Many college graduates are able to achieve high grade point averages, complete thesis papers and even prepare amazing presentations; but are not able to successfully compete in the global economic market of the 21st century. Employers are not merely looking for adults who can regurgitate facts and bits of information. They are seeking intelligent, innovative, and solution-driven people who can transform businesses drowning in debt, or can invent marketing strategies to rejuvenate the economy. These are not skills that can be taught using a text book and answering the questions at the end of the chapter. These are skills that are acquired only through explicit, engaging instruction that elicits creativity, collaboration, and reflection.
As part of the transition into the Common Core standards, teachers, if they haven’t already, will need to address the issue of increasing academic rigor in the classroom. Dr. Willard R, Daggett and The International Center for Leadership in Education have recently developed the Rigor and Relevance Framework which builds off the linear progression of student thinking developed by Benjamin Bloom and others. For many years, teachers have known the importance of engaging children in higher-level thinking and have looked to Bloom’s Taxonomy for guidance when setting specific learning objectives. This new model literally expands Bloom’s Taxonomy into a new direction; instead of simply moving vertically towards higher thinking skills, teachers can direct students horizontally towards an advanced level of application.
As new skills are introduced and thinking levels are increased, learners progress through four quadrants of learning.
- Quadrant A is the most basic level where new knowledge is acquired. This quadrant is crucial as it serves as the platform for all other levels, and the knowledge itself must be understood before it can be applied.
- Pupils can then move to Quadrant B where they can apply that knowledge to a real world situation. For example, students can learn to count coins in class and then go to a store and actually buy an item while counting the coins necessary to make the purchase. This would exemplify moving from Quadrant A to Quadrant B because the pupil has clearly applied his learning to a real-world, predictable scenario.
- Moving to Quadrant C, termed Assimilation, would entail a much higher level of knowledge, in addition to connecting that knowledge to other disciplines. For example, extending knowledge of coins towards understanding more complex economic concepts like supply and demand would be characteristic of Quadrant C learning.
- Quadrant D learning, known as Adaptation, requires learners to apply their high-level knowledge in a real-world, unpredictable situation that involves multiple disciplines and has multiple solutions. Teachers may ask pupils to use their knowledge of U.S. currency, and current U.S. economic problems to create a realistic strategy to increase funds for their current school.
Start at the Bottom to Reach the Top
One of the most debated aspects of this type of learning is the assessment component. How exactly does a teacher assign a grade to this type of learning? What does it look like on a report card? Does is align with a multiple choice exam? Although each one of these questions could take years to resolve, they point to one of the most likely reasons that teachers would hesitate to implement lessons that would fall into Quadrant D. However, if each teacher, beginning with kindergarten, began to gradually shift their teaching towards Quadrant D, then by the time the child entered high school, he or she would have already gained a plethora of real-life, applicable skills and much of the process would be mastered prior to high school.
Here are some simple ways that early childhood education teachers can begin to set up learning experiences that will prepare children for Quadrant D thinking in secondary classrooms.
Foster strong number sense by breaking away from the usual one problem equals one answer mold. Try challenging students with questions such as these:
- The answer is 14. What is the question?
- I have 10 pieces of fruit in my basket. Some are apples and some are bananas. How many of each kind could I have?
- How is the number ten similar to the number 100? How are they different?
Build connections between the text and real world experiences. Help young readers see meaning beyond what is written. Teach them to evaluate and question what they are reading, rather than assuming the author is correct. Here are some higher-level comprehension questions for readers of any level:
- What other books does this text remind you of?
- How would you have behaved if you were the main character?
- How would the story be different if the setting were a spooky, rainy evening?
Provide ample opinion/ persuasive writing opportunities. Oftentimes early elementary teachers are focused on the skill of writing rather than the content, which leads to children copying or restating what the teacher has said. Allowing young writers to use kidcode to sound out their own words proves to be a much more valuable thinking skill.
- Convince your mom to let you stay up to watch TV.
- What will the world be like in 10 years?
- If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?
More Learning Activities:
High schoolers will find this English language arts lesson engaging. Teachers can promote Quadrant D learning skills via high-level questions based on evaluation and inferring.
Similar to the game Soduko, pupils can play a version of this classic game by using the numbers 0-9 (instead of Xs and Os) to win three in a row. The object of the game is to make the first two numbers add up to the third. This is a great strategy game for young learners.
Check out this article on the importance of teaching science and using hands-on learning methodologies with young children. Building a solid foundation of science knowledge is also crucial to preparing for quadrant D learning.