Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Driver's School

So, I got a speeding ticket recently. It happens, right? I totally deserved it.  There was a good song on the radio and I was jamming out and let my foot get a little too heavy on the accelerator.

Well, as many of you may know the deal is this. Some traffic infractions equal some points on your license. The more points you have, the higher your insurance will go.

So, in order to keep my car insurance costs low, I elected to go to driver’s school.


Here’s what I learned from driver’s school.
1.    Proper following distance in good weather is two to three seconds.
2.    You never “have” right of way; you can only yield the right of way.
3.    Your reaction time after reading a text is worse than your reaction time while being intoxicated.

Here’s what I didn’t learn:
How to drive slower when singing along with the radio.

I took the test at the end of my online course. There were 40 true/false and multiple choice questions about driving trivia. (I passed. Whew!)

Not one test question actually tested my driving. There was only one scenario and it didn’t ask me what to do, only who was at fault.

I really need to use my higher-order thinking skills. I need to THINK about MY driving and APPLY what I learn about driving to the real road.

I don’t know about you, but knowing ABOUT something doesn't make me good at it. I know about the benefits of daily exercise. That doesn’t make me GOOD at exercising daily. I know ABOUT how to clean my house. That doesn’t make me GOOD at keeping it clean

So knowing ABOUT history and government doesn’t make me a good citizen.

APPLYING my knowledge to the real world makes me a better citizen. Using what I learn to make informed opinions and informed actions makes me a better citizen.

That’s why we need to teach our kids higher order thinking skills.

Image result for higher order thinking skillsWhat do I mean by higher-order thinking skills? Well, use Webb’s DOK, Bloom’s Taxonomy or Marzano. But really, higher order thinking involves analyzing (breaking things down), summarizing (putting things together), evaluating (making decisions about information), hypothesizing (making predictions about content) and creating (using information to create something new).

There’s more to it than that, but that’s a start.

The DBQ Project says it like this:
Core Beliefs Box·         All students need to LEARN how to think.
o    They aren’t all naturally talented at thinking any more than they are all naturally talented at baseball or piano or driving
·         Learning to think requires practice
o    Like baseball or violin, even kids who are naturally inclined need regular practice every day
·         Thinking is hard work
o    We often get frustrated at mental laziness. But if kids aren’t taught that thinking is hard work and aren’t expected to do that hard work every day, they aren’t used to it any more than they would be used to practicing pitching or long-distance driving)
·         Thinking is clarified by writing.
o    You can’t get better at thinking if you don’t hone that skill with writing anymore than you can improve your piano playing with the same piece of music)
·         Thinking is for everyone
o    Thinking is not just for magnet students or AP students or advanced students or Level 3s or gifted students or native English speakers. IT. IS. FOR. EVERYONE.

Think about how you teach.

You don’t have to TEACH a DBQ to teach higher order thinking -- but it is one wonderful tool.

Do you use gradual release to teach HOW to think? Or do you err on the side of “I’m going to tell you the answers because you can’t do it”? Or do you swing to the other side of the pendulum and have the kids “just do it” without enough instruction, modeling, etc.

Do you “chunk” content, readings, and activities into small, think-able bites? Or do you give kids too much where they get frustrated and give up?

Take a look at your classes -- and your assessments. Are you teaching higher-order thinking every day? Are you giving students many opportunities to practice that thinking? Are you understanding that it is hard work? Are you giving opportunities to clarify and improve that thinking through writing? Are you really teaching higher-order thinking to everyone or just certain students or groups?

Image result for how's my drivingDriver’s school didn’t make me think. It made me use rote memorization, very little of which is impacting my driving. If you’re on the road please know that I am self-aware enough to try to be safer and less ticket-y. I promise I am not a danger on the road.

Don’t teach like driver’s school did.

Teach kids how to think.

Give them opportunities and practice and writing and expectations of higher order thinking.

It’s on their EOCs and dd-EOCs. But more importantly, it’s what we want from our citizens.

How do you teach thinking? Any guesses on what I was jamming to when I got pulled over? As always, I love to hear! Please email me at

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