Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ways to inspire critical thinking with a pineapple (i.e. Let’s think, not bubble)

Chances are that if you have an ear or eye for education, you have heard about the latest standardized testing fiasco playing out in New York. It involves a talking pineapple with no sleeves, a hare, a slew of animal spectators, and a race. Feel free to check out the full story here.

As an educator, one of the techniques I use in my classroom on a regular basis is questioning. I try to get my students to think about the content being discussed and ideas being shared, as well as engage in debates about topics so they can both listen to other’s opinion and develop their own critical thinking skills.  As I read the fable of the “Hare and the Pineapple,” several questions which would support 21st century skills popped into my mind. Of course, questions like this would take time to evaluate because they can’t just be fed to a machine checking bubbles.
  •  How do you think a tropical fruit ended up in a temperate forest?
  • Why do you think the owl did not eat the hare when it is part of an owl’s food web?
  • What other biotic factors might be found naturally in the ecosystem where the race is being held?
  • What time of day do you think the race was held and why? (This certainly takes some critical thinking and explaining since the nocturnal owl is awake and chatting with the other animals.)
  • Why do you think all the animals agree to cheer for the same competitor?
  • The story identifies a moose, hare, owl and crow. Name five other animals that might be present in this environment and explain why.
  • Considering a pineapple is not a regular part of moose, owl, and crow diet, what do you think helped them determine they could eat the pineapple?
  • If you were to write a moral for this story, what would it be and why?
  • And just for fun, let’s imagine this was a huge math word problem. How many miles per hour was the hare running?

The moral of the story as presented: “Pineapples don’t have sleeves.”

If I provided the moral: “If you are stepping out of your native habitat, be prepared to take risks.”

What risks are you willing to take as an educator to help prepare our students for success?

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