We know that, as educators at the British Vietnamese International School, we are preparing students for an unknown future. Consider how much has changed even in the past half-century. The proliferation of technology in our everyday lives has drastically changed how we function in society.
While all educators want to help students be successful in the future, the world is shrinking quickly, and our society is becoming more global in nature. Reading, writing, mathematics and knowledge of the other core subject areas will remain an important component of each person's education. But in what have often been termed "the four C's" — critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity — we see increasingly important skills for all students. Teaching these skills effectively in the classroom has been a topic of discussion among educators for years.
More recently, the discussion has included teaching these skills effectively to English learners, who, while learning the content being presented along with these important skills, also have the challenge of learning English. The skills of critical thinking and problem identification/solving include using knowledge, facts and data to solve those problems. When applying critical thinking to problem identification/solving, students must be able to make appropriate decisions and judgments using what they have learned or read, use inductive and deductive reasoning as appropriate to the situation, and analyze complex systems and determine how parts of a whole interact with each other.
The ability to think critically is not dictated by an ability to speak any given language. While this statement is obvious, teaching students to think critically and articulate their thoughts in a language they do not speak well is a challenge.
Most educators understand the importance of incorporating higher-order thinking skills into their instruction. This is where the brain really gets stretched and developed in its capacity.
Besides developing higher-order thinking and problem-solving questions and activities, teachers must consider the language that will need to be explicitly taught and shared so that English learners can be successful on the task. Many teachers are aware that some adjustments to questions may need to be made based on the proficiency levels of the students they are working with. In order to incorporate higher-order thinking questions and activities, preplanning is essential. All teachers plan both content and language objectives into their lesson planning. Along with other EAL strategies, this is proving of invaluable worth in the success of our school educational mission. It is also this principle that underpins our approach to project based learning and to our extra-curricular programmes.
Have an excellent weekend.
Mr. Mark Sayer - Principal