Higher Order Thinking Skills (Part #4 Workshop Preparation)

"Many activities and play participation will give you a training that will prove invaluable later on in life." - Walter Annenberg 

Assume we are about to do a workshop at a local district on using iPads to engage students in higher order thinking. Our challenge is to simulate the classroom experience in a single session. We want participants to be excited when they return to their classrooms. The key to success lies in preparation.

Let's begin by selecting some timely topics for the teachers to work on. Hopefully we can come up with a short list of engaging topics without inciting a riot.

How is this?

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  1. School security.
  2. BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices).
  3. Right to work laws.
  4. Tax reform.
  5. Voting: Participation vs. Fraud.
  6. Diabetes prevention.
  7. Digital vs. print books.
  8. Gun control.
  9. Stand Your Ground or Castle laws.
  10. Immigration reform.
  11. Universal healthcare.
  12. Social Security: Should it be privatized?

These topics ought to engage our group of teachers but we want to be sure they have a chance of finding good source material on the World Wide Web. So, let's do a Google search to see how many hits we get on each one. The following list each topic and the number of corresponding News hits.

  1. School security - 15,900,000.
  2. BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) - 26,000.
  3. Right to work laws - 2,930,000.
  4. Tax reform - 134,000.
  5. Voting: Participation vs. Fraud - 13,300.
  6. Diabetes prevention - 12,100.
  7. Digital vs. print books - 6,350,000.
  8. Gun control - 74,500,000.
  9. Stand Your Ground or Castle laws - 3,870.
  10. Immigration reform - 37,300.
  11. Universal healthcare - 7,300.
  12. Social Security: Should it be privatized? - 4,870.

So, now we know each of our draft topics has plenty of hits on the web. We can be assured that our participants will be able to find source material for their projects.

The next step is to pass the list past management for their approval. It is the polite thing to do and we do wish to be invited back. Let's use Mail to send our list for approval. Meanwhile we have some other decisions to make.

Our group will consist of about 30 secondary teachers and each has their own iPad. Youtube is blocked for the students so we should avoid using it during the workshop. The teachers need to understand the limitations the students are asked to work under.

Because time is limited so we also need to structure the projects more tightly than usual to give participants a fiar chance completing them. The software used should be something already at their disposal. That's another question for our contact person!

We will also want to take a look at the room we will be working in. How is is equipped? Wifi? Apple TV? Ambient lighting? Seating capacity?

We also need to provide structured time for data gathering, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. How much time should be give each?

The latter is important as we will be assigning participants to with in teams. This is another point of discussion for our contact. Are their any group dynamics within the faculty we ought to be aware of in the selection process or can we be reasonably comfortable with some form of random selection?

These are all things we consider when working with our own students but we have more time to learn, observe, and react to the classroom dynamics then. Somehow they all seem more acute when you drop in to do a workshop.

You might suspect that I'm doing a little "thinking out loud" with this entry for an upcoming project and you would be correct. I will be meeting my contact person with a few days and I'll update anyone interested. Meanwhile send me your questions and comments, especially if you think of anything I may have overlooked?

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Dr. Winegar is available to help your organization wisely use technology. Email him directly at mark.winegar@mac.com or visit www.facebook.com/MobileLearningStudio.