Critical Thinking Avatars
Teachers and newspaper writers are familiar with the exploratory power of six questions, 5W+H:
Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
In the classroom, they can be usefully applied to any story.
Who was the main character?
What happened to her?
Where did she live?
When did the story take place?
Why was she unhappy in the first chapter?
How did she solve the problem with the Giant Bunny?
With a little tweaking, 5W+H can lead explorations in non-fiction, math, almost any subject area.
In traditional classrooms, the teacher asks the questions and then stands on one foot, then the other, sighs patiently, waiting for kids to answer.
5W+H. Wonderful questions that need pedagogical life support.
WBT’s approach: turn the questions into cartoons and add valuable comparison and contrast inquiries.
Join our Super Improver Facebook group to watch these outstanding Facebook Live tutorials from WBT Executive Board Member Krystal Long:
After Ms. Maestra has taught her class the Wonder Words, their gestures... and reviewed how they can be used to explore any subject, she launches student investigations.
Ms. Maestra: Marvelously intelligent class! (showing folded hands).
Students: Marvelously intelligent yes! (showing folded hands)
Ms. Maestra: Thank you, dear class! (hands on heart)
Students: You’re welcome, dear Ms. Maestra! (hands on heart)
Ms. Maestra: Mirror Words! (palms up)
Students: Mirror Words! (palms up)
Ms. Maestra: Three great Wonder Words questions about Little Red Riding Hood are Who, What, and Where! (counting on her fingers)
Students: Three great Wonder Words questions about Little Red Riding Hood are Who, What, and Where! (counting on their fingers)
Ms. Maestra: Three fabulous Wonder Words questions about Little Red Riding Hood are Who, What, and Where! (making the gesture for each word with special emphasis)
Students: Three fabulous Wonder Words questions about Little Red Riding Hood are Who, What, and Where! (making the gesture for each word with special emphasis)
Ms. Maestra: Mirrors off (putting palms down).
Students: Mirrors off (putting palms down).
Ms. Maestra: Please turn to your neighbor, ask as many of the three Wonder Words questions as possible about Little Red Riding Hood (pause... clap, clap) Teach!
Students: (clap, clap) Okay!
Ms. Maestra circles the room praising and prompting students as necessary. Next, she calls on kids to share their questions using complete sentences and Brainy gestures.
The beauty of this approach is that kids learn critical thinking by asking their own questions about lessons … in place answering the instructor’s queries.
See chapter 22 in Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids: 2nd Edition for a description of how to employ all eight Wonder Words.