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Comprehension vs. Critical Thinking | For Teachers

Comprehension vs. Critical Thinking | For Teachers

In the second installment of our comprehension and critical thinking mini-series, I want to discuss recognizing the difference between comprehension and critical thinking.

I don’t know about you, I’ve often used these terms interchangeably when really, they’re two very, very different things. How are they different?

  • Comprehension is when the reader can ask themselves, ‘Do I understand what I’m reading?’
  • Critical thinking is the reader asking themselves, ‘Do I believe, or should I believe what I am reading? 

It is crucial for kids to use comprehension as a tool for critical thinking, and that is something that we can teach!  

It is absolutely essential to focus on teaching the comprehension skills of how to summarize and analyze so that your kids can begin to think critically about text. 

For more help and tips on how to help students think critically about what they are reading please check out our book:

Books can be found at amazon.com jackson-consulting.com/buy-stuff/

Comprehension vs. Critical Thinking | For Teachers

Three Steps for Differentiating Comprehension | For Teachers

Over the next few weeks we’re going to be doing a mini-series all about reading comprehension and critical thinking. Let’s start by talking about three steps for differentiating comprehension:

  1. Make sure that your kids don’t have a reading issue! Kids will no doubt struggle with comprehension if they don’t know how to decode words or read multisyllabic words.
  1. Make sure your kids have basic comprehension skills – without them, they won’t be able to get fancier in their thinking. There are FIVE fundamental skills to improve and assess reading comprehension:
    • Recall: can they remember what approximately happened 
    • Retell: can they retell the story in their own words
    • Summarizing: can they write about what they read
    • Note-taking: can they take notes while read to enhance their understanding
    • Analysis: can they think about the reading and make connections, draw conclusions, and connect to their lives

If kids do not know how to do these five things, you must explicitly teach these skills to improve comprehension. 

  1. Look at your content. Kids will comprehend and critically think about content specifically. If you see that some kids can think deeply about history content but they’re struggling in science, that is a content related issue.You need to spend more time on your content, teaching the skills to understand that specific content.

For more help and tips on how to help break down the steps of comprehension for your students please order the following book:

Books can be found at amazon.com jackson-consulting.com/buy-stuff/

Comprehension vs. Critical Thinking | For Teachers

How to Stop Dragging Home Writing to Grade | For Teachers

Stop bringing home writing to grade and then taking it back to school untouched! Today I want to encourage you to think differently about how to go about grading kids’ writing.

Here’s how: 

  1. Grade ONE thing at a time. If you’re working on writing an introduction, just grade the introduction. 
  1. Practice giving feedback on ONE thing at a time. Only give feedback on the thing you’re working on. If you’re working on writing a thesis statement, then only give feedback on that! Kids cannot handle tons of feedback on an entire essay all at the same time. 
  1. Practice writing ONE thing at a time. If you’re working on writing an introduction, have kids write five introductions before they actually start writing the rest of the essay. 

What you’ll realize is that by focusing on each little piece as you go along, you will end up with a mastered piece of essay writing! The kids won’t be stuck on individual skills because they’ve learned to master it as they go. 

For more help and tips on how to improve your teaching practice, please check out our books. They can be found at amazon.com or at jackson-consulting.com/buy-stuff/

Comprehension vs. Critical Thinking | For Teachers

Teach to the Last Day of School | For Teachers & Principals

Have you ever felt like around this time of year, you’re ready to pack it in early? You think, “Gosh, I’m exhausted. Testing is done. We’re heading (really slowly!) toward the end of the year, maybe I can just be done.”

I felt the exact same way! But what I realized is that when I focused too much on being “done,” I was giving up an opportunity to intervene with kids who needed it the most. 

If I stopped teaching in mid-April, or just slowed up a little bit, then it would be April, May, and then June, July, and August, nearly FIVE months that kids would be missing instruction by the time the next year rolled around.

And then I would start to see more and more students showing up to the next school year barely knowing what was going on. I started to realize that this problem was partially my responsibility.

So here is my encouragement to you: Start to see teaching to the end of the year as an intervention for the kids who need it the most. Remind yourself that those last difficult but precious weeks are giving them one last boost they need to head into the summer months so that you can better prepare them for the next school year.

For help on how to stay organized until the very last day of school, pick up a copy of:

Books can be found at amazon.com jackson-consulting.com/buy-stuff/

Comprehension vs. Critical Thinking | For Teachers

Three Ways to Mess Up Good Instruction | For Teachers

Today we are diving into three ways that teachers can mess up really good instruction. 

  1. Mistaking routine for being boring. Kids will learn and master skills when they are practiced over and over again. Don’t mistake routine for boring teaching!
  1. Teachers have really good lessons, and then junk it up with things that don’t have academic value. Make sure that everything you’re doing in class has academic value. Don’t fluff it up! It’s not necessary.
  1. Lastly, teachers don’t ever release the practice over to kids. Teaching becomes a “Sage on the Stage” situation where the teacher does all the work and kids never get to practice. We’ve got to fix that! 

Often we don’t even notice when we are getting in our own way. Hopefully, by looking at our instruction we can keep these in the forefront of our mind the next time we are with students.

For more help and tips on how to get to the meat of teaching and keep working towards great instruction check out all of our books! Books can be found at amazon.com or by clicking here.

Comprehension vs. Critical Thinking | For Teachers

What I Wish I Had Taught my Students | For Teachers

Have you ever felt like you wanted to apologize to your past students for what you didn’t know how to do when you were a newer teacher?? I certainly do! So, in lieu of trying to find my thousands of past students to apologize, I’m going to pay it forward by giving you the information I wish I had back then.

I wish I’d told my kids that authors set up texts in a way that highlights the most important information. Then, I would have given my students some clues as to how to find it: 

  1. Look at the dialogue. The author usually uses dialogue to give the most important information.
  2. Look for repeats. The author usually repeats information again and again. That is the most important information.
  3. Want to find out where the thesis is? Look at the last sentence or last two sentences of the first paragraph, it’s usually found there.

These are the kinds of tools we need to arm our kids with so they can take a piece of text, break it down, and fully understand it. 

If you found this helpful, and want more tips to dig deeper into this work better unpack this for your students, check out these books:

  • How to Teach Students to Write Informational Text
  • How to Teach Students to Think Critically about Text

Books can be found at amazon.com or by clicking here.