Role as Facilitator
Teachers often play the role of facilitator in the teaching and learning process. In an information inquiry learning environment, good facilitators create opportunities for student thinking.
Characteristics of Facilitators
- Hint at possibilities
- Give options, not answers
- Use mistakes as opportunities
- Design challenges
- Promote meaningful encounters
- Nudge as needed
Facilitating Student Thinking
In the chapter Empowered Learning in Curriculum Connections through the Library edited by Stripling and Hughes-Hassell, Violet H. Harada (2003, p. 50-54) notes that children are natural thinkers, but critical thinking can be fostered by school librarians and teachers working a partners in instructional delivery. Examples include:
- Perception and Recognition: analogies help learners compare something familiar to something unfamiliar. Concept maps generated by either students or teacher also result in improved academic achievement.
Strategy... instead of using the ambiguous phase, What do you think? about ideas presented, asking students to compare, clarify, or justify their ideas guides students in managing their own thinking more clearly.
- Question Formulation: the process of generating questions is fundamental to critical thinking. It is the basis of the ongoing internal dialogue that is the core of intellectual analysis.
Strategy... generate questions from reading or materials. Ask students to turn text headings and subheadings into questions.
Strategy... create mock exam questions. Have students make up questions that may actually be used in future tests.
Strategy... improve question quality by establishing criteria for good and poorer questions and providing examples for critiquing.
Strategy... provide questioning stems and identify specific thinking skills induced by the different ones. For example, a question that begins with, "What would happen if" induced prediction and hypothesizing. "How does this affect" prompts a cause-and-effect analysis.
- Interpretation and Evaluation of Information: focused instruction in distinguishing between fact and opinion is important.
Strategy... provide students with the opportunity to take the lead on a discussion about reading materials. The student begins the discussion by asking a question and ends by summarizing the exchange. Students then discuss any disagreements. This type of reciprocal teaching results in increased learning from one class to another.
- Organization of Information: graphics organizers are spatial arrays that require learners to show how they construct their new knowledge.
Strategy... involve students in using organizers to summarize information.
- Metacognition: having students reflect on how they execute specific operations raises their thinking to a level of consciousness that allows teachers and learners to diagnose problems.
Strategy... categorize with multiple criteria
Strategy... paraphrasing what is heard
Strategy... engaging in "I think" writing
Strategy... maintaining a journal.
Read Key Word: Facilitator in THE BLUE BOOK by Callison and Preddy, 378-380.