Research is part of the entire system. How do we incorporate various research into to the current structure? How will it successfully impact the current program and the future plans? What are the potential barriers?
We reviewed concepts related to backwards design. What are of the goals, and how will will measure it? We began by looking at what needed to occur by the conclusion of the one year program. Then we reviewed the three different levels. Finally, we began to look at the learning contract as mechanism to begin, benchmark, and evaluate.
We started by reviewing an article in the National Staff Development Council. In the winter of 2008 v29 n1 an article was written Asking the Right Questions: Teachers' can build students' English language skills by Jane D. Hill and Kathleen Flynn. The most powerful portion of the article was in the chart labeled Bloom's Taxonomy across language acquisition. It demonstrates the ability of teachers to challenge students at every level regards of the language barrier. This was important because we wanted the ability to challenge students at all three levels of the program through critical thinking and problem solving. The article helped to change our thinking and shaped the ongoing conversation.
Next, we reviewed several TED Talks including Simon Sinek - How Great Leaders Inspire, and Sir Kenneth Robinson - Changing Education Paradigms. These helped us shape how to create facilitator (teacher) friendly environments. If we are going to create a positive atmosphere for this new concept, we will need to be sure the facilitators are in agreement. Some of the information from each TED Talk enabled us to share ideas on how to bring the facilitator groups to a level of comfort with the idea.
Finally, several books also contributed to the rich conversations on how to restructure the organization to support critical thinking skills. I will list them here;
Developing Minds: A Resource Book for Teaching Thinking edited by Arthur L. Costa
The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley
Habits of the Mind edited by Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
Each had a vital role in our conversations, which allowed us to critically analyze the design of the program. Most importantly, it enabled us to articulate why!