Wow what a pleasure! Ross Todd in Singapore, and I got to his 2 lectures and his key-note address. Oh lucky me! It was a pleasure to listen to him. Not only was he very enthusiastic but so knowledgeable and very clear in his expectations. So many people I meet seem to think that an inquiry based curriculum does not have standards. They need to listen to Dr. Todd speak. He is very clear that we should be challenging children to think and striving for deep learning rather than putting out not some of the mediocre stuff that is offered up as inquiry. He argued that we should be aiming to teach children how to transform knowledge rather than transport it. So many children are great at copying and pasting and changing it so it’s in “their own words”. Where is the thinking here? Is this deep knowledge? Are they evaluating? Synthesizing? Creating? I think not.
Children need to be engaged in critical thinking. They need the opportunity to compare different view points and conflicting information. How can they ever make considered decisions if we don’t provide them with authentic engagements that make them consider other opinions?
Whatever task we set the children, regardless of the web tool being used we need to ask these questions. What are they learning? Does it promote critical thinking? Does it encourage and facilitate authentic learning? Does it gather evidence of learning and if so how does this inform our teaching?
Dr Todd argues that whatever engagement, activity, lesson, experience we offer the children we need to ensure that it is offering intellectual engagement. yes it’s great that we are using blogs or Wordle or wikis but what critical thinking or deep learning is happening? are we using these tools as superficial but fancy engagements or are we using them to motivate and inspire? To teach and to challenge? To question and to deepen knowledge and understanding?
If you are interested in more of what he had to say and are looking for ideas on how to challenge your students thinking I suggest you take a look at his presentations on the Hands On Literacy site. I for one will be returning again and again to try and make the most of his experiences and expertise.
On thing I really liked was his link to 38 ways to use Wordle. Take a look if you need new ideas for the classroom.