Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. (1)
Generation Text Online supports 21st Century Learning Environments by coaching teachers on how to facilitate critical thinking in their classrooms. The responsibility of school districts is to produce students who are college and career ready and this means that students must have the skill set to think their way out of problems. The idea of a teacher providing a lecture to her students, requiring memorization of information and an assessing by exam or standardized test is a process that does not provide students with the ability to thrive at the higher education level or in a global workforce in the 21st Century. Through the Gen Text framework, educators are given strategies and techniques to facilitate class discussions where students can practice evaluating information, reflect and reason different ideas, apply principles and concepts and make decisions that best fit each situation.
Gen Text provides educators with 5 specific concepts that make up the foundation for successful relationships and positive, supportive and inspiring learning and work environments. Each concept is presented in a module that allows participants to build background knowledge and take part in exercises, habits and routines that encourage each learner to have their own experience with each concept. This experiential learning process allows for students to better understand how to apply the skills they learn in the classroom in a real life situation. Our professional learning, classroom coaching and our online resources demonstrate to teachers and facilitators how to encourage critical thinking by practicing and role playing situations that require observation, analyzation, synthesizing and applying both the concepts and their personal experiences. During our professional learning sessions, teachers are coached in how to use inquiry in order for students to develop ideas and deeper questions, and how to facilitate collaborative learning. The Gen Text approach encourages students to take ownership of their learning by providing opportunities to collaborate, discuss and challenge ideas.
Throughout the school year, students will face many challenges and adversity. Teachers and facilitators are trained to guide their students in the Eight Essential Questions to encourage students to use critical thinking skills when presented with real life obstacles and problems. With each new challenge students get better at utilizing this new way of thinking and this enables them to avoid falling into the trap of making decisions where all factors have not been considered and think their way out of each and every challenge and problem.