“Technology & Teaching Tomorrow’s Thinkers” (An Article Review)

Follow the following link, http://thejournal.com/Articles/2010/06/02/Technology-Teaching-Tomorrows-Thinkers.aspx?Page=1,  to access the article for the following review.

I found this article particularly interesting because of its take on how students think and how teachers teach based on how students think. In the article, “Technology & Teaching Tomorrow’s Thinkers,” Ruth Reynard addresses how there is a different thought process for each type of content area and how not everyone knows how to think scientifically, historically, mathematically, etc. Students need to be taught to think like a scientist or historian. For each discipline there are specific methods for teaching how to think within that discipline and technology is a tool to aid in that teaching, rather than a replacement for the thinking. Reynard also addresses how technology provides students global platforms to share and collaborate their thoughts and ideas while learning new perceptions, which is also a tool to help change how students think about a specific discipline.

Reynard’s approach to this topic is interesting to me, because she challenged me to think about technology and student’s thought processes differently. I always assumed that if you are not a math person, then you will probably never grasp it. She really made me think about how to “teach” thinking within my own content area. This is a concept I have never visited, because I thought that how people think could not be changed. In addition, Reynard gave some great information on how to use technology to encourage students to stretch their thinking and challenge themselves to learn new things.

I believe that it is crucial for students and teachers to challenge themselves to think in new ways, especially if they have always believed that they couldn’t before. This is a fascinating topic and one I will be investigating further. I want to know how I can encourage my students to stretch their thinking. I also want to know how to approach teaching the thinking process within my content area, because it is hard for me to think about it when I already know how to think about it (clear as mud?). As an educator, I believe that this article and how I’m processing this article relate to the five core propositions as proposed by the NBPTS.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to ““Technology & Teaching Tomorrow’s Thinkers” (An Article Review)

  1. Skip

    Neat article and well-written review, Stephanie. You do a nice job of describing, analyzing, and reflecting on the information in the article. Have we helped you develop your “techy thinking?” 🙂

    • You have! You and Ross have shown me how to think about technology and how to teach it, rather than just how to use it. I think that is very important. Thank you for helping me stretch my learning! 🙂

  2. It’s certainly an interesting theory. Like you, I believe that it’s not possible to change people’s thinking. I know you can change people’s understanding, help them see something from a different perspective and point something out that they’re missing and why, but does that change people’s thinking skills or deductive reasoning and inference skills? Does reasoning and inference fall under the umbrella of thinking, to include critical thinking? Some clarification would be helpful.

    Perhaps what you might want to try, is choosing a content area that you’ve always had difficulty with – either understanding or testing, and see if you can apply this theory to yourself. I’m not sure what it’s going to take to change your thinking, but it would certainly validate the theory and help you better understand how it can be applied to your own content area.

    • I talked with someone about this yesterday and he felt it was possible to change someone’s thinking, but he had some caveats. What is the definition of thinking? Are we talking about academic or cognitive thinking? What is the end state state of the thought process? He did agree however, that changing someone’s thinking in an academic environment vice functional environment might be challenging.

      In some of his examples he gave, he said that two different people can look a the same data and given what each person’s job function is, each person can have something completely different to say about the data, because they don’t think about the data in the same way. I could see his point, but I wasn’t quite convinced that it had to do with thinking. I’m stubborn – LOL.

  3. Interesting. I have also been thinking about this a lot. I am not convinced that a person’s thinking can be changed. I believe that each person is wired to think about certain data in one way, but that way is most likely different than someone else’s way.

    For example: if you have a line and at one end is a person who completely understands math but not English… at the other end of the line is a person who completely understands English but not math. Somewhere between these two points is where everyone else’s thinking lies.

    Given that, I believe that everyone thinks about things differently, but it may be possible for the math person to teach the English person how to look at math differently so that it makes more sense. Ideally, teachers should teach their content with this in mind. Not all students think about each subject the same, each student has a different level of understanding, and if I know what tools I can provide to put everyone on a more even playing… then I should make sure I am providing those tools.

    Ahhh… the challenge however is determining what those tools are and which tools will work for what kids. If everyone thinks differently, then they will also think about the tools differently.

    Can I change the thinking of someone else? I don’t think so, at least I’m not convinced it has been proven. Can I change how well someone understands a previously understood idea? Yes. However, it is extremely difficult, and if I am not current with the research being conducted within my profession, and I do not assess correctly within my classroom, then I do not believe that I am helping my students.

    I just thought of a metaphor that seems appropriate. Two students, one short and one tall, come to the front of the class. You tell them that they will receive a prize if they can touch the top of the blackboard. Obviously, the tall one will be able to but the shorter won’t. Height cannot be changed, however, with the assistance of a step stool the shorter student will be able to reach the blackboard. The shorter student was provided tools that the taller student didn’t need, yet they were able to reach the same goal. Thinking is ‘height’ and the step stool represents the tools I provide…

    What do you think?

    • Let’s try this:

      You place 5 identical balls in front of a one year old child. Let’s say the child knows nothing about numbers or counting, but the child knows and understands the word ball. You then start to teach the child how to count, by saying a number as you point to each ball and then getting the child to point at the ball and say the number as well. Then you place five apples in front of the child and do the same thing, followed by oranges, bananas and grapes. You can safely assume that the child knows the name of each fruit.

      The question for you are:

      1. Have you taught the child to count or just mimic your behavior?

      From this point on, you tell the child nothing other than to count the objects.

      2. If you put one of each of the items in front of the child, will the child be able to count to five? What other things might the child do?

      3. If you put five identical objects in front of the child that the child doesn’t know the name of, will the child be able to count to five?

      4. If you put five dissimilar objects in front of the child that the child doesn’t know the name of, will the child be able to count to five?

      5. If you put six balls in front of the child, will the child stop at number six, look at you and expect you tell him what the number is for the sixth ball?

      6. If place the five balls in front of the child, have the child count balls and then remove the 3rd ball, will the child count 1-2-4-5 or will the child count 1-2-3-4-5?

      If the child understands the concept of counting and not just mimicking your behavior, you have now taught the child to “think” about objects in a completely different way.

      Now ask the child, “How many cookies do you want?” What do you think the child’s answer will be?

  4. Nice. I believe that the child will start out mimicking you but not actually understanding what is going on. The repetition of counting the objects and the words associated to the activity will trigger memories and prompt the child to act accordingly. I believe it is the activity the child is remembering, not the objects involved in the activity.

    Numbers 5 & 6 are very interesting. For number 5, I believe that the child will look to you when it reaches the 6th object, because that number was not ‘taught’ or stored in its memory, therefore, the child cannot recall a number it does not know. For number 6, I believe the child would count in order 1-2-3-4 and look to see where number 5 went.

    As to the cookies… I’m sure the answer will be all of them. lol… that child will have no clue how many all of them means, but it will know that all means a lot.

    So, I wonder… if you teach child A how to count objects as previously described and you teach child B something completely different (rather than count the objects you assign a noise, not a number)…

    1. Will you then be able to teach child A what you taught child B and vise versa?

    If so…

    2. Will either child revert back to their own original lessons, or will they each constantly reference their original memories and associate the new lesson to the old lesson.

    • We’ve proven that two people can think differently about the same experiment. I totally agree with your point of view and because you’ve pointed out some things that I didn’t even consider, I don’t quite look at the experiment the same way I did before.

      Given all the different ways that people “think”, different people would have different reactions to your response, both positive and negative. That’s another interesting study in thinking that has nothing to do with the content itself.

      The question of “how many” is a great addition to the experiment. Place two balls, three bananas, one apple in front of the child and then start asking the questions, “How many bananas do you have.. etc, etc.” Show how to count, change the number and type of objects, then ask again. Has the child learned to count now? If not, at what point/age does a child start to understand the concept of counting and why?

      Teaching child B farm animal noises would be funny. 1 = moo, 2 = arf arf, 3 = meow.. etc. It would definitely be fun experiment. You would definitely need a parental waiver for that one! lol

      • This has been an awesome discussion! Thank you so much. I have looked forward to hearing what your perspectives would be and stretching my own thinking. I wish I had more opportunities like this…

        The farm animal noises would be hilarious. I actually uploaded a child dev. video on my blog in which I am reading a book with my son and he is making the sounds for the appropriate animals. It’s pretty cute (and old). He said “doodle doo” for a rooster… so adorable! lol

        Thank you so much! (feel free to challenge me anytime)

      • Yes, this has been an awesome discussion. Thanks as well.

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