Many of our staff indicated they would like to see us work on higher level thinking next year. I was thinking of this when I got to Routman's comments (p. 125) on examining written responses to reading. She noted the following:
For example, research shows that when students answer teacher-originated short-answer questions, they quickly look for the needed information and copy it, with little thought or reflection. Basically, such exercises (which we have to read and assess) are not a good use of our time or the children's.
She goes on to advocate writing that enhances the reading. Here's how she puts it:
What we're after is a written response that deepens comprehension, causes the writer to reflect on the content, and/or fosters appreciation for the text. When children have to think about their response, meaning is likely to be extended . And be sure that before you ask students to explain, summarize, compare, evaluate, draw conclusions - all valuable activities- you first demonstrate and give adequate guided practice.
Well, there it is in a nutshell. We just need to clearly model that higher level thinking, provide guided practice, then actually give assignments that require students to do more than regurgitate information. Who needs staff development? Follow these three easy steps and your students will be out-thinking Stephen Hawking. :)