Reflection: Discourse and Questioning Critical Thinking: "Tulipmania" - Section 3: Second Read: Craft and Structure


Teachers, me included, like to believe that if students are talking to each other about the text, it is student centered.  But it's not if the teacher has asked questions that he/she already knows the answer to.  Even if the kids are discussing answers, it's still teacher-centered.  Student centered is when the students are shaping the dialogue.  


The multiple choice questions that Pauk wrote, while effective and rigorous, aren't student-centered.  The big question for me was whether I wanted to teach a lesson that is student or teacher centered.  I want them to be student-centered.  I want my students to become independent readers, writers, and thinkers, and if my lessons are teacher-centered, I'm achieving that.   


But I revised these multiple choice questions!  I made them open-ended! So what?  It was difficult to face this, but multiple-choice questions aren't student-centered.   We do need to prepare students to take multiple choice questions due to state testing and common assessments, but I don't actually get excited about those lessons.  Neither do the students.


According to AUTHOR, "authentic questions are questions are questions for which you really don't know the answer."  Lessons can either be monologic or dialogic.  Monologic means teacher-centered.  The teacher knows the answers and expects the students to struggle with with the text to come up with the right answer.  The prefix mono means one.  One person is in charge of the discussion.  Compare that to dialogic.  The prefix dia means two.  Two people are in charge of the dialogue, and in a student-centered class, it's the students, not the teacher.


My questions are good.  What graph could the author have included to aid the reader's comprehension? What would motivate a family to buy a tulip bulb when it would cost the same as a year's worth of food.  But those are still monologic, teacher centered. 


What if, instead of me giving the students questions, the students come up with their own questions based on their quickwrites and discussion?  They might even come up with a question similar to the ones that I would come up with.  If the students and teacher come up with the same question is it still dialogic?  If a tree falls, but no one hears, does the universe explode?

  Monologic or Dialogic
  Discourse and Questioning: Monologic or Dialogic
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Critical Thinking: "Tulipmania"

Unit 5: Developing Critical Thinking with Shared Inquiry and Socratic Circles
Lesson 1 of 9

Objective: Students will be able to develop critical thinking skills by reading a passage about the history of tulips and answering types of critical thinking questions, citing evidence for their answers, and discussing answers with a small group.

Big Idea: Develop critical thinking skills through independent reading and authentic student discourse through six powerful types of questions.

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tulip from gail frederick
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