NOTE: This is not about language acquisition, there is input involved here, but the focus of this post is to draw attention to getting students to use what we are doing in class to think critically.
I’ve been thinking critically about critical thinking.
Producing ouptut AT ALL, in my opinion, is critical thinking and requires so many steps from processing input, making connections, thinking about how you want to answer (probably in the L1) and then coming up with the language in the L2.
If that’s not enough, then we also have WHY and HOW questions which can inspire critical thinking. If it’s a WHY question, you have to process the question, process the information you already have, think about prior knowledge, and then think about how to answer and then put that language out into the world. Same with HOW questions.
Then we’ve got comparisons of culture, which is what Interculture is all about which allows for critical thinking in English. In ACTFL’s Intercultural Reflection Tool they state that “Deep reflection normally occurs in one’s native language”. They even suggest maybe having students do the reflection outside of class.
The time we have in class is precious. We need to give students as much comprehensible input as possible to build mental representation and lead them towards acquisition. So any activity that does not provide input should not take up (too much) class time. So I think that having critical thinking activities as homework is a sweet spot. Students get input in class, and critically think about the information from the input outside of class.
Here’s my plan: I am going to use Martina Bex and Maris Hawkins’ collaboration project: El mundo en tus manos to get some critical thinking going. We will read the articles together in class and discuss them then students are going to have some homework. I am thinking it could be individual, or a group discussion on our Canvas page.
Here are questions that I might give to students for any given issue of EMETM:
I am MOSTLY taking these from Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
- Summarize the articles in SPANISH.
- Choose 3-5 quotes from the issue and explain in ENGLISH why you think they are important. (Discussion option: Post your quotes, other students discuss WHY you chose those).
- Choose the article that you think has the biggest impact on the world, explain. (This could also lead to good discussion)
- Choose the article that you think is the least newsworthy, explain.
- Create a TChart with important info on one side, and on the other information that you think could be missing from the article.
- In Spanish OR English, re-write the title of the articles.
- Create an action plan on how you can get involved with one of the events discussed in the issue.
I would do these activities out of class as homework so that we don’t take away from the opportunity for input IN class. The time we have in class is limited so we need to make it input heavy, and while I don’t think this is a valuable use of class time, I think it is valuable for students.