Learning is about choices and challenges. Learn to develop technology-rich, inquiry-based learning experiences. Create mental synergy by combining motivating activities with critical and creative thinking.
Are we asking students to solve difficult problems? Are asking them to live fully and think deeply?
Choices and challenges are what learning is all about. Technology provides the tools to develop rich inquiry-based, learning experiences. Traditional testing only gets to a small part of the things we learn in school. It doesn't address the talents and insights that are often the most useful aspects of school.
In schools we often focus on the “thinking” aspect of the mind. However, human consciousness also involves perception, emotion, will, memory, and imagination. Without concentrating on these elements also we’re missing much of the power of the brain. In addition to thinking, reasoning, and knowledge, our brain also processes opinion, motivation, and desire. By focusing so closely on the rational side, we may be losing the power of synergy. By focusing so hard on critical thinking, we may miss wonderful opportunities for creativity.
A balanced curriculum doesn’t take more time. Instead, it focuses on both process and product. As students better understand the why’s and how’s of learning, they are better able to address essential content.
Metacognition involves asking students to “think about thinking”. Whether practicing math facts or making high-level decisions, students need to understand the process of thinking. Technology can help and hinder this process. Mindless drill and practice does nothing to help students understand the why’s of math. Having access to billions of web pages doesn’t help students make good decisions. Technology is only useful if students are information fluent.
We need to nurture the bodies and brains of our students. Rather than junk food, our brains need meaningful learning experiences that will promote mental connections, motivate students to go beyond the basics and encourage positive habits of mind. Like our bodies, our brains need variety. Although students might like ice cream for every meal, we know that they need well-balanced meals.
This session provides dozens of examples across grade levels and subject areas that address the need to provide choice and challenge as we focus on higher-order thinking. It also highlights an approach to information inquiry that promotes both critical and creative thinking using technology as a tool for questioning, data collection, synthesis, communication, and evaluation.