Case Studies Posts

The Critical Thinking Consortium’s Webinar: 5 Powerful Learning Opportunities Using WorldVuze in YOUR Class!

This October, The Critical Thinking Consortium’s (TC2) Dr. Garfield Gini-Newman facilitated a 1-hour interactive webinar “5 Powerful Learning Opportunities using WorldVuze in YOUR class!”, highlighting critical thinking opportunities when using WorldVuze in the K-12 classroom.

You can watch the full webinar recording here:

Webinar Highlights
In this webinar, Professor Gini-Newman explores the following themes:

  • How does technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge intersect?
  • What should be the defining characteristics of the 21st century classroom?
  • When can critical thinking be integrated in the classroom?
  • How can inquiry be used as a stance to support thinking classrooms?
  • What is the difference between student engagement and student empowerment?
  • How can you help your students gauge the quality of information they are receiving?
  • How does the student learning experience change when taught from a “knowledge hierarchy” versus a “knowledge network” stance?
  • How can you and your class identify and create questions that invite critical thinking?

A Peak Inside the Webinar
Professor Gini-Newman offers strategies for fostering thinking classrooms that can be integrated while using WorldVuze with your class. Here’s some strategies you can learn in the webinar:

The Baloney Meter
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Attributes of a Critical Thinking Question

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Wheel of Qualifiers (Turning questions into “critical thinking” questions)
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We want to thank the Critical Thinking Consortium for sharing these powerful strategies with the WorldVuze community and invite educators to share ideas for future webinars by emailing us at info@worldvuze.com.

About The Critical Thinking Consortium
The Critical Thinking Consortium supports many thousands of educators through a range of face-to-face, online and print resources and services developed around a classroom-proven approach to embedding critical thinking. TC2’s aim is to help students learn to think and think to learn.

Miss Murray’s Class “Talks” the Better than Before Challenge!

When compared to 31 of the world’s wealthiest countries, Canada’s children are among the least satisfied with their lives, ranking 25th according to UNICEF’s Report Card 13: Fairness for Children. Canadian child and youth well-being is on the decline.

“UNICEF Canada is committed to implementing the rights contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and that includes children’s right to be heard. We need to hear from young people to really understand their concerns and their thoughts on how to make Canada a better place for them”, says UNICEF Canada Policy Officer, Stacia Sahi.

watch miss murray's classWe joined Miss Murray’s Grade 8 class at Crescent School last week, who shared their thoughts on UNICEF Canada’s Better than Before Challenge and how classrooms across the country can join from now until the end of May 2016.

K-12 teachers can sign their class up for free on WorldVuze where their students can safely engage in this and other discussions with students across Canada and around the world.

UNICEF QuestionsBy sharing their perspectives on the 5 Better Before Challenge questions on WorldVuze (tagged UNICEF2016), students can share what is important to their well-being and how they think Canada can be a better place for children and youth to live. This is a chance for students to use their voice to make a real-world impact and help advocate for change to improve well-being for children and youth in Canada.

Learn how your class can join the Better than Before Challenge this May 2016 and share the challenge with two other classrooms you know to engage in this exciting dialogue!

Watch in 3 Minutes How a Student Can Explore Global Perspectives Through Her Own Inquiry

Grade 7 student, Carly, shares how WorldVuze works from a student perspective and tells a story of how she used it as a tool to explore first-hand perspectives on a topic she was curious about. Watch as Carly independently walks through the process of inquiry from beginning to end, driven by her own interests.

Learn How One Class is Using WorldVuze in 3 Minutes!

We joined teacher librarian, Jean Rehder, from Nelson Mandela Public School in Toronto, Canada who shared with us how she is using WorldVuze with classes at her school to inspire powerful student-driven dialogue. Check out this quick 3 minute video to learn some tips for integrating global perspectives into your curriculum.

Student Corner – A Grade 6 Student Explores Governance

Student Corner – A Grade 6 Student Explores Governance

The most important part of the WorldVuze experience is hearing what students have to say. Learn from the experience of a Grade 6 student, Carly, in her own words as she independently explores governance on WorldVuze:


“Every few days I check WorldVuze. My favourite things to do on the site are reading the answers from kids from different countries. Especially, if the question is about something [from] there own country. For example, I was looking at other peoples answers to the question “Do you think the government in your country is trustworthy?”. I have been told Mexico does not have a great government. So, I was wondering if the children of Mexico felt this way.

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 6.29.39 PMHalf of the answer chart said “not at all”, one quarter said “sometimes”, and one quarter said “most the time”. I found this very interesting. Than I decided to look at what kids in other countries were saying. The responses from others were all so interesting.

Something that stood out to me was the answers from other students in Canada. I thought everyone felt our government was doing a great job. Turns out, Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 6.31.53 PMnot everyone feels this way. 3 out of 24 said the our government was not at all trustworthy. 2 out of 24 said sometimes. 9 out of 24 said most the time. 5 out of 24 said yes. The rest were not sure. This was super interesting to me. It made me more aware of the perspectives of Canadians on the Canadian government.”

Classrooms, submit your explorations and discoveries on WorldVuze for the next “student corner” by emailing Julia at julia@worldvuze.com!

Turn the news into a conversation and engage in a “diversity of thought”

An article in the Guardian today “Why does diversity in the media sector matter?” discussed the importance of diversity in forming and reporting on the news, bringing together news agencies from the BBC, the Guardian, GNM, and Knight-Mozilla. They note that diversity goes beyond looking or sounding different, but involves many factors coming together (age, background, life experiences, peers) that influence the “diversity of thought”.

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 9.16.29 AMOn WorldVuze classrooms have the opportunity to ask questions that matter to them. Sometimes these questions are formed from a book you are reading or a discussion that has stemmed from the unit you are working on in class. Another way you can engage your students in meaningful dialogue on important local and global issues is by using the news as a starting point.

Take this article about the loss of a Northern white rhino at the San Diego zoo, leaving only 5 remaining members of the subspecies in the world. This is an opportunity for your class to engage in the inquiry process and think of a wide array of questions. Some questions may be:

  • What role do you think zoos should play in conserving wildlife?
  • What do you think is the responsibility of the “average person” to protect endangered or threatened species?
  • What support do you think conservationists need to truly protect endangered species, such as the Northern white rhino?

The process of developing a good question that can inspire a meaningful and engaging discussion can be challenging, but is one of the most important parts of this learning process. Set criteria with your class about what a “good question” looks like for WorldVuze (one important criteria you should strongly consider is that the question seeks opinion or perspective, not fact).

The value of being exposed to a diversity of perspectives is immense. It is central to developing fundamental 21st century competencies such as critical thinking and collaboration. It helps break down barriers and stereotypes by going beyond any one isolated point of view representing a place, such as a country or a city. By exploring multiple points of view on a regular basis, it not only creates an opportunity to consider new perspectives and ways of thinking, but can also alter our perception of each other.

Diversity helps to inspire innovation and creativity. In fact, in the September 2014 issue of Scientific American focused on Diversity from a scientific perspective in a series of articles. One article, by Fred Guterl, “Diversity in Science: Why it is Essential for Excellence” found that diversity relates to the quality and effectiveness of teams as it makes us address our unconscious biases and tends to make people prepare and critically analyze their own point of view more thoroughly as a result. The article goes on to share the gravity of being exposed to a diversity of thought in saying: “Scientists pride themselves on their objectivity, but personal experience and point of view have a lot to do with what questions get asked in the first place and how researchers go about answering them. The people in science and engineering are driving the world’s most vital engine of prosperity and new ideas. Who are they?”.

If you take this concept beyond science and apply this phenomenon to all fields (i.e. environmental management, international development, city planning, etc.), you can only imagine the potential impact it can have on how we may solve all of our most pressing problems.

Quick Tip – Finding Patterns in Answers on WorldVuze

We have created WorldVuze to present information in a way that will allow you and your students to easily sort and find patterns in answers to questions and dig deeper to understand why they and their peers are thinking the way they do.

Take a question asked by a Grade 5 class from the International School of Geneva in Geneva, Switzerland: Do you think animal testing should be allowed? So far, 44 students from 4 countries have answered this question. There are many ways your students can sort through these answers.

1) Students can examine a pie chart of the answers

2) Students can filter the answers by how students have answered the question. For example, first by looking at the answers of students who said “yes” (choice a); then looking at the answers of students who said “no” (choice b); and so on.

Sample question: What were some common reasons cited by students when students answered “yes”? How about “no”?

3) Then students can further filter answers by country, region, age, gender, and time. For example, you may want your students to compare answers between the “United States” and “Sweden”, or from students in one province of Canada “Ontario” to another “Saskatchewan”. Students can also use the pie chart, which adjusts to the filters they have set, to quickly capture a visual comparison.

Sample question: What are the similarities and differences between answers coming from students in Sweden compared to the United States?

Additional Questions you may want to add:

Statistics
You can ask your students questions about the quality of the information they are receiving. How many answers will you need to find a real pattern?

Reflection
You can ask students to reflect on the answers they read and examine whether any of the answers had changed the way they are thinking about the topic or the way they thought other students would have responded. This is what we call a “mindshift”. They can then share their mindshifts, if they have had any, on the question page itself!

There are so many examples of classroom lessons that we will continue to share, but we also want to hear from you! What are some creative ways that you are using WorldVuze in your class?

Uncovering Assumptions

Last spring we joined Nelson Mandela Public School in Toronto, Canada on a class visit and were able to witness an exercise in students uncovering stereotypes before our very eyes. The class had previously been investigating the topics of “child labour” and “racism” and wanted to extend their learning by understanding how other students in different countries thought about these topics.

Before they looked at the answers from other students, these Grade 6 students were asked to “predict” what they thought students from different countries who had answered the question had said. How did what students from different countries say either confirm or disprove their assumptions? Keeping in mind the limited number of answers contributed in our pilot (of 600).

This investigation led to a deep discussion. Students had come into the experience with an understanding that others can form “stereotypes” of them, but were beginning to uncover their own assumptions about the world and ask questions about their “mental models” of others.

This exercise in uncovering assumptions can be repeated with your own class questions and when delving into questions posted by others that interest your class!