Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bloggers Vows

I was turned-on to a great blog, I suggest anyone interested in children's literature check it out. And I hope this is an appropriate thing to do as I'm not sure of all the Do's and Don't of polite blogging. On this site the author, Kara Schaff Dean, renewed her blogging vows and gave some great advice that applies to all of us to blog. I know I've make mistakes as a novice, but my goal is really to share how we can reform education and make the world better place. My ideas are not new, I've have many awesome mentors over the years. I do think I have learned over 30 years as a classroom teacher how to apply innovated educational concepts/philosophies to empower children to be leaders and make a difference.  I hope you continue to read my blog and I know as time progresses and I learn how to use all the new technology my site will visually improve. I just wanted to get started as I miss students and teaching so... much! Please leave comments or suggestions how I can improve my blog. Thank You! :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Stand Up - Speak Out - Make A Difference

Stand Up - Speak Out - Make A Difference: My Philosophy Of Education

I never intended to become a teacher, in fact it was the last thing I wanted to do. I worked my way through college by working as a paraprofessional. Many of the teachers I worked with encourage me to get my teaching credential but I always blanched at the idea although I never told any of them why. I didn't like what I saw going on in classrooms by what I thought were dedicated but naive teachers. The teachers I worked with came from middle class backgrounds and I didn't think they were aware of all the institutional racism, classism, and other "isms" within the school system. Their thinking was based on the deficit model, some kids inherited a dumb gene - that didn't sit well with the liberals so they came up with another explanation -  accumulated environment deficit. Some students didn't fail because they inherited the dumb gene they were dumb because of the lack of intellectual stimulation during early formative years. That became the basis for Head Start and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Still others blame an anti-intellectual culture.

Virtually no one was taking about why minority children and children from lower social economic classes were in the special programs and  how that was the connection to systemic "isms" prevalent in all aspects of the school system.  No one was saying maybe some students were failing because of the learning environment was insufficiently encouraging. These are three features of a learning environment that could lead to a differential academic performance:
Competence - Encouraging students to believe they could successfully master the school work.
Belonging - Students welcomed into the classroom and made to feel each had a an important part to play.
Usefulness -Students find immediate use to what they have learned, or visualize many ways in which what they have learned has utility.

Real life is about work and a career, it is about making serious, sensible, decisions in personal life, and sometimes life and death decisions in one's political life. Real life is music, social relationships, knowing a wide variety of people from a wide variety of cultures and life-styles, and real life is about making intelligent decisions about how to save the earth!

Education should be directed toward learning how to make intelligent decisions in the most basic arenas of our lives - war, economics, governance, race, ethnicity and gender, and ecology. Corporate education (No Child Left Behind Act) does not want anyone to make intelligent decisions in these matters. Only a democratic education that probes and searches collectively for solutions to overcome war, violence, discrimination, poverty, and ecologic destruction can begin to move use to real and positive change.

A democracy puts control of all aspects of society in the hands of and informed electorate. It requires that a serious effort be made for all eligible to vote are equally informed and equaled empowered. Some say that's impossible! But that brings us back to education.

A democratic education accomplishes two things. Students learn about democracy by experiencing it in classrooms. And they learn how to be responsible citizens by practicing citizenship.

Democratic education engages students in thoughtful conversations, has them: conduct meaningful research, discover rather than being told and utilize rather than store learning. Such an education has students work cooperatively in projects designed to produce some form of community development - a public good. Such an education encourages every student to become an independent thinker while at the same time helps the student understand that change in  a democratic society requires collective action. Democratic education has its goal not only a rich understanding of complicated multifaceted rapidly changing world that the students live in, but also, the intellectual wherewithal to be effective agents of change.

As anyone who has spent time in classrooms knows the single most important agent of education is the teacher. If ever a truly positive educational reform is to be achieved, it will occur when responsibility is located in the classroom teacher. That is where education takes place. And there is where true reform begins. Creative teachers learn to work within the system while they work to reform it. I support public education because the diversity of ideas that comes from people with different backgrounds and experiences which is what is needed to solve problems, what will we accomplish if we think alike?  Ben Frankin as a great example, he didn't invent or create ideas in isolation, his genius is documented through  his correspondence with people from a wide range of backgrounds. Frankin bounced ideas off others. If you read Darwin's biographical history you will find that he had been thinking about the theory of evolution for a long time but was unable to fully articulate it. Good democratic schools demand that we acknowledge every one's inalienable capacity to be an inventor, dreamer,and theorist - to count in the larger scheme of things. I truly believe that the foundation for a democratic education should be at the local level where all concerned, teachers, students, parents, and community members participate in defining the criteria for what's worth knowing. I will write about how teachers can work within the system while they are striving to reform it. Teachers can use the standards creatively. They don't have to follow a prescribe curriculum. It is also my hope that reader's will join me by participating in exchanges about how to reform education.

If teaching is be effective it has to be guided by a  vision. Some aspects of the vision are simple, instilling a love of learning. Other aspects which I will discuss in detail in future blogs include:
*An environment that enables all to grow to their fullest potential.
*A legitimate authority - consent of the governed.
*Inclusion - all equally protected and empowered.
*Equal access and capacity to use knowledge on which important decisions are based.
*Development of the skills necessary to participate in collective decision making.
*The inalienable rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
Any serious discussion of the democracy brings in all of the above. I look forward to exchanging ideas with others interested in education.

 If public schooling is to be rescued from the clutches of an un American global capitalism, the alternative must be clear and precise. Such an education must be desirable and feasible by the majority of the public. And by desirable meaning that students must want to be a part of it. It must be strong enough to withstand the naysayers who serve no other purpose than to dumb down what passes for debate and there by undermines democratic institutions. There is no agreement on democratic education but I suggest you read the works by Deborah Meier, and other educational reformers.

Democracy embraces diverse opinions engaging in meaningful interactions in a effort to arrive at a negotiated consensus. If is not possible, and it rarely is, the the contending parties gain the benefit of mutual understanding. For a deliberative democracy to work the must be: diversity of opinion, a place for deliberation, and sufficient time for ideas to be worked out. There must be some negotiated rules/standards - a willingness to listen, disagreeing without being disagreeable. Also the development of understanding that differences are not settled by a preponderances of opinions, or who can argue the loudest, but by logic and evidence, i.e. The Habits Of The Mind. For a deliberative democracy to work the electorate has to know how to deliberate. And that is  precisely what a democratic education makes possible and what corporate education by its insistence on monopolizing time for test taking vigorously opposes. Their agenda is no secret - the dumbing down of citizens, lack of opportunity to learn and participate in the political process, all means to control the population
However, there is hope. Thousands of teachers have democratic classrooms and are challenging the status quo.

My teaching model was based on democratic education/classroom and the theory of integrated thematic instruction, which embraces Howard Gardener's theory of multiple intelligences, and teaching to different modalities. The theme I choose and all curriculum units where designed around was: Stand Up - Speak Out- Make A Difference. Stand Up - for what you believe in, Speak Out - what you feel is wrong, or what you know to be right, Make A Difference - in your classroom, school, community, the environment, your life, and the life's of others. Be agents of social change and build a better world!

Follow my blog and learn how I created a democratic classroom. Students always asked - what about next year when I don't have a teacher like you? How do they empower themselves with the tools and the lessons they learned?  I will write about my on-going struggles with being an advocate for children and for democratic education reform. And let's discuss the qualities of the signal most important agent of eduction, the teacher. Also learn about how to use popular young adult and children's literature as a tool to analyze the world, create a vision for a better world and act upon that vision. All change is political and our children's ideas are powerful!

One summer I took an introductory course to education taught by Dr. Art Pearl he inspired me to become a teacher and taught me how teachers dedicated to democratic education could transform classrooms and empower students. I did that for 30 years. He changed the course of my life. And  most of all, I want to thank all my students, I learned so much from them!

Happy Reading - Until next time:)

Vocabulary for Essential Thinking Skills

Toward A Mindful Language Of Learning

Years of research have shown that the close, intertwined relationship of language and thought. In fact, the cognitive processes that children derive are embedded in the vocabulary, inflections, and syntax of adults' language. Through these interactions in their formative years, children develop foundations of thought that endure throughout their lives. (Vygotsky, 1962)

Language is the foundation for the essential thinking skills. A person must have both inner and expressive language to develop critical thinking skills. For example, if students do not have an inner language (talking to themselves), they will have difficulty thinking through a problem or being aware of their own thinking so they can use what they have learned in other situations. If a person does not have expressive language (talking to others), they will be unable to participate in social thinking or to articulate questions.

We can all develop the habit of thinking and communicating with clarity and precision. In so doing, we educate students' cognitive structures, which ultimately leads to increased academic performance. Today's blog contains suggestions for vocabulary, synonyms, key terms, and word phrases that stand for and convey meanings similar to the terms used for each essential thinking skill.


  • Never give up
  • Perseverance
  • Indefatigable
  • Focused
  • Try and try again
  • Stamina
  • Continuing
  • Stand your ground
  • Undaunted
  • Drive
  • Relentless
  • Sustained
  • Systematic
  • Tenacity
  • Diligence
  • Reliant
  • Enduring
  • Stick-to-it-tiveness
  • Hang in there
  • Hang tough
Managing Impulsivity:
  • Think before you act
  • Deliberate
  • Strategic
  • Thoughtful
  • Patient
  • Mediate
  • Self-regulated
  • Calm
  • Reflective
  • Controlled
  • Count to 10
  • Wait time
  • Take a deep breath
  • Planned
  • Considered
Listening With Empathy And Understanding:
  • Empathic
  • Tuned in
  • Mirroring
  • Attentive
  • Attuned
  • Caring
  • Concentrate
  • Paraphrase
  • Respectful
  • Focused
  • Summarizing
  • Compassionate
Thinking Flexibly:
  • Adaptable
  • Bendable
  • Options
  • Changing
  • Open-minded
  • Diversity
  • Alternatives
  • Expandable
  • Plasticity
  • Lateral thinking
  • Pliable
  • Creative
  • Different points of view
  • Resilient
  • Different perspectives
  • Growing
  • Multiple solutions
  • Fluent
  • Repertoire
  • Many possibilities
Questioning And Posing Problems:
  • Quest
  • Interested
  • Probing
  • Investigative
  • Clarifying
  • Curious
  • Interrogative
  • Inquisitive
  • Skeptical
  • Cautious
  • Inquiry
  • Query
  • Seeking
  • Proof
  • Delving
  • Speculative
  • Qualify
  • Hypothetical
  • Perplexing
Applying Past Knowledge To New Situations:
  • Re-use
  • Recycle
  • Draw forth
  • Know your resources
  • Reminds me...
  • Remember
  • Recall
  • Apply
  • Bridge
  • Transfer
  • Use again
  • Prior knowledge
  • Scaffolding
  • Just like the time when...
  • Similar situations
  • Reservoir of knowledge/experiences
  • Transform
  • Translate
  • Implementation
  • Utilize
Gathering Data Through All Senses:
  • Engaged
  • Involvement
  • Perceptions
  • Sensing
  • Hands-on
  • Interactive
  • Touch
  • Concrete
  • Physical, visual, tactual, kinesthetic
  • Feel it
  • Experiential
  • Perceptual acuity
  • Clarity
  • Sensitivity
  • Move it
  • Dance
  • Auditory, gustatory, olfactory
  • Sensitivities
  • Sensations
Creating, Imagining, Innovating:
  • Unique
  • Productive
  • Fertile
  • Generative
  • Brainstorm
  • Prolific
  • Imaginative
  • New
  • Fresh
  • Ingenious
  • Novel
  • Fecund
  • Fluent
  • Engender
  • Unconventional
  • Inventive
  • Clever
  • Divergent
  • Artistic
  • Innovative
  • Spontaneous
Taking Responsible Risks:
  • Bold
  • Adventuresome
  • Courageous
  • New pathways
  • Exploration
  • Daring
  • Pathfinders
  • Unconventional
  • Gamble
  • Living on the edge
  • Vagabond
  • Venture
  • Challenged
  • Roving
  • Individualistic
  • Free-spirited
  • Do your thing
  • Just do it
Thinking Interdependently:
  • Cooperative
  • Collegial
  • Congenial
  • Collaborative
  • Sense of community
  • Family
  • Interdependence
  • Interconnected
  • Support group
  • Teamwork
  • Reciprocity
  • Synergistic
  • Mutual
  • Harmonious
  • Amicable
  • Social
  • Reciprocal
  • Companionship
Remaining Open To Continuous Learning:
  • Continuous learning
  • Lifelong learning
  • Problem finding
  • Insatiable
  • Inquisitive
  • Self-modifying
  • Self-help
  • Self-evaluating
  • Continual learner
  • Perpetual student
  • Failing forward
  • Learning from experience
  • Self-actualizing
  • Mastery
  • Commitment
Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision:
  • Articulate
  • Choice of words
  • Grammatically correct
  • Communicative
  • Enunciate
  • Command of the language
  • Eloquent
  • Define your term
  • Editing

Striving for accuracy:
  • Correct
  • Craftsmanlike
  • Check it out
  • Refine
  • Adroit
  • Hit the bull's-eye
  • Sharp
  • Perfection
  • On target
  • Exactness
  • Clear
  • Specific
  • Stamina
  • Proof
  • Flawless
  • Effortless
  • Quality
  • Surety
  • Mastery
  • Ensure
  • Quality control
  • Fit
  • Uncompromising
  • Zero tolerance
  • Finished

  • Self-aware
  • Awareness
  • Thinking aloud
  • Reflective
  • Strategic planning
  • Have a plan in mind
  • Self-evaluative
  • Thinking about your thinking
  • Knowing what you know and what you don't know
  • Mental map
  • Talking to yourself
  • Inner dialogue
  • Self-monitoring
  • Inside your head
  • Inner thoughts
  • Inner feeling
  • Talk-aloud problem solving
  • Consciousness
  • Alertness
  • Cognizance

Responding with wonderment and and awe:
  • Wondrous
  • Alive
  • Sensation
  • Aha!
  • Amazed/Amazement
  • Appreciation
  • Far out
  • Astounding
  • Fascination
  • Excitement
  • Phenomenon
  • Awesome
  • Passionate
  • Marvel
  • Exuberant
  • Way cool
  • Miraculous
  • Energized
  • Challenged
  • Insatiable
  • Wide-eyed
  • Mysterious
  • Visionary
  • Obsessed
  • Motivated
  • Enthralled
  • Surprised
  • Transfixed
Finding humor:
  • Laughable
  • Laugh at yourself
  • Funny
  • Comic
  • Comedian
  • Absurd
  • Bizarre
  • Pun
  • Jokester
  • Irony
  • Satirical
  • Clown
  • Playful
  • Caricature
  • Fanciful
  • Whimsical
  • Capricious
  • Comedy
  • Wittiness
  • Funnybone
  • Merry disposition

In an upcoming post I am going to discuss the Habits Of The Mind Standards, how I began my school year. I will also recommend a few children's picture books to introduce a lesson.

Happy reading:)


Friday, September 14, 2012

How teachers and parents can use popular young adult and children's books to create social change

I am a retired teacher and miss teaching and being with children. Unfortunately, I had to retire before I was really ready due to health issues ( I'm better now but not 100%) I do lots of different kinds of volunteer activities. I'm involved politically because I believe all substantive change is political. I work as an advocate for children and for educational reform. Everything a teacher can do in her/his classroom is determined by a politician. I just started a tutoring service and I became an Amazon Affiliate because I need to earn extra income as my retitement doesn't cover all my expenses-medical insurance is outrageous! I thought maybe I could combine my passion for teaching  by writing about how I worked within the system while at the same time worked to reform it. My blog is about my educational philosophy. I share lesson plans and ideas, and  I focus on how to use children's and YA books to foster thoughtful discussions and how to empower students to become agents of social change. Each entry is a little different, Stand Up- Speak Out- Make A Difference is about my journey and my philosophy of eduction. My hope is that my readers will join me in a on-going dialogue about how we can use popular literature and other educational tools to build a better world.

My 11 year old niece was reading THE HUNGER GAMES, by Suzanne Collins, and yuck was my first response. Children killing one another isn't appealing to me especially when there have been so many recent shootings. But I didn't want to lose a "teachable moment" because of my prejudices. My teaching experience has taught me to trust children. They know if the content of a book is too disturbing for them. They just set it down.  I wondered why this book was so popular with young people. I asked my niece and her friends what was appealing about such a dystopian novel. They didn't know what dystopian meant so that was our first discussion. A dystopian system is repressed, controlled, and restricted with multiple social controls put into place via government, military, or a powerful authority figure. Issues of surveillance and invasive technologies are often the key, as is a constant emphasis, that this is not a place where you'd want to live. There are four major elements that appear in good dystopian novels. Certainly books need not have all of them, but the best do: a setting so vividly and clearly described that it becomes almost a character in itself; individuals or forces in charge who have a legitimate reason for being as they are; protagonists who are shaped by their environment and situations, and a conclusion that reflects the almost always dire circumstances. They talked about how the book engaged them with a complex story that included love, teamwork, and survival and one girl said she thought if the government ran out of money they would have real Hunger Games. How could she think such a thing?

 I reluctantly read the novel and was pleasantly surprised! I'm glad I got over my prejudices and read the novel with an open mind. I would have missed the opportunity for countless "teachable moments". The novel is well-written and the taut, intricate plot is haunting, compelling, and rich- like peeling an onion, the layers explore issues that eerily parallel what is happening in the world today. Imagine a future in which the all that is left in the world is the ruins of a place known as North America. Panem the rich Capitol is surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is cruel and harsh and represents the empire of the future. Panem keeps the districts under control by forcing them to all send one girl and one boy between the between the ages twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.  Is this the method an authoritative government will use to wage war and insure peace in the future or is there a different way of living and being in the world?  Children know this planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don't poison the water, air, or soil, don't let the Earth get overcrowded, and don't touch the thermostat, have been broken. I now understand why that young girl thought that if the government runs out of money there would be real Hunger Games
Our children  need guidance and need to figure out what is means to be a human being on Earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. We need a new vision/system and we need it within a few decades. Forget that the task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don't be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after they are done.

When I am asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same. If you look at the science about what is happening on Earth and aren't pessimistic, you don't understand the data. But if you meet the people working to restore this Earth and the lives of others, especially the poor, and you aren't optimistic you haven't got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. Our children need to know they too can make a difference!

No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights and more. Children can research and join one of these movements or they can create their own movement and gain strength by connecting with others. By working for change children can provide hope, support and meaning for themselves and for others.

 With so much apathy and many children feeling powerless (the media and books strongly influence our children's perceptions) I began to think about if I was still teaching how I could use the themes in this novel for the positive. I talked to my niece and her friends about what kind of world do they want to live in.  They told me a world without war, hunger, poverty, clean water; a world with peace, enough goods for everyone, and guarantee human rights (all themes in the book). I asked them how they could make this happen, they didn't feel like they could do sad. We talked about how all change is political and if you want a different world you need a vision and a road map. It doesn't have to be perfect and will change over time but it's a beginning! Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers and our children are making a difference everyday. Let's continue to empower and engage them in meaningful ways. We brainstorm ideas that they could do right now to make the world a better place. Here's a list of some of their ideas:

*Create a vision of the world they want to live in-if you don't like the way things are now you have to propose an alternative
*Pick one problem/issue and develop a solution
*Join student council and share their ideas
*Write for the school newspaper about important topics and things kids can do
*Have a can food drive
*Car washes and donate the profits to a charity
*Start a school recycling program
*Start an environmental club
*Tutor younger students
* - this is a website where people can write petitions and have people sign them. Petitions  are forwarded to government officials. There are a lot of websites to post petitions on.

I want children to know that they do have power and they can make a difference. They are not a test score!
My message:
The living world is not "out there" somewhere, but in your heart. Follow your heart and know that you are brilliant, and the earth is hiring!
I wouldn't want to discuss all the themes in the book. I think you run the risk of ruining a good piece of literature that way. But do have children reflect on how they can apply the lessons you or they choose to examine to real-life situations.  Pick and choose what fits your circumstances. Happy reading!

A few themes and discussion ideas include:

*What does it mean to be human?
Study evolution and /or different religious beliefs from a multicultural/historical perspective.

*Examine the qualities of the different characters in the book. Katniss is able to survive because she has learned essential thinking skills and how to apply these skills.

Gathering data through all senses: Intelligent people know that all information gets to the brain through sensory pathways: gustatory, olfactory, tactical, kinesthetic, auditory and visual. Katniss sensory pathways are open, alert, and acute and she absorbs more information from the environment then Peeta whose pathways are oblivious to sensory stimuli. What happens when Katniss losses hearing in one of her ears? To know a dance it must be moved; to know a game it must be played; to know a goal it must be envision.
Managing impulsivity: is another essential thinking skill  that helps Katniss survive and there are many examples in the book. Effective problem solvers are deliberate: They think before they act. Her ability to delay gratification (she is hungry but the threat of being killed must be weighed) is perhaps the essence of emotional self-regulation. Katniss and Peeta have the ability to deny impulses, hunger and reacting to others in the Game without fully understanding their strategies. They take the time to reflect on alternatives and consequences of several possible directions before they take action.
Persistence: Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes but they never quit. Katniss is able to analyze a problem (and there are many for her to overcome)  and then she develops a strategy to attack it. If one strategy doesn't work she knows how to back up and try another. Katniss recognizes when an idea must be rejected and another employed. She has a systematic method for analyzing a problem, which includes knowing how to begin, what steps must be performed, and what data must be generated or collected. Because she is able to sustain a problem-solving process over time, she is able to deal with ambiguous situations
Thinking flexibly: Of all forms of mental activity, this is the most difficult to foster even in the minds of the young. An amazing discovery about the human brain is its plasticity-its ability to "rewire", change, and even repair itself to become smarter. Flexible people have the most control. They have the capacity to change their minds as they receive additional data. Katniss creates and seeks novel approaches to problems she encounters. She displays confidence in her intuition and is willing to let go of a problem, trusting her subconscious to continue creative and productive work on it.
Applying past knowledge to new situations: Intelligent humans learn from experience. Would Peeta survived without Katniss? Would he have eaten the poison berries? When confronted with a new a perplexing problem Katniss draws forth experiences from the past.
Taking responsible risks:To survive Katniss must draw on past knowledge, be thoughtful about consequences, and have a well-trained sense of what is  appropriate. Her risks are educated and she knows that all risks are not worth taking. Again there are countless examples you will find in the book.                                     
Listening with understanding and empathy: Some psychologists believe the ability to  listen to another person-to empathize with and to understand that person's point of view-is one of the highest forms of intelligent behavior. It's at the very core of what it means to be human. Katniss struggles with the tasks place before her. Her ability to see things from the other Game contestants point of view helps her plan a winning  strategy. She develops bonds with Rue and Peeta and the internal conflicts and choices she makes demonstrate her connections to others.
Creating, Imagining, Innovating: All human beings have the capacity to generate novel, clever, or ingenious products, solutions, and techniques-if that capacity is developed. Katniss conceived problems solutions differently, examining alternative possibilities from many angles. Peeta use a clever method (after he was seriously injured) to hide.
Thinking interdependently: Human are social beings. In groups we contribute our time and energy to tasks that we would quickly tire of when working alone. How do the players take care of each other?   How does forming alliances help the different players in the book survive?
 Remaining open to continuous learning: Intelligent people are in a continuous learning mode. "Insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Albert Einstein. Katniss' confidence, in combination with her inquisitiveness, allows her to constantly search for new and better ways to win the Games.
Metacognition: Thinking about thinking, metacognition is our ability to know what we know and what we don't know. It is our ability to plan a strategy for producing what information is needed, to be conscious of our own steps and strategies during the act of problem solving, and to reflect on and evaluate the productiveness of our own thinking. I don't know how many times I've asked a student how they solved a problem and they say they just did it, unable to describe the process. This is one of the most important thinking skills we can teach. The book describes what is going inside Katniss' head as she thinks. Katniss reflects on her thinking by tracing the pathways and blind alleys she takes on the road to her problem's solution i.e. winning the Games.
Striving for accuracy and precision: Check it again! A desire for exactness, fidelity and craftsmanship. Katniss checks to see if her tools/devices used work well enough for her purposes for example, will the trap she made work.
Questioning and problem posing: How do you know? Having a questioning attitude; knowing what data are needed and developing questioning strategies to produce those data. Katniss is constantly questioning the strategies of the other players and of those who are in charge of the Games. How does this help her win?
Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision: Strive for accurate communication in both written and oral form; avoiding over generalizations, distortions, deletions, and vague language. Find the passages in the book that contain examples of concise, descriptive, and coherent language. Find analogies in the book that demonstrate this skill.
Responding with wonderment and awe:Finding the world awesome, mysterious and being intrigued with phenomena and beauty. Katniss displays compassionate behavior toward other life forms. She understands the need to take care of the environment. She learns which roles and values are to respected in other human beings.
Finding Humor: Finding the whimsical, incongruous and unexpected. This is a trait that Peeta has developed to cope with stress. He uses humor to lift both his and Katniss' spirits when they are in a difficult situation.

There are many other ideas to explore in The Hunger Games.

Human Rights: How does Katniss and Peeta rebel and stand up for their rights? Study the abolition movement, civil rights movement, peace movements,  and more recently the Occupy Movements.

The Constitution Of The United States and the Bill Of Rights: Students could write their own constitution and their bill of rights.                                                

Post traumatic stress disorder: Is Haymitchs' alcoholism related to this disorder?

There are so many more lessons to explore in this book but I hope that I have given you some ideas about how to use the book to help children focus on the more positive aspects.

In future post I will spend more time on actual lessons. I just wanted you to get to know me a little. I will also recommend some adult books to educate ourselves and pass that knowledge to our children. For the next post I am going to write about vocabulary words and phrases related to each essential thinking skill.  I am also going to describe more essential thinking skills. In every academic field there are vocabulary words that define that discipline and gives a common language to communicate ideas. For example, these are a few key terms, synonyms, and word phrases that stand for and convey meanings similar to the terms I use for the essential thinking skills: characteristics, character traits, virtues, dispositions, qualities, attitudes, inclinations, proclivities, mental disciplines.

Until next time, happy reading!
Debra You can visit my store at:

I also have started tutoring. I can be reached at 707-628-8590, visit my site