ENGAGING STUDENTS IS AS EASY AS 1, 2.

Everyone loves recognition. It satisfies, and it motivates, but without a connection to something that matters, or something of significance, it doesn’t engage anyone.

My principal, during the times when she visited to observe or formally evaluate my teaching performance, left sticky-note messages thanking me for doing well and listing at least three specific points that stood out to her as well-done. It took the edge off the whole evaluation process and just plain felt good.

Why? Because it had significance. It meant something to me.

It satisfied my need to feel treated like a professional and kept me motivated to continue developing my skills, but more important—it made me feel like my contributions were helpful to the goals of the school and the needs of the students—

—and it kept me engaged for the betterment of the system.

Recognition becomes significant enough to be memorable and makes us want to do more when the feedback we get moves beyond praises for effort and into gratitude for accomplishments. It’s a great management strategy, and one that business developer Manohar Kamath discusses well in his article “Random Acts of Recognition-Motivating Your Team Regularly”.

This is also true for students. Recognition and experiences that matter mean everything. Recognize them for accomplishments, and get them involved in Project Based Learning activities where they learn to develop the critical thinking skills needed to accomplish something significant—significant enough for them to understand how their actions affect their lives and the lives of others, and how their contributions matter for the greater good—

—and they will be completely engaged.

Think-and-Take Mini-Lesson #5
“Consider The Significance”
Lesson from GoTeachGo
Critical Thinking – The Complete Starter Guide – All Grade Levels
THIS WEEK: Independence Day – Pay What You Want Special on CurrClick

Each of these mini-lessons is preparing students for the critical thinking skills they will need to use in Project-Based Learning Units of study. They make great openers to read kids for class.

You teach students to find evidence to support their opinions or assertions all of the time. But when you teach them to analyze, examine, and question how others arrived at the conclusions they made, their understanding deepens and new insights are achieved.

Remind your students that each day that each day this week they practiced skills that smart thinkers use to make good decisions and solve problems. Use this mini-lesson as a bell-ringer (and the last one in the critical thinking series) and wake your class up to a deeper level of learning. Tell your students these skills are called critical thinking skills, and remind them smart thinkers use them every day.

The Mental Checklist of all five skills will be used each week as reference in each mini-lesson.
Looking for Evidence
Making Connections
Point of View
Considering and Imagining Alternatives
Considering Significance
Procedures

1. Write on the board the objective: Yesterday you learned about the thinking skill “Considering Alternatives”. Today our learning outcomes are to begin developing the critical thinking skill of “Considering Significance” and participate in activities where you brainstorm things that are significant to you and analyze other situations to determine their significance. (You can word this your way).

2. Show students the Mental Checklist on the ELMO or SmartBoard. Review with students the five critical thinking skills, and remind them they will be practicing and learning 1 new skill each day.

3. Introduce the new thinking skill with an all class discussion.
Start with a whole class discussion. Ask these questions and encourage responses with specific examples.
–What does significance mean to you?
–What matters to you?
–Why does it matter to you?

4. Brainstorm a list of synonyms for significance – Make sure one of them
is value.
–Discuss the general meaning of significance in things, situations, actions and people that are significance.

5. Individual Work – Display this picture on the ELMO
–Have students write one thing that is valuable to them.
–Then have them write one thing that they think is valuable about themselves.
–Have students brainstorm individually
–things, situations, or places that have significance to them.
–choose as many students as want to share.

6. Ask students the following question and choose as many students as want to share.
–What did you learn about considering significance?
–How hard was it to come up with what you have done that is significance?
–What most did you learn about significance?

7. End the lesson by having students write a paragraph. Have them write about the questions discussed in class. Remind them they are to write about what they learned about the skill of “Considering Significance”. Perhaps they can describe an experience that was significant to them and how they felt about it. How did this significance affect the way you continued to work?

Be sure to walk around as students are writing, and observe their responses while prompting them for specific details where needed.

8. Collect paragraphs from students who want you to share what they have written, and put them in one stack. Put the others in a second stack. Assure students whose paragraphs you will read that you will not read aloud their names unless they have let you know it is okay to do so.

9. On Grading: You can collect them and count them as participation points for daily grades, and have students file them in their writing portfolios daily. Then they can revisit them each week to monitor their understanding. Or you can let students keep them as a reminder of what they are learning throughout the week, and have them turn the paragraphs in each week or file them weekly and turn them all in at the end of each quarter. No matter how you assess these paragraphs, you will have gotten the students thinking about their thinking.

And that’s the objective!

THIS WEEK: Independence Day – Pay What You Want Special on CurrClick

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