covered information.
  • Position Questioning: Ask students to take a side on a particular issue and have them answer questions that support the side they have chosen. For deeper learning and application of critical thinking strategies, have students come up with questions of their own to ask classmates who are arguing the opposite side of the issue.


]]> 0 Powerful Resource for Math and Science Teachers Fri, 26 Nov 2010 05:00:00 +0000 Yvonne Stewart

Are you looking for a resource designed to meet the unique needs of educators who teach math and science? That’s exactly what is. This fee-based subscription website is a comprehensive, one-stop resource for math and science teachers who are looking for quality lesson plans, instructional resources and professional development tools specific to teaching math and science. Features
With a subscription, teachers will have access to a wealth of information and resources that can support their science and math related teaching endeavors. provides subscribing schools with access to:

  • Downloadable lesson plans designed to be consistent with standards for teaching math and science
  • Math and science resources presented in a searchable online database format
  • Quality articles that provide math and science teaching tips, ideas, and best practices
  • Current news, issues, and information relevant to math and science instruction
  • Tools to aid teachers in planning math and science instruction
  • Professional development activities and ideas for math and science educators
  • Access to the GoENC Focus magazine for math and science teachers
  • Many other useful tools and resources for teaching math and science Fee Structure
There are single school and district wide subscription options for Individual middle and elementary schools can subscribe for $299 per year. The annual fee is $349 for high school students. Depending on size, school districts can receive discounts of up to 67 percent per school. To order your subscription or to learn more see

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3 Examples of Classroom Technology Thu, 25 Nov 2010 05:00:00 +0000 Mary White If you want to provide your students with truly engaging, interactive learning experiences, consider incorporating different types of classroom technology into your lesson plans. There are many options for enhancing lessons across the curriculum with educational technology.

3 Ways to Use Technology in the Classroom:
A few examples of classroom technology that you may want to consider using to enhance your lessons include:

  • Computerized Presentations: The days of making class presentation notes on index cards should be placed firmly in the past. Instead, encourage (or require) your students to use PowerPoint or OpenOffice presentation software to put together visually appealing, dynamic presentations that can be shown via an overhead projector.
  • Internet Activities: The Internet makes it easy for teachers to bring all sorts of multimedia elements into their classes. For example, you can find and show quality video clips to enhance your lessons on YouTube and other online resources to enhance lessons. Help students develop critical thinking skills by searching online for research from quality sources to support or refute ideas about what you are studying. You can even create a Wiki for your class that students can contribute to as part of their class assignments or homework.
  • SMART Boards: If you’re looking for a way to fully integrate technology and multimedia content into your teaching efforts, using a SMART Board is a terrific option. This type of educational technology allows teachers to quickly and easily display interactive media, software applications, and online to students throughout lessons.


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Recommended Reading: Science, Creation and the Bible Wed, 24 Nov 2010 05:00:00 +0000 Yvonne Stewart

Understanding Creation Science
Do you want to learn more about creation science? While there are many people who argue strongly for and against the concept of pure creationism, there is growing support for the notion of creation science. Rather than asserting that it’s not possible for scientific and religious notions about the origins of humanity to co-exist, those who put stock in the idea of creation science argue that the two are not mutually exclusive.

Doesn’t that sound like something you need to learn more about? After, all, as an educator, you owe it to yourself and your students to learn everything that you can about the various perspectives that exist about the idea of just how mankind came into being. No matter where your personal beliefs lie, it can certainly be beneficial for you to develop a better understanding of what creation science is.

About Science, Creation and the Bible: Reconciling Rival Theories of Origins
If you want to learn more about how those who subscribe to creation science reconcile the ideas of creationism with scientific study, consider reading Science, Creation and the Bible: Reconciling Rival Theories of Origins by Richard F. Carlson, a physicist, and Tremper Longman III, a biblical scholar. Carlson and Longman are both considered experts in their fields.

In the book, rather than arguing science versus religion, the two share information that helps readers understand how it’s possible to resolve what seem to be conflicting perspectives by looking at the true meaning of relevant biblical passages and understanding that it’s possible to learn through scientific discovery as well as the limitation of science.

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United Way: A Commitment to Education Tue, 23 Nov 2010 05:00:00 +0000 Mary White

Most people know that the United Way holds an annual fundraising drive every year and that the organization provides support to many nonprofit organizations in communities throughout the United States. However, what isn’t as well known is the fact that the United Way is committed to having a positive impact on the American educational system.

United Way Education Initiative
The United Way is committed to helping improve the high school graduation rate in America. The organization launched a decade long dropout reduction initiative in 2008 with the goal of reducing the U.S. high school dropout rate by 50 percent by the year 2018. This is an ambitious goal, but it’s certainly one that’s important—and doable, with commitment and support from volunteers and donors, with cooperative efforts from the public and private sectors.

Dropout Reduction Focus Areas
Reducing the high school dropout rate is something that involves effort at every level of the educational system, from pre-kindergarten through high school graduation. In order to accomplish the dropout reduction initiative objectives, the United Way has established focus areas that encompass:

  • Pre-entry school success preparation
  • Reading proficiency prior to fourth grade
  • Successful transitions from elementary to middle schools
  • Encouraging on-time high school graduation
  • Preparation for success in college and the workplace

How Can You Help?
There are many ways to participate in the United Way’s efforts. Consider making a donation or get involved as a volunteer. For just a few ideas, consider helping out at a local school, getting involved in a United Way Community Care Day event, becoming a literacy tutor, and more. Contact the United Way organization in your community to learn more about ways that you can make a difference.

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Recommended Reading for Education Fundraising Mon, 22 Nov 2010 05:00:00 +0000 Yvonne Stewart Are you looking for fundraising tips to help you raise money for your school or for your classroom? There are a number of great books written especially for the education fundraising market. The next time you need to plan a fundraiser and you want to come up with a new idea, consider reviewing one or more of the following books. You’re likely to find a great idea that no one else in your community has tried just yet!

Recommended Education Fundraising Books:
The following books are excellent resources for teachers, parents and others who are seeking fundraising tips.

  • Beyond the Bake Sale: The Ultimate School Fund-Raising Book by Jean C. Joachim: This book is filled with great ideas for school fundraisers, including information on how to set up a fundraising team, national organizations that offer sales commissions to schools, unique successful fundraising event ideas, suggestions for getting parents involved in raising money, and more
  • Big-Time Fundraising for Today’s Schools by Stanley Levenson – This book provides many outside the box ideas for educational fundraising, that go far beyond holding sales and local special events. When you read this book, you’ll learn strategies for generating board member commitment to fundraising, community involvement, finding grant funding sources, writing successful grant applications, and much more.
  • FUNdraising: 50 Proven Strategies for Successful School Fundraisers by Frank Sennett: This book is an excellent resource for anyone who is looking for a new fundraising idea. The suggestions for how to raise money presented in this publication are designed with school fundraising needs in mind. The ideas are creative and fun, and provide cost effective options for meeting school fundraising goals.


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AIAA Foundation Classroom Technology Grants Fri, 19 Nov 2010 05:00:00 +0000 Mary White

Do you have a great idea for enhancing your science or math lessons with technology lessons, but need a little extra money to purchase the supplies or software that you need? Consider applying for one of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation classroom technology grants to help pay for the items that you need.

Eligibility for AIAA Classroom Grants
The AIAA Foundation grant program is open to Professional and Educator Associate members of AIAA who are employed as K-12 teachers who are responsible for developing and/or applying science, math or technology instruction in the classroom. The program focuses on providing resources for teachers who have ideas to enhance their students’ learning experiences in the areas of science, math and technology.

Application Process
In order to be considered for funding, eligible teachers must submit a grant proposal that includes a synopsis of the proposed lesson and details about what the requested funds will be used for. The synopsis must also include an itemized cost list of the desired items. It must also demonstrate a relationship between the proposed project and the purpose of AIAA.

Funding Amounts
Projects selected for funding may receive $200 to be used as specified in the submitted proposal. While multiple teachers from the same school may receive funds, recipients are not allowed to pool their funds to purchase individual items that cost more than $200 each. There is a maximum of $1000 per school per year and individual teachers may only receive funds one time.

Funding Cycle
The AIAA Foundation considers project proposals for teacher grants four times each year—January, March, June and September. Proposals must be received a month in advance of the review date.

Additional Information: To learn more about AIAA Foundation grants for teachers, see the Classroom Grants page on the website.

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Recommended Reading: Beyond Heroes and Holidays Thu, 18 Nov 2010 05:00:00 +0000 Yvonne Stewart

It’s so important for K-12 teachers to expand their knowledge about what multiculturalism education really is. That’s why every teacher should consider reading Enid Lee’s Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K 12 Anti Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development.

What You’ll Learn from Beyond Heroes and Holidays
When you read Beyond Heroes and Holidays, you’ll be challenged to look at the issue of racism from several angles, as well as other oppressive beliefs that run counter to the concept of a truly inclusive learning environment. Readers are challenged to consider the origins of racism and how it impacts lives at individual and societal levels. The book explores how racism is tied to other oppressive attitudes, including sexist, classist and hetero-centric beliefs.

The book provides teachers and school administrators with ideas for ways to incorporate multiculturalism education considerations into lesson plans across the curriculum. Readers will learn practical ways that cultural and racial diversity can be incorporated into teaching in a constructive, bias-free manner that will facilitate a greater understanding and respect for diversity.

About the Publisher: Teaching for Change
Beyond Heroes and Holidays is published by Teaching for Change, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing about social change by helping foster true multiculturalism, beginning by eliminating racism within the American educational system. The book is designed to be a practical guide for educators across the curriculum, as well as school administrators, parents, and students themselves.

Beyond Heroes and Holidays has been quite influential since its 1998 publication date. The book is actually used as a textbook in many college-level Multicultural Education courses. It’s also been read and used by many K-12 teachers, school administrators, and others with an interest in creating schools that are truly inclusive and free from bias and prejudice. As of 2010, the book has sold more than 55,000 copies.

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Recommended Resources: ESL Teaching Books Wed, 17 Nov 2010 05:00:00 +0000 Mary White Are you looking for resources to help you enhance your ESL lesson plans? Do you want to provide your English as a Second Language (ESL) students with quality activities to enhance their learning experiences? There are a number of great ESL books written specifically to serve as resources for educators who teach ESL to beginning students in a K-12 environment.

3 Recommended ESL Teacher Resource Books:

  • Easy & Engaging ESL Activities and Mini-Books for Every Classroom by Kama Einhorn: This book is an excellent resource for educators who teach ESL to beginning English speakers at the elementary and middle school level. It includes ideas that can help students assess student needs, suggestions for communicating effectively with family members of pupils, instructions for creating booklets designed to help with vocabulary building ESL lessons, and more.
  • ESL Active Learning Lessons by Imogene Forte: This book is a great resource for teachers who provide ESL instruction to beginning level students in elementary, middle school, and high school environments. The book is divided into topic-specific units appropriate for K-12 learners. It includes features practice exercises and activities for reinforcement of each content area.
  • ESL Games and Classroom Activities by Lucia Gorea, Ph.D.: This book features dozes of games and activities designed to be reproduced for use in ESL classes for beginning ESL students. It includes clear instructions for each exercise, as well as definitions of terms written with the needs of beginner ESL students in mind.


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4 Tips for Inclusive Teaching Tue, 16 Nov 2010 05:00:00 +0000 Yvonne Stewart

It’s important for teachers to realize that most classrooms are populated with students from a wide variety of backgrounds with varying learning styles, talents and ability levels. Because classroom and school diversity is a given, it’s essential for teachers to consider the differences among students when selecting teaching strategies and methods. Rather than expecting everyone to respond to the same type of instruction, educators should use a variety of teaching methods as a way of accounting for individual learning differences.

4 Teaching Methods for Inclusive Instruction:

  • Provide Encouragement: As a teacher, you are responsible for helping students master course objectives. When students are slow to learn, it’s up to you to encourage them to continue trying until mastery is obtained in a positive, supportive way.
  • Provide Learning Strategy Help: Teachers must understand that that their students may not naturally seek alternate learning strategies. When you see a student struggling to master content, provide suggestions for alternate approaches. Be prepared to model the strategies that you suggest to students as a way of helping them learn.
  • Clear Expectations: Provide students with clear information about what is expected of them. Make sure assignments are specific, deadlines are clear, and evaluation criteria are properly conveyed. Use language that is precise, specific, and concrete when teaching, creating assignments, and writing syllabi.
  • Consider Special Needs: Ensure that content can be conveyed to all students in the class, regardless of any special needs or challenges that students may face. For example, enable captions when showing video-based instructional materials to meet the needs of students who have hearing impairments.


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