College Ready

Sharing strategies for student success, college readiness and academic coaching


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Remain Curious. Never Stop Questioning.

Never stop questioning. Think for yourself. Remain ever curious.

Advice from Einstein, to every scholar, and by scholar, I mean every one of us:

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How to be a Scholar. 6 Steps to Encourage Critical Thinking

As promised, encore presentations of some of our most popular posts. This post “How to be a Scholar. 6 Steps to Encourage Critical Thinking.” is a reader’s favorite over on our Pinterest page, where it has been “repinned” many times. I like the visual appeal of the infographic and will once again use it this Fall in my Freshman Composition classes. The #1 most important skill for any college student in any discipline or major, is critical thinking.
Always Question! xo~Lisa, aka “The Happy Teacher” 🙂

Psst: Yep, we’re on Pinterest. We feature high quality, visually appealing content for teachers from K-12 to College, including free resources ready to print and use in the classroom. Check out our boards and if you do, leave a comment so we can say Hello!

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As we get to the end of the semester and school year, we are expecting our students to demonstrate higher order thinking skills, or Critical Thinking. I like this infographic from Learning Commons at the University of British Columbia.

Critical Thinking ToolkitThanks to its simple flow chart style, students can use it to clearly reflect on their own thinking. Students need to constantly question their own process, and those of others. They need to ask questions about the text they read, test possibilities, and allow for new discoveries.

Higher order thinking skills (HOTS) push our students beyond simple responses and elevate them to scholars and critics in their own right. Part of what’s vital in education is for students to learn to trust their own voice, while still questioning their thinking. What strategies do you use in your classroom to encourage critical thinking?

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Exploring the Idea of Happiness as Part of School Work

Luca Nisalli

I’ve been exploring the science of Happy and happiness research for the past two years in my college composition classrooms. We look at the work of various psychologists and psychiatrists, (like Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar and Professor Dan Gilbert, both of Harvard) who are writing and teaching on the science of happiness.

This article from PBS Mind/Shift, “Exploring the Idea of Happiness as Part of School Work,” discusses what that looks like in the classroom, and why “happy matters.” I agree wholeheartedly. After all, the brain on positive is 31% more productive than at negative, neutral, or stressed.


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How to be a Scholar. 6 Steps to Encourage Critical Thinking

As we get to the end of the semester and school year, we are expecting our students to demonstrate higher order thinking skills, or Critical Thinking. I like this infographic from Learning Commons at the University of British Columbia.

Critical Thinking Toolkit

Thanks to its simple flow chart style, students can use it to clearly reflect on their own thinking. Students need to constantly question their own process, and those of others. They need to ask questions about the text they read, test possibilities, and allow for new discoveries.

Higher order thinking skills (HOTS) push our students beyond simple responses and elevate them to scholars and critics in their own right. Part of what’s vital in education is for students to learn to trust their own voice, while still questioning their thinking. What strategies do you use in your classroom to encourage critical thinking?

 


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At Semester’s End: Closing Thoughts from an English Prof

Keep Moving Forward.

As a college instructor, beginnings and endings are an integral part of my life. Each semester, I meet a new group of students, in each of my classes, and we get to know each other. We connect and we learn each others’ stories, if you will. 18 weeks later, we part ways, having shared the classroom experience. Although I occasionally have a student for another semester, for the most part I won’t see many of them again. Our time together is brief but significant.

I believe that the way you begin a semester is absolutely critical. From day 1, you’re teaching and you’re leading and you’re setting the tone. But on the flip side of that, I believe that endings are equally crucial. One part of their journey may be over, a class checked off a list of requirements, but the next steps are still to be taken, and the finish line of graduation, still a long way off. By ending on the right tone, you set your students up for taking that next step. You set them up to keep moving forward.

For a sense of closure and to mark the end of the semester, I always have a class party, in the form of a potluck and a mega-trivia challenge, based on the course content. These are celebrations of all the hard work, critical thinking, sharing of ideas and ok, blood, sweat and tears, that students have put into their writing and learning for those 18 weeks. These parties are so much fun. Students bring in all sorts of amazing delicacies, and this semester, one of my students even brought in homemade tamales-cooked by none other than his abuela–for the entire class. Another student made 2 different types of cake pops, while another did a homemade pie…we are never lacking sweet treats at these shindigs! Far more important than the food though, these gestures show the students that they have meant something to each other, and the connections made have been important.

I also write a “Final Thought” blog post, to reflect on the semester and wish my students well as they continue on their path towards their academic goals. I specifically tell them “Don’t ever give up.” Students do need to hear that message, early and often, during their college careers. So much of student success comes from resilience, grit, and a belief that it is possible. As instructors, we are teachers. But, we are also role models, mentors and messengers, and when we believe in them, students start to have a stronger belief in themselves. Here’s this year’s post, called On Endings, Broad Margins, and Moving Forward.

How about you? What do you do to mark the end of a semester or school year? Do you have certain traditions or rituals that help you to wind down, say goodbye, and move ahead in a positive way? I’d love to hear from you.

All the best for a restful Winter Break~

Lisa xo


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Keep it REAL–4 Easy Steps to Determine Source Credibility

The problem: Not all sources are created equal.

The solution: Keep it REAL–4 Easy Steps to credible & authentic source material.

When it comes time to do research, most of us (not *just our students),  reach for our phones and just “Google it.”

Yet, when it comes time to incorporate source content into their writing, we want students to go beyond that one easy step. Our students have an enormous amount of  information at their fingertips. And therein lies the difficulty. They literally carry around so much data in their smartphones, it’s enough to make a grad student’s head spin, let alone a frosh college student, or the high school set.

As we know though, all internet sources are NOT created equal. From paid links, to content farms and the like–what steps can students-and the rest of us–take to analyze a source for credibility? By using this handy chart with the mnemonic REAL , they will be able to sort through a lot of the “junk” that’s available and find a nugget of REAL, and credible information.

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The four quick and easy steps are: Read the URL. Examine Content. Ask about the Author. Look at the Links.

Use an in-class discussion to educate students on the importance of each of these four categories, using the chart as a guide while you talk. Have a variety of articles related to the same topic, but from different websites, ready to look at on your smartboard, so students have a visual for the type of comparisons and analysis that is involved.

There are other approaches to this question of source credibility. However, I’d rather give my students a quick and easy tool that they are likely to actually remember and use, then a long, pragmatic list of filters and variables that will cause their eyes to gloss over.

So, when it comes to source credibility, let’s help our students keep it REAL. What do you think–is this an approach that would work in your classroom? Or in your own professional writing? If you’re a student, would this method help you? I’d love to hear from you!