On Thursday, Sept 26, all the teachers at Newbridge Academy were fortunate to have the opportunity to spend a day with literary expert Adrienne Gear, who lead our teachers in a workshop to help build what can be called thinking classrooms. We are grateful to our friends at Pythagoras Academy in Richmond who hosted the event.
The internet has made finding facts and doing calculations accessible to everyone. With BC’s new curriculum, there is a greater emphasis on the kinds of skills that people need to have now and in the future. While knowledge and skills are still fundamental, the expectations are that children will be able to think critically and reflectively, and be compassionate, responsible and caring citizens.
Adrienne Gear was an amazing presenter. She was so passionate yet approachable and practical. She is a teacher that just wanted to do more, and then wanted to share what she learned. At our workshop, she showed teachers effective ways from her book Powerful Understanding to build social emotional skills and help students make connections, question what they read, and transform their thinking as they develop into stronger readers and learners. This day was a starting point to help us integrate strategic and critical thinking to deepen student understanding.
Teachers were introduced to a model to use for exploring, interacting with, and reflecting on everything they teach—from social responsibility, to immigration, to life cycles. This workshop was filled with practical lessons, extensive book lists, and student samples. Teachers were shown remarkable tools to help students think more deeply, learn more widely, and develop a more powerful understanding of what it means to be a responsible and compassionate person.
Adrienne Gear presented book lists to use to connect content and stories across different subjects. For example, when learning about the history of BC, the class reads stories from those times and places. By reading engaging stories, and asking meaningful questions, students make deeper connections. The books are specifically chosen to help teach and practice each of the five Reading Powers: connect, question, visualize, infer and transform. These books are used for modeling, guiding and supporting students, enabling them to successfully focus on the strategy and acquire a deeper understanding of their thinking.
On Friday, Sept 27, teachers returned to school to reflect on what they had learned at the workshop, and how they can incorporate these ideas into their lessons. Teachers want to use more thinking strategies that get students to wonder about what they are learning, and even how they are learning. The goal for teachers to keep the Big Idea in mind by getting students to reflect on what they are thinking about now that they didn’t think before.Teachers are going to read more books in the classroom and read aloud to students every day. They are going to get students to go beyond knowing something to why it matters. As our year continues, teachers will share their strategies and successes as we continue to build a strong learning community.