PRINCIPLES OF ACTIVE LEARNING
AND CRITICAL THINKING
Many teachers are seeking to change their practices to support reading and writing for critical thinking. They want to challenge their students not just to memorize, but to question, examine, create, solve, interpret, and debate the material in their courses. Such teaching is now widely recognized as “best practice.” Studies show that active classes, so long as they are purposeful and well organized, are often the ones in which students learn the material most fully and usefully. Learning fully and usefully means that students can think about what they learn, apply it in real situations or toward further learning, and can continue to learn independently (Gardner 1993; Marzano 2001). Learning that can be used, learning that lasts is a far better investment of the teacher's time and the community's funds than learning that leaves students passive, that tires the teacher with its routine, and that is soon forgotten because it is not practiced or built upon.
My students have become more able to freely express themselves, to speak their
thoughts. They also have become more attentive listeners to each other. They
actively get involved in the creative process of knowledge building.
(Primary grade teacher from Armenia)
This guidebook is dedicated to the practice of lively teaching that results in reading and writing for critical thinking. It demonstrates and explains a well organized set of strategies for teaching that invites and supports learning. At the same time the guidebook presents a large set of teaching practices, it helps you, the reader, form judgments about teaching and learning so that you can use the right practices with the students you have, in the subject or subjects you teach.
This book will present strategies for teaching and learning that can be used from upper primary school right through secondary school. The approaches can be used with all subjects in the curriculum, including the study of crosscutting issues (important contemporary problems that do not easily fit into any one discipline).