Another memorable annual LCEEQ Conference took place this February at the Laval Sheraton, entitled The Thinking Classroom. Once again, there were over 700 Quebec English educators from all school boards, Colleges and Universities, including all levels and sectors, private schools, and the Ministry of Education. Educators gathered to learn, to interact, and to grow professionally enhancing critical thinking in Quebec classrooms. The end result being the professional refinement of learning activities that foster students’ ability to actively engage as critical thinkers in their own learning. The keynote speakers Garfield Gini-Newman and Barrie Bennett strongly encouraged educators to challenge their students.
Garfield Gini-Newman reminded us that engaged learners get actively involved in that learning and become more interactive. Teachers are the choreographers of learning and as such, need to create critical tasks that provide opportunities for students to:
- rework the piece,
- perform to specs, and
- design to specs.
In creating thinking classrooms, today’s educators digitally enhance learning opportunities by aligning the use of technology to develop 21st century competencies, thus new teaching methodologies are evolving. Thinking classrooms invite teachers who:
- problematize everything,
- launch learning with set criteria,
- frame criteria-based questions to extract evidence-based responses,
- provide guidance to inform thinking,
- create opportunities for thinking,
- build capacity to think and,
- shape the climate to support thinking.
In thinking classrooms, all tasks and questions are framed to extract criteria and evidenced-based answers and output employing critical thinking skills. Students in thinking classrooms provide plausible options, reasoned judgments, relevant criteria and appropriate evidence.
Barrie Bennett framed his talk around the point that if we want thinking classrooms, then the teacher and the students must understand the concepts. Teachers need to make what they do tacitly, become explicit. Concepts need to come alive and be comprehended. This is the role of the teacher in presenting and framing the concepts. Thinking classrooms set up a disposition for thinking routines by having students regularly engage in specific practises. Students then are given opportunities to examine the differences between facts and concepts. As part of core teaching practices in thinking classrooms, teachers offer students opportunities to design knowledge and not just be recipients of information. Students are given opportunities to observe, record, interpret and share concepts. In this fashion, students become reflective learners and critical thinkers.
Several presenters shared electronic links to sites and useful classroom activities. Please take the time to visit these links and share these with colleagues who did not attend the conference. These links have been found to be useful to educators and keep the learning going after the conference.
LCEEQ sincerely hopes that you enjoyed the conference and want to thank all the speakers and presenters who made the concept of The Thinking Classroom come alive. A big thank you to all attendees whose engagement and exchanges enhanced the learning.
Lastly, please mark on your calendar February 11 and 12, 2019 for LCEEQ’s next annual conference entitled “Well Being - Being Well”. We look forward to seeing you there next year.