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EDUDEAF: Questioning for Higher Level Thinking

Key Words: Instructional Strategies, general info, k-12

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Subj: Thinking!
Date: 97-03-28 15:19:58 EST
From: CBRAN00@UKCC.UKY.EDU (Cathy Brandt)
Sender: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)
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HI folks,

Thought I'd share the following list of questions with you which I believe will lead kids to higher levels of thinking.

Source unknown - ditto distributed to teachers

Cathy

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Subj: Re: Thinking!
Date: 97-03-28 15:23:17 EST
From: meccariu@UNLINFO.UNL.EDU (Malinda Eccarius)
Sender: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)
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Neat list of questions, Cathy!

I would like to add another dimension--purpose for questions. I learned from a book by Hilda Taba (published by Addison Wesley in 1971 and probably out of print, but used for many "newer" theories), that not only the questions we ask but the order we ask them in and the purpose for which we ask them will influence whether children learn to think from answering them. She has sequences of questions for developing concepts, developing generalizations, identifying attitudes, feelings, and values, and applying generalizations. The questions build on each other to develop a particular thinking skill. I have used these sequences for teaching and diagnostic teaching for years, with considerable success, even where thinking was not expected by other teachers or parents.

Yet another dimension--what do we do when students don't understand the questions, and too much cognitive space is taken up by comprehending to allow enough for formulation of a meaningful response? There are a variety of prompt types which can, in themselves, develop thinking. They allow the student to get past the question comprehension problem and think about connecting what he or she knows about the topic to formulation of that knowledge into a comprehensible response. Intuitively, after years of use, these prompts have arranged themselves by level of difficulty,(for some children that sequence does not hold true, of course). For example, giving a multiple choice is usually easier than rephrasing the question, and an analogy is generally easier than a refocusing statement (e.g. "Listen to the question again.") The point of the prompt, of course, is to focus the child on the thinking task required by the question, not on the "language of the question." Don't get me started on the grouping of questions by first word rather than on the cognitive process required to answer them!!!

Happy Weekend. :)
Malinda Eccarius

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Subj: Re: Thinking!
Date: 97-03-28 16:51:26 EST
From: meccariu@UNLINFO.UNL.EDU (Malinda Eccarius)
Sender: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)
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To: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (Multiple recipients of list EDUDEAF)

Cathy,

Wow! What a quick turn around. It must be Spring Break!

The charts are in "A Teacher's Handbook to Elementary Social Studies: An Inductive Approach." by Taba, Durkin, Fraenkel and McNaughton.Addison Wesley, 1971 (2nd edition). I think it is out of print, but maybe a college library has it squirreled away somewhere. Of course, I do a lot of modifying.

>How do we guide kids to the thinking process if they don't understand the question?...>

Actually, I think we are thinking backwards. Students don't understand the questions until they understand the thinking process. Furth told us that nonverbal cognition develops normally in deaf children, and the WISC-R norming supports that finding (mean is actually 110 for the deaf population, as opposed to 100 for hearing). Then, all we do (smile) is clarify the concept nonverbally and then build the language in that context. I use visualizations for that, and I am NOT talking about semantic maps, but actual visuals of concepts, where the RELATIONSHIP rather than the information is clarified. A good visual will illustrate the same concept with any set of similarly related pieces of information. With the visual comes print, through the air language in the child's modality, and expressive application opportunties for the child. It is amazing how much less time it takes for a child to understand a question, an abstract relationship, or any other academic demand, when the discussion is based on the right visual, developed together and used as needed (then gradually removed).

Only my way of doing it. There are probably as many more as there are teachers.

Malinda

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Subj: Re: Thinking!
Date: 97-03-29 12:46:26 EST
From: meccariu@UNLINFO.UNL.EDU (Malinda Eccarius)
Sender: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)
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>Malinda, I am unable to visualize your visualizations . Can you post an example of one visualization...I am very visual example oriented. Jay >

Jay,

My drawing capabilities on the computer are very limited. However, I think I can give you a number of examples without drawing.

I would like to start with an analogy. In the long struggle to have ASL accepted by hearing linguists as a true language, one of the most telling arguments was that it evolved through use by the people who needed it, to be the most efficient form of communication for them. Its rules developed because they made motoric and linguistic sense, just as articulation and meaning rules in other languages developed. Now, analogous to that, over centuries, ways of visualizing ideas have evolved. Pictures are the obvious example, with aspects of pictures being emphasized depending on their purpose (the animals in cave paintings are more elaborate than the hunters, suggesting to archaeologists that those people were representing the spirits of the animals they hunted, rather than their own spirits). Some pictures simply remained pictures, and became artistic expression, very communicative and varied, but functionally artistic. Other pictures gradually became less and less iconic and more and more symbolic, and became print. A third group of pictures became highly organized, in ways that were functional for human vision and thinking patterns. In some cases, what remained in the end was the organizational pattern itself, and either pictures or print could be used within the pattern.

Now, of course these categories overlap, but I would like to concentrate on the third. Here are some examples which, in Northern European influenced culture, are almost universally accepted and recognized:

The timeline.

It can use pictures or print or any other symbols, but the left to right organization conveys the passage of time, sequence of events, cyclical nature of some temporal concepts (like life cycles), and appears in many textbooks, comic books and cartoons, even scrolling of images on some TV shows and computer programs.

The map.

Here, I mean the road map, the spatial layout of any physical environment upon which journeys, events in a story organized by setting, addition of elements to show physical change over time, or diagram of the internal workings of a machine or the human body. Movement over this visual during a discussion gives students constant opportunities to refocus and stay with the teacher, relieving their minds to concentrate on the language of spatial relationships and the information being conveyed about those relationships in this specific instance.

The matrix.

I always call these parallel comparison charts, where relationships of categorization, similarity or difference can be observed together and discussed through isolation of certain aspects without losing sight of the big picture.

Diagrams.

If used appropriately, basic visuals such as Venn Diagrams pinpoint very specific concepts and relationships. Sometimes I catch myself trying to force information into an inappropriate diagram, just for the sake of using it, but that leads, invariably, to confusion for the students.

Grouped Referents.

This is a little harder to explain, but I can give you a visual of it. Say I am working with a student on the Solar System. As we move through experiences, vocabulary pops up (usually content vocabulary) that will be needed in discussion again and again. Rather than simply creating a bulletin board of words, what I want to do is create an organized, print based referent that will help the students recall some of the characteristics and associations related to those lexical items (may be words or phrases, of course). So, the first few words go up:

As we talk, the planet Mars is introduced. "Let's add Mars to the bulletin board. Which group do you think it goes in? With Sun and Earth? Tell me why. Because it starts with a capital letter? You are right, it does, but other groups might get capital letters later. Why does Mars start with a capital letter? Because it is a place. Right. Okay, let's put it with Earth and Sun for now and see if we want to change anything later."

Sun might get moved to a star group, turning Earth and Mars into a core of "planets" and gas giant might go there, or stay and create a group of category names like "star" "moon" "asteroids" and "comets." It depends on the focus of the lesson. All of these elements can be multiply grouped, and by demonstrating that flexibility, and having students, with mediation, decide on the grouping and say why, puts the focus on the concepts. After a few teacher guided grouped referents, the students begin to do it themselves, and to answer questions no one would have believed possible.

I think Deaf educators need to pay attention to the instructional design specialists. As I study this area, I realize how often we confuse our students and slow down their learning by our use of visuals. I cringe to think of some of the things I have done, and when I think about it, those were usually the lessons that just didn't fly.

Hope this helps.

Malinda Eccarius

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Subj: Re: Thinking!
Date: 97-03-31 02:31:43 EST
From: bullard@LCLARK.EDU (Carolyn Bullard)
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Cathy--

A few years ago I decided to learn Spanish. When I went to Costa Rica and began to use my Spanish I began to understand why our deaf kids have so much trouble with questions. When I was in a conversation, I could participate fairly successfully until I was asked a question. At first I thought I was having difficulty because my mind just froze. I finally realized, though, that questions posed a different problem for me than when I was simply contributing to a topic. When you are speaking a language you only partially grasp, you can often catch enough of what's going on to contribute something meaningful to the conversation even if you don't know exactly what was said. The give and take of a normal conversation gives lots of opportunities to talk about a whole range of things and still be an appropriate conversation partner. However, when someone asks you a question, you must catch every single word. You must know what the question word is, the meaning of every single word, and their grammatical relationships with one another. This is a much tougher task than simply getting the gist of a conversation and then telling your own story. I came away from that experience with a much greater respect for the challenge that our kids are having as they are trying to learn English.

Carolyn Bullard

Uploaded by: BJ Lawrence/ Kent State University/ Deafed Major