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Activity 1: Skills and Best Practices

Three Types of Learning

Help students take stock of what they know and do not know. Help them to be conscious of how they fill in their knowledge gaps and to evaluate their own learning. The Taking Stock Table and KWL Charts are ways of organizing information and encouraging student thinking. Since this module requires students to gather information for problem solving and decision making, it may be useful to review the stages of thinking with students. As this site points out, students need to be encouraged to engage in various levels of thinking:

The Three Types of Learning

There is more than one type of learning. A committee of colleges, led by Benjamin Bloom, identified three domains of educational activities. The three domains are cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. Since the work was produced by higher education, the words tend to be a little bigger than we are used to. Domains can be thought of as categories.

Cognitive is for mental skills (Knowledge), affective is for growth in feelings or emotional areas (Attitude), while psychomotor is for manual or physical skills (Skills). Trainers often refer to these as KAS, SKA, or KSA (Knowledge, Attitude, and Skills). This taxonomy of learning behaviors can be thought of as "the goals of the training process." That is, after the training session, the learner should have acquired these new sills, knowledge, or attitudes.

Promoting Higher-Order Thinking Skills

Make the classroom be a "thoughtful one." Such a classroom emphasizes higher-order thinking skills. Teachers committed to this best practice do the following:

Clarify and Refine Important Concepts

Concepts are categories for grouping and understanding phenomena. When students clarify and refine concepts, they focus on defining terms, on making distinctions between examples and non-examples, on showing how concepts relate to each other, and on making concepts meaningful by relating them to prior knowledge. Teachers committed to clarifying concepts do the following:

Critical Thinking Skills

There is a growing body of knowledge that indicates that students can learn to think critically and to apply modes of thinking appropriate to social studies when such skills are taught explicitly in connection with social studies content. Teachers may help students with critical thinking skills by focusing on the following tasks:

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning also contributes to higher-order thinking. As this site points out:

Cooperative learning has become increasingly popular in the last few years. The use of technology in the educational setting is also a relatively new phenomenon. The combination of cooperative learning and technology seems to be a match that could improve several aspects of education and learning. A great deal of research indicates that cooperative learning and the use of technology, separately, have positive effects on cognitive and affective learning. Some research, analyzing the combination of cooperative learning with technology, indicates positive results as well. However, there are few models that integrate cooperative learning with both technological and non-technological approaches to promote retention, understanding, and problem solving. Elements of teaching that promote higher-level thinking skills necessary for problem solving include discussions, reading, writing, summarizing, real-life situations, and collaboration.