Many teachers realize that engaged teaching and active learning are desirable. Teaching that encourages students to ask questions and look for answers, to apply what they have learned in order to solve problems, to listen to each other and debate ideas politely and constructively—this is teaching students can use in their lives. But knowing that these things are important is not the same thing as knowing how to make them work in the classroom with a crowded curriculum, short class periods, and many students.
The staff development program Teaching and Learning Strategies for the Thinking Classroom (The Thinking Classroom)came about to satisfy the need in the schools for deeper learning, life-long learning—learning that students can use and that makes them not only better students but more productive members of society. And it also came about in order to teach “the small ideas,” as one teacher called them. “The big ideas” are the lofty proclamations about how important active learning and critical thinking are. The “small ideas” are how to actually teach for active learning and critical thinking, in real classrooms.
The Thinking Classroom was inspired by the Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking Project (RWCT), and the present authors have long worked in that project. RWCT has worked with more than 40,000 teachers in 29 countries. The RWCT program was designed by Jeannie Steele, Charles Temple, Scott Walter, and Kurt Meredith, and was brought to life by 70 volunteer teacher-trainers from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Their numbers were multiplied tenfold by certified trainers in the 29 participating countries. The trainers were recruited and given administrative support by the International Reading Association. George Soros' Open Society Institute provided financial support, and the 29 Soros Foundation offices around the world gave the project a home. Quotations from teachers and students in the RWCT project are found throughout this book.
Trainers for the The Thinking Classroom program are available to go anywhere in the world.
For training activities in Europe and Central Asia, please contact the International RWCT Consortium, care of: Daiva Penkauskiene (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Maria Kovacs (email@example.com)
For training activities in other parts of the world, please contact: Critical Thinking International, Inc. (firstname.lastname@example.org)