Critical & Creative Thinking Skills
Module Focus: Introduction
In this module, we’ll take a look at what one teacher is doing to bring critical and creative thinking into her classes. Her students are learning to take a “think locally and act globally” approach to problem-solving and new areas of inquiry in their learning as they develop their language skills.
This is the first week in a large class of young adults. The teacher is using a content-based approach with a Mass Media theme as a basis for the day’s activities. She is assessing students’ skills as they participate in and complete a series of tasks. Observe the sequence of activities that she has students do over the course of the class. Ask yourself, “In what ways are critical and creative thinking involved?’
#1 Viewing Points: Mass Media Activity #1
Video segment #1. What examples of critical or creative thinking do you see?
SO WE ARE GOING TO BE TALKING ABOUT MASS MEDIA, COMMUNICATION, T.V., AND OTHERS, OKAY?
I’M GOING TO GIVE YOU THIS PAPER. PLEASE DON’T LOOK AT IT. JUST…WAIT UNTIL EVERYBODY’S READY. DON’T READ.
OKAY. I’M GOING TO PLAY SOME MUSIC.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO IS TO WRITE YOUR NAMES HERE ON THE LINES, AND YOU HAVE TO PASS — WRITE YOUR NAME, AND YOU PASS IT TO THE NEXT PERSON.
VERY QUICKLY, BECAUSE THE MUSIC CAN STOP. YOU HAVE TO FINISH BEFORE THE MUSIC STOPS, OKAY?
SO WRITE YOUR NAME VERY QUICKLY AND PASS IT TO THE RIGHT, TO THE OTHER PERSON.
[ upbeat hip-hop music plays ]
NOW, YOU ARE GOING TO GO AROUND THE CLASS ASKING PEOPLE SOME OF THESE THINGS, QUICK QUESTIONS.
OKAY, YOU HAVE THE QUESTIONS, AND FOR EXAMPLE, HERE, NUMBER ONE, YOU HAVE LUIS.
SO YOU HAVE TO GO TO LUIS AND ASK HIM, “HOW MANY HOURS DO YOU LIKE TO WATCH T.V.?”
OR, “HOW MANY HOURS DO YOU WATCH T.V.?” OKAY?
SO YOU COMPLETE THE INFORMATION, OKAY?
SO YOU MUST TALK WITH EVERYBODY HERE. LOOK FOR THE PERSON AND ASK THE QUESTION, AND THEN COMPLETE THE INFORMATION, WHAT YOU HAVE MISSING THERE, OKAY?
DO YOU GET THAT?
OKAY, SO PLEASE, LET’S STAND UP, AND LOOK FOR THE PEOPLE, FIND OUT THE INFORMATION.
[ all talking indistinctly ]
I THINK IT’S GOOD IN SOME CASES, BUT, YOU KNOW, THERE IS SO MANY THINGS THAT ARE BAD, TOO.
THE BEST COSTA RICAN SHOW IS?
UM… [ speaks indistinctly ]
WHAT DO YOU THINK WAS INTERESTING ABOUT YOUR CLASSMATES’ INFORMATION? WHAT DID YOU FIND?
MOST OF THEM WATCH SPORT PROGRAMS.
OKAY, LET’S FINISH WITH THIS IDEA: WHAT ABOUT TECHNOLOGY? WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT TECHNOLOGY? AND YOUR CLASSMATES, WHAT DID THEY SAY?
IT DEPENDS ON THE WAY THAT WE USE IT. WE CAN USE IN A GOOD WAY OR… YEAH, IN A BAD WAY.
IT CAN HELP US, BUT IT CAN DESTROY US.
Students began the class with a warm-up and “getting to know you” activity. Students had to synthesize the information that they collected and report on it. Analysis and synthesis are good examples of higher order or criticalthinking skills. Note also that this activity used integrated language skills, plus a variety of self-management and communication strategies.
#2 Viewing Points: Mass Media Activity #2
Video segment #2. What examples of critical or creative thinking do you see?
I WANT YOU TO MAKE FOUR GROUPS.
I AM GOING TO GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO READ. YOU’RE GOING TO READ, AND YOU’RE GOING TO PLAN A ROLE-PLAY ABOUT WHAT IS IN HERE.
THESE ARE, LIKE, FOUR DIFFERENT THINGS ABOUT TELEVISION.
SO LET’S MAKE GROUPS OF FOUR. FIVE. FOUR GROUPS OF FIVE, PLEASE, AND I GIVE YOU WHAT YOU HAVE TO READ, AND THEN YOU PLAN A SHORT ROLE-PLAY.
SO YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE, LIKE, FIVE MINUTES TO PLAN HOW ARE YOU GOING TO REPRESENT WHAT IS IN HERE, OKAY?
LET’S MAKE THE GROUPS.
[ girl talking indistinctly ]
I LEARN ABOUT EVENTS IN THE OUTSIDE WORLD.
POLITICS, THE ENVIRONMENT, RECENT CHANGES IN TECHNOLOGY, AND SO ON.
I LIKE GAME SHOWS AND TRAVEL PROGRAMS, TOO, AND I LOVE COMEDIES.
I CALL YOU TO THE BOARD, TALK ABOUT YOUR PROBLEM.
AND WE ARE SUPPOSED TO FIGHT WITH THEM?
YES, HE FIGHT.
YOU ARE LISTEN TO MUSIC, AND YOU ARE WATCHING T.V.
THE NAMES ARE THE SAME?
YES, AND I — I PUT ALL IN THE LIVING ROOM AND TALK ABOUT THIS PROBLEM, AND MAYBE LOOK AT INFORMATION PROGRAM LIKE THAT.
OKAY, THIS IS MY WIFE, JOLISA.
YOU TWO ARE MY DAUGHTERS, AND WE’RE GOING TO REPRESENT A FAMILY PROBLEM.
[ knocking ]
LAURA! COME TO TAKE YOUR DINNER! LAURA?
[ speaks indistinctly ]
GO TO TAKE YOUR DINNER.
NO, I DON’T WANT.
HOW ARE YOU?
HOW WAS YOUR DAY?
I HAVE SOME PROBLEMS.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
I DON’T KNOW.
LAURA, ONLY — ALL THE DAY IN THE — IN THE BEDROOM, ONLY — ONLY LISTEN TO THE RADIO AND DON’T READING, DON’T STUDY, AND DANIELA .IS, TOO.
I’M GOING TO TALK WITH THE GIRLS.
I’M GOING TO TELL THEM SO THEY CAN COME AND SEE THE COMMENTARY PROGRAM, MAYBE, THAT’S BEST FOR THEM, BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT TO READ.
MAYBE WE COULD SEE T.V. AND LEARN. SO I’M GOING TO CALL THEM.
WHY DON’T YOU GO TALK TO LAURA…
HONEY? COME ON.
BUT I WANT TO LOOK AT MY FAVORITE…
I’M SORRY, WE ARE GOING TO SEE — TO SEE THE COMMENTARY ABOUT THE ONE YOUR MOTHER WANT TO SEE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.
SO WE’RE GOING TO SIT WITH THE FAMILY, ALL RIGHT?
[ speaks indistinctly ]
MAYBE YOU CAN LEARN SOMETHING.
AND AFTER YOU DECIDE WHAT DO YOU WATCH IN THE TELEVISION.
SO, THE PROGRAM FINISHED. WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT IT?
I CAN LEARN ABOUT THEM, MY FAVORITE ANIMAL.
WHAT IS IT?
THE BUTTERFLY. THEY’RE VERY BEAUTIFUL.
YES, AND YOU, LAURA?
I LIKE TO LISTEN MUSIC EVERY…
LAURA, PLEASE. SAY ME SOMETHING. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS PROGRAM?
THERE IS VERY IMPORTANT – VERY BEAUTIFUL…
OKAY, WE’RE GOING TO DO THIS EVERY WEEK! DID YOU HEAR?
SO COME UP. STAND UP AND GO TO STUDY.
[ applause ]
Students worked in groups to create and perform skits that addressed a current issue or problem related to Mass Media. Students used both critical and creative thinking skills as they analyzed the problem or task, wrote the script, and then performed it together. Do you think the students got their “message” across? Why, or why not?
Module Focus: Summary
The focus in Module 09 has been on Critical and Creative Thinking Skills. Like this teacher, we hope that you too can take a critical and creative approach both to your own teaching and to the learning that students experience in your classroom. Let English be the medium through which they expand their minds and through which they then apply that thinking in the world beyond. For us and for them, the sky is the limit!
See the manual for readings and more information on this and other topics related to critical and creative thinking.