The goal of critical thinking skills related to graduate requirements began with a conversation. I will first explain the plan, then how we arrived at this end point.
Students entering the AAMF free ESL classes are exposed to three distinct levels of curriculum and instruction. The curriculum is provided by the Art of Learning. Each level has prescribed lessons and guidelines; however, facilitators are provided with additional time for creativity and innovation. The thought is to have 5 minute transition activities upon arrival to each session. These are commonly referred to "Do Nows" in the United States. Embedded in the curriculum will be a series of guidelines, enabling facilitators autonomy on topics. The first five days will reflect the 5 minute sessions and on the 6th day, the 30-40 minute discussion will take place. This session will culminate with formative assessment measured in rubric form. The information will be recorded in the LMS along with attendance, evaluations, other assessments, etc. The goal for level I students will be exposure them to complex problems with no single answer. The idea is that larger discussions about topics greater than oneself will contribute to language development. The culmination of level I will be evaluated in Point/Counter Point argument in the form of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. This will also be assessed using rubrics, and short responses.
Level 2 students will follow the same pattern; however, students will be exposed to more level 3 and level 4 depth of knowledge questions. The complexity and rigor of the questions, topics, and content will increase. The culmination of level two will e in the form of Point/Counter Point; however, this time the reading, writing, speaking, and listening portion will be measured on the opposite viewpoint of argument. In other words, students will need to demonstrate a clear understanding of the opposite view point of their own. So if I believe the sky is blue and you believe it is green, I will need to recognize and explain why the sky could in fact be green.
Level 3 will continue with the same pattern; however, the depth of knowledge questions, level of discussion, and expectation will dramatically increase in the classroom. The culmination will be in an actual defense. Students will have the following graduation requirement added to the current evaluation. Students will identify a problem in the community, research the multiple points of view, and systematically resolve the problem. In order to graduate, students will need to defend this position in front of a panel to be determined by the facilitator and compliance supervisor.
The next post will involve some of the research behind the practice associated with this initiative. Additional posts will discuss the creation of the post-graduate program.
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