If your kid is attending online classes and there are caring educators on the other end helping you and your child learn, you are very lucky. In countries like mine, the majority of the kids do not have this chance. Actually, the vast majority of the kids and parents are unable to pursue learning because they do not have any connection or home infrastructure. So, sadly, I am writing now to the minority of my fellow citizens – the ones, like myself, that are lucky enough to stay home and assist our kids. Now that everything that happens in class can be viewed, questioned, and explored in many living rooms, parents should help schools step out of the banking educational system and help our children scaffold thinking and engage in ongoing mental work of understanding new ideas and information.
But, how can we busy professionals just trying our best to stay afloat in the myst of a crisis, engage kids in deep learning?
Luckily, there is a great body of research showing Thinking Routines – simple protocols, designed by the research center Project Zero, that can be used in class as well as home to help us understand how to develop thinking processes, make questions, deepen our perceptions, and push our own learning. But, which Thinking Routines can I use from home? Project Zero did an awesome job at separating the strategies for us into categories that describe the types of thinking we need to facilitate (introduce Ideas, explore different points of view, synthese, explore complexities and find opportunities for improvement and action). https://pz.harvard.edu/thinking-routines. Project Zero also made available The “At Home with PZ” toolbox. The page features an easy-to-use search function to help educators and parents find the activities that fit our child’s intellectual needs. Here we summarize some of the activities and thinking routines you can use with your students and own children to assist their thinking processes.
This activity stimulates people to look closely at the complexity behind simple objects. Engage Ss in an object-finding mission in which they seek out objects to be taken apart— pine cones and flowers, toys. We can motivate learners to observe and find answers for themselves:
Before diving into dissecting consider:
• What tools do you need to disassemble the object?
• What do you think you might learn about the object by taking it apart?
As you take apart your object:
• How would you name or describe each part?
• What seem to be the purposes for the various parts?
• Does it seem like it was designed to be taken apart?
As you examine your dissected object, consider these questions:
• What new questions do you have about the object as you take it apart?
• Would you be able to rebuild it?
• What ideas do you have for redesigning this object now that you are familiar with it inside and out?
• How might you use the components from this object for other purposes?
The same idea can be used to investigate a text or even a platform. For example: ask Ss to observe a text and ask:
What are the parts?
Who is the audience?
What information is the text trying to convey?
What is the intention of the writer?
Read the cards to check other activities you can use to help you systematize complex and critical thinking.
For the cards:
INTRO – In a very complex world, we should stimulate our own thinking process and be better at observing closely, asking questions, investigating different points of view, synthesizing, spotting intentionality, and finding opportunities for action. As any other skill, thinking should be practiced. Use Project Zero’s Thinking Routine to fuel up your strategies.
CARD ONE – “The Maker’s Bill of Rights” from Make Magazine begins with a provocative statement: “If you can’t open it, you don’t own it”. To uncover the details and purposes of objects and systems, use the Thinking Routine Take Apart.
Science – Take apart plants or flowers. What are the parts? What are the functions of each part? How do they connect?
Technology - Observe a platform, app or tool. Draw everything you see. Play around and label all the purposes of each icon or feature.
Engineering – Take away a simple toy. Label all the parts and the functions of each one.
Art and Design – Take a look at a piece of art. Answer some questions – What does the piece tell you about the historical time, author, intention?
Math – Observe a sequence of numbers – Fibonacci – What is the logic behind it? What is the relationship between each number in the sequence?