Tag Archives: critical thinking

40 Questions to help you wonder … about everything!

1. Are you a fair or a just person?
2. How do you know who your friends are?
3. Should you be rewarded for your efforts in school?
4. Should you let little things bother you?
5. Is it your duty to give to charity?
6. Will having fun make you happier than studying?
7. Should you ever tell a lie?
8. Are there times when you should be violent?
9. Do you sometimes feel weird when you are with others?
10. Do we control technology or does technology control us?

11. How do you know for certain that things move?
12. What makes something you say true?
13. Can you doubt that you exist?
14. Does a tree make a sound if it falls in a forest with no one around?
15. Are you certain that the law of gravity is really a law?
16. How can you tell when you know something?
17. Can another person understand your feelings?
18. Can you lie to yourself?
19. Do you perceive things as they are or only as they seem to be?
20. Can computers think?

21. Can you think about nothing at all?
22. Does anything ever happen by chance?
23. What happens to numbers when you are not using them?
24. Are numbers and people equally real?
25. Is time what you see when you look at a clock?
26. If the universe came from the BIg Bang, where did the Big Bang come from?
27. Are you the same person you were five years ago?
28. Do you have free will?
29. Does anything depend on everything?
30. Are impossible things ever possible?

Critical Thinking
31. Is it important to speak and write so you can be understood?
32. Should you always listen to the opinions of others?
33. Should you criticize people or the opinions people have?
34. Why is “because” such an important word?
35. Is it easy to tell what causes things to happen?
36. If many people think something is true, is it true?
37. Do two wrongs balance out and make an action right?
38. “I am lying.” True or false?
39. Can something logical ever not make sense?
40. “I wonder … ” what it means to define something?

Big changes in the Mac Lab

The new MacPro server is set up and ready to go and each new iMac is lit up and rolling. Still a couple install bugs I have to sort out: like naming each computer(minor error at startup as Leopard assigns its own name). They should get you to the net and back.

I’ve spent far more time than I wanted setting everything up, but I know the value of an automagic, autonomous Mac lab. Each iMac has the standard out of the box Mac stuff, iTunes, Garageband, Safari. But I’ve added the usual favourites as well: Firefox and Microsoft Office. No Adobe applications yet as there was a mix up somewhere and it hasn’t arrived. The new cameras and their bell’s and whistles should be here soon. I still have to order more audio gear(keyboard and mixer) and other odds and ends. The Comtech blog will have details as they unfold.

The iblogs have been updated, again. Little surprises, mostly. New themes, better support for tagging. Recall how we had to add code to align an image in a post, you’ll like the automagic stuff there too. Trackbacks still do what trackbacks do, but we’ll use Pingbacks from here on in.

Post tagging will be emphasized(3-5 tags per post is enough) which means a post should only need to be in one category. This summer I added tags to all my old posts, but in the process deleted all my categories, so I have new work to do there someday :grrr

I’ve added a new blog devoted to tags called iblog.stjschool.org/tags/. It updates on the fly when any post is published at iblogs.stjschool.org. I’ve written a couple widgets to support the rollout of the sitewide tags blog too.

Reminders about blogging at STJ: abide your signed “Computer Use Agreement.” Set your privacy and comment moderation settings to whatever level is comfortable to you (Private blogs do not appear in the tags blog/widgets, though). Don’t forget to update your blogroll and refresh your tagline.

If you are looking for ideas for your first post, my Random Idea Generator, Focus Question Generator, Critical Thinking Generator, Learning Log Generator are all now plugins you need to activate in order to add them to the Edit Post form. Or you could browse Snowflakes, or Ideas won’t keep.

If you want to boast, help, cry, complain, or belly-ache about something about the site go to the Forums. I need some help, again, choosing the course focus questions . . . hint-hint.

Course Outlines and Reading lists for Language Arts 9, English 10, and English 20.

In 2008/9, each CTS student I teach must earn 2 credits in Information Processing before moving on to the ComTech modules. At least one credit must be in Keyboarding, if you can’t get a second keyboarding credit I recommend Information Highway 2. What Comtech modules will be ready will depend on circumstances in and beyond my control. I have some very interested “Industry Partners” willing to share in our efforts in ComTech.

My son Malcolm took this last image, I like the surreal blur as I puzzle over the Leopard Server install manual in microprint. Notice the 14 inch monitor(circa 1996) The cinema display has since arrived via China–>Alaska–>Ontario–>Calgary–>Edmonton…

Portfolio 10: Now Focus on Me

Students will listen, speak, read, write, view, and represent to:

  1. Explore thoughts, ideas, feelings, and experiences
  2. Comprehend literature and other texts in oral, print, visual, and multimedia forms, and respond personally, critically, and creatively.
  3. Manage ideas and information
    • determine inquiry or research requirements
    • follow a plan of inquiry
  4. Create oral, print, visual, and multimedia texts, and enhance the clarity and artistry of communication
  5. Respect, support, and collaborate with others

Specific Outcomes:

  1. Each student will write a final post as an introduction to all the portfolio pieces that directly or indirectly let the audience know what it is s/he values most about life.
  2. Students will internalize focus questions.
  3. Students will infuse ICT outcomes.
  4. Students will create a portfolio in response to course focus questions.
  5. Students will improve their “TIC” (Technique, Insight, Communication)
  6. Student writing skills will emphasize an increase in personal voice and a decrease in X=X errors

    Students will plan a portfolio that includes the following.

    1. One post about a novel’s exploration of a focus question
    2. One post about a short story’s exploration of a focus question
    3. One post about an excerpt from Shakespeare exploring a focus question
    4. One post prompted by viewing a film or TV episode with emphasis on voice and critical thinking about a focus question
    5. One post prompted by a music lyric with emphasis on voice and critical thinking about a focus question
    6. Now Focus on Me: a final post as an introduction to all the portfolio pieces that directly or indirectly let the audience know what it is s/he values most about life.


      • 1 submission but all assignments must be included/linked


      • May 30: final submission


      • rubric.png

      Novel Study Preflight Checklist

      Read a Novel from the Reading List:

      Tracback a “map” of your response here.

      Hamlet: Act 1 and 2(English 30)

      How do isolation and loneliness affect how we perceive ourselves?

      Is Horatio a nihilist? A Christian existentialist? Something else? Does he reveal his “imperatives“? How does he respond when evidence challenges his “imperatives”?

      Consider “Postulates 1-4.”

      How do characters respond when evidence clearly contradicts their ideals?

      While viewing/reading/blogging, keep the usual “Cornell” notes with pen and paper. Blog your response to textual issues arising from class discussion. Link your blog to online sources: wikis, etexts, guides, discussions, imdbs. Synthesize don’t plagiarize: hyperlink all sources. Refer to “Improve Your Critical Thinking” suggestions.

      Refresh your skills by looking again at notes from our discussion on Bloom: Knowledge=>Comprehension==>Application==>

      Ask for the “Strong Verbs” handout if you’ve misplaced yours.

      PS: linguistic multi-taskers will excel.

      Get your critical thinking started:

      “I noticed __________ it made me __________.”
      “I found __________ and __________ and decided __________.”
      “Here’s the problem as I see it: __________.”
      “Here’s the solution: __________.”
      “I changed how I see __________ to __________.”
      ” __________ is/n’t similar/different to __________ because __________.”
      “Here’s an outline of __________.”
      “That means __________ is related to __________.”
      “Clearly, this evidence supports __________.”
      “Describe __________.”
      “Interview __________ about __________.”
      “Demonstrate the use of __________.”
      “Explain __________ in your own words.”
      “How is __________ and example of __________?”
      “Define __________.”
      “What assumptions are necessary for __________ to be true?”
      “What distinguishes __________ from __________?”
      “What would happen if you combined __________ and __________?”
      “Devise a solution for __________.”
      “If __________ is true then __________ might be true.”
      “Modify __________ to __________.”
      “Extend ideas on __________ to __________.”
      “The __________ evidence supports __________.”
      “Do you agree with __________?”
      “Prioritize __________ according to __________.”
      “What criteria would you use to assess __________?”
      “I recommend __________ because __________.”
      “What is the most important __________?”
      “Is __________ consistent with __________?”
      “Justify __________.”

      Bloggiest start to the bloggiest year ever.

      What a funny word, “bloggiest”. Should I say it is a “most bloggy” start to the year? Does correct English matter in a blog?

      All students I teach have begun a blog, of sorts. For the most part, I’ve insisted the content of the blog must be school or course related, the myriad responses to Macbeth fit this category. Other responses are more like “snowflakes”, snowflakes is my term to describe the phenomena of no two responses to the same prompt being identical.

      I aggregate(not related to the term aggravate) RSS feeds from each class to aid in tracking down assigned work. Each student has a spreadsheet I term the Data Collector that averages rubric scores and totals moderated comment feeds, too. I then collect the Data Collectors periodically to determine scores to enter into GradeLogic. The data collectors serve a dual purpose, a foundation to build a grade obviously, but a powerful device to bring a landslide of peer pressure and collaborative assistance on the lazy, slower, or reluctant bloggers. Those that finish first have always shown a willingness to “share their secrets” with others.

      Students are also instructed to collect and deposit appropriate comments on each other’s blogs, too. It is proving to be a fine art to learn to comment. Last year I found the aspect of commenting to be more valuable than the creation of the posts. Comments must contain evidence of critical thinking, I said, not simply “gladhanding”. If you troll the blogs you’ll notice the biggest difference right now between a veteran blogger and a newbie is the quality/quantity of appropriate comments. Students complete work earlier to benefit from positive/any attention from peer “commentors”. Any student who doesn’t get their blog post done on time, gets punished by receiving low or no rubric scores from their peers. However, unlike class discussions, the very nature of blogging allows anyone to catch up at any time. The students themselves seem to have an unofficial pecking order for who writes the best comments. They have internalized their own standards for what they will accept as a comment on their blog and are very persuasive at convincing each other to measure up. A few students are positively verbose and comment on all they can. Others choose fewer responses yet measure their words very carefully. Those that finish writing a post early, are left to hustle remaining students.

      The grade 10s are shifting their attention to Keyboarding modules for a while, although I keep prodding them about “Turing Tests”. iGod is our most recent fascination.

      The grade 9s get their prompts from Mrs. Fraser’s class then I help them become a bit more tech savvy.

      The Grade 11s are in the midst of Macbeth and may see no reprieve for at least 2 more weeks, I figure. The more traditional assignments I’ve used for the last 14 years are as appropriate in a blog as they have ever been in my class. Doing it with blogs is just so cool!

      Anti-Bullying Song Research Assignment

      Blog an online research about a song that relates to Heather’s workshop(s) about:

      • Bullying
      • Domestic Violence
      • Peace
      • Getting Along


      1. Lyrics, portions cut’pasted with hyperlink to source.
      2. 250-words:
      • What is going on in the song?
      • What is the message the artist is trying to send?
      • How do you feel about this message?
      • How does it focus on the workshop topics?

      3. Composer, performer, dates, album art, awards.

      4. History, background, items/ideas of interest

      5. Hyperlink all sources.

      6. Add to Assessment Data Spreadsheet and apply Critical Thinking rubric (1-4)

      7. Moderate three comments on your own. Leave plenty of comments, at least three, on other iblog.stjschool.org blogs.