What is a Thinking Skill?

July 5th, 2015

blooms-taxonomy-2To “think” is to use your mind actively to connect thoughts, ideas and facts together to generate new ones. Using Bloom’s redesigned taxonomy as a guide we can see that thinking begins with the ability to “remember” and develops through several stages to “creating.” These stages are called higher order thinking skills. They are the skills we use every day jto problem solve, and think critically. They are also the skills that students will be asked to demonstrate using the Common Core of knowledge on the PARCC test.

To be able to get to the highest level of create, we need certain skills:

  • A strong working memory (or a reliable way to help it)
  • Ability to interpret information
  • Make inferences
  • Compare and contrast
  • Ask questions
  • Look for new connections
  • Analyze information
  • Think “outside the box”
  • Become an active learner
  • Think about your thinking
  • Take chances and don’t be afraid of failure

We all have areas we are stronger in than others. Here are some of the executive function skills that can impact your ability to think and create. Can you see how difficulty with any of these skills can hinder your ability?

  • Getting started – are you getting the things that need to be done, done?
  • Focus – can you work long enough with enough attention to detail to finish accurately?
  • Inhibit – are you impulsive?
  • Monitor – do you see how your actions affect others?
  • Cognitive flexibility – do you get stuck in your thinking or continue to do things the same way expecting a different result?
  • Working memory – forget what you are doing or how to do it, temporarily?
  • Emotional control – can you control your emotions through frustration, anger, stress, and/or boredom?
  • Metacognition – are you able to think about your thinking?

How do these skills play out in the real world? For adults, it may be about making a good decision, solving a problem in a unique way, or putting information together in a new way that leads to something improved. It is about having a spark of an idea and being able to slowly ignite it into something wonderful. Thinking is what keeps us and the world moving forward. Teaching students how to “think” and solve problems is essential for humanities sake. After all, who knows who will solve the BIG problems the world faces?

Is it a Pineapple or a Banana?

April 8th, 2015

pineappleEver wonder why certain things don’t seem to get done? Whether it is the laundry, a report at work, or a project your child is struggling with, there is one major reason. It is because it is a “pineapple!”

Let me explain. If you were hungry and in a hurry as we often are, which fruit would you chose for a snack, a pineapple or a banana? You would probably pick the banana because it is easy to grab and eat, and only takes a second to unwrap before you are enjoying it. The pineapple, on the other hand, has to be peeled, cored and chopped before it is ready to eat. The banana is a “task” and the pineapple is a “project”. Do you see the difference?

This is not my idea but comes from the book, Stop Organizing Start Producing, by Casey Moore. Here’s a link to a video she posted explaining it. Now, if the pineapple was already chopped and ready to eat, which do you think you would pick? The choices are now more equal and you can pick by preference. If the things on your “to do” list are simple, one step tasks, then they are more likely to get done (and it feels so good to cross things off, doesn’t it)? Now if your project was in bite sized pieces do you think you might be more inclined to work on it?

School projects often come with implicit directions and unless your teen is capable of breaking it down into individual steps…..or should I say unless your teen can actually see the project for the multiple steps it really is, then he or she will approach it as a banana when it is really a pineapple. Hence, the all night project marathons. Essays and studying for tests are also pineapples. Help your teen by explaining the difference between a task and a project – or better yet, send them the link to the video. http://youtu.be/OvzG5xmkKjw

Check your task list for pineapples and if you find any, reduce them into their chunks so they are much more easily digestible. If you are unsure how to do this or  would like some support, then join our 4 week Group Coaching Class starting Thursday, April 30th at 7p in Norwell.