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3 Complex Thinking

James A. Bellanca Solution Tree Press ePub

The concept of complex thinking is complex in itself. Complexity involves the sophistication of the language used, including word choice and sentence structure, as well as the level of discipline-based concepts. With complex thinking, the student is expected to not only read with literal clarity but also to interpret what is implied. Complex thinking requires skill in determining the author’s perspective and purpose, the inherent bias, the nuance of tone and tenor, and the real meaning of the words on the page as crafted by the author, with intended or unintended persuasion. Complex thinking can be seen as the ability to cut through the abstract ideas presented in order to discern them in concrete ways. It helps the student grasp the underlying meaning of the concept.

All too often, texts are complex in vocabulary and concepts, and students with little background knowledge are lost before they begin the comprehension process. When narrative or informational texts combine discipline-specific vocabulary, sophistication in structure, subtle tonality, dense meaning, and intentional nuance, they can create frustrating barriers to student understanding.

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Chapter 2 What Does It Take? A Teacher’s View on 21st Century Effectiveness

James A Bellanca Solution Tree Press ePub

James M. Bentley

An earlier version of the content in this chapter introduction appears in Bentley (2012).

“I think she hung up on me.”

Ten-year-old Eddie held a phone in one hand and a note card in the other. A small team of fifth graders had just phoned our state assembly member’s office to invite him to our class to discuss Assembly Bill 1802 (AB1802). The class hoped to amend the law as part of its efforts with a Common Core–aligned, project-based civic education curriculum called Project Citizen (see www.civiced.org/programs/project-citizen). My students had written a script. They’d rehearsed it. Eddie had been selected to make the call.

Smiling, I reassured the group a legislative staffer or secretary would not hang up on a constituent. I redialed. A woman answered. I introduced myself as the teacher of the student who had just called. The secretary immediately apologized to me. She had hung up. Her reason: it sounded like a child who had been reading from a script. She agreed to hear him out this time. I handed the phone to Eddie, who then finished the call.

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Chapter 2 The Shift in Implementation: Sustaining Professional Learning

James A. Bellanca Solution Tree Press ePub


The Shift in Implementation

Sustaining Professional Learning

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

—John F. Kennedy

There is an expression in the men’s clothing business: “The most expensive suit a man can buy is the suit that he only wears once.” Extrapolating from that idea, you can say, “The most expensive staff development is that which teachers do not transfer to their classrooms.” With that metaphor in mind, school leaders working with the Common Core are mindful of the value of sound professional learning opportunities that have long-lasting impact on instruction. They can shape those professional experiences with elements and conditions that maximize transfer from the classroom.

The success of professional learning can only be determined by measuring the implementation of strategies, incorporation of concepts, and changes in attitudes that teachers are able to transfer from the staffroom to the classroom.

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Chapter 6 Stopping to Think: A Lifetime of Learning to Learn

James A Bellanca Solution Tree Press ePub

Louis H. Falik and Refael S. Feuerstein

Educators have watched the debate over thinking and its infusion into classroom instruction for a long time. From Sophocles to the authors of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), different sides have contested the best ways and means for enriching student thinking and problem solving. They have long contemplated the proper balance between content-centered curricula and the cognitive curriculum. The movement toward adoption of the CCSS, which is politically contentious, is a response to this, and somewhat of an antidote to the emphasis on testing and many of what we consider the pedagogical negatives of the No Child Left Behind movement. This intellectual wrestling has not served the interest of U.S. students nor enlightened educators in other countries, such as Japan, Singapore, and Germany, who are also struggling with how to ensure their students will be able to respond to our rapidly changing technological world in which critical thinking and problem solving are much needed.

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Chapter 9 Cooperative Learning and Conflict Resolution: Essential 21st Century Skills

James A Bellanca Solution Tree Press ePub


When preparing to live in the tumultuous 21st century, it is essential that students learn how to function effectively in cooperative efforts and resolve conflicts constructively. Intentionally facilitating and teaching the skills of cooperation and constructive conflict resolution will raise the quality of collaboration students experience and deepen their learning, not only in face-to-face interactions in school, but also in their online relationships.

This chapter discusses four important challenges of the 21st century and how cooperation and constructively managed conflicts (constructive controversy and integrative negotiations) are at the heart of meeting these challenges.

The 21st century brings four important challenges in which cooperation and constructive conflict resolution play a central role: (1) a rapidly increasing global interdependence that will result in increasing local diversity as well as more frequent and intense conflicts, (2) the increasing number of democracies throughout the world, (3) the need for creative entrepreneurs, and (4) the growing importance of interpersonal relationships that affect the development of personal identity. The tools for meeting these challenges include cooperative learning, constructive controversy, and problem-solving (integrative) negotiations.

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