Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

May 18, 2011

Thinking critically within the bubble:

#Edchat 05 – 10 – 2011 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

Critical Thinking  is a very popular topic on #edchat and the chat was fast paced and crammed with ideas, links experiences and opinions – it was really hard to keep up! So a very special thank you to Anthony Lohse who, despite the pace, has managed to put together an amazing summary which captures the excitement of the chat as well as all the wonderful content that was shared! He is a dedicated and passionate edchatter who, as you will see from his bio (at the end of the post) is also somewhat of an evangelist for our Tuesday chats. Thank you very much Anthony for this great post!

How do we focus on the teaching of Critical Thinking skills in a standardized test focused curriculum?
What a fun topic for me this week (per usual for edchat).  I actually almost missed it as I was running late from a meeting.  Don’t tell my superintendent, but I may have pushed the speed limit a bit in a school vehicle to get to my computer.  
As an administrator for the past 9 years, I have wrestled with this question often.  I feel horrible about focusing so much on the test when I know that focusing on the test probably isn’t what is what our kids need for being better thinkers.   

Many strong opinions were shared during this amazing fast paced hour of learning.  It is hard to argue that critical thinking skills are vital to be taught and what we SHOULD be teaching.  However, it is scary for teachers and administrators to deviate from not teaching to the tests when the system is currently set up with sanctions and penalties for those schools that do not do well on the tests.  It was agreed by many, including me, that great teaching that includes teaching students how to think, rather than what to think, while ultimately produce strong results.  

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

  • We are still in a Standardized Based Assessment World
  • Educators would love to minimize the importance of these assessments
  • Public and politics have driven standardized testing & believe this is the most effective way to measure schools success
  • Can we teach critical thinking and still have success on these tests?
  • If we don’t focus on standardized tests, how do we measure our success?
  • Critical thinking skills can be successful taught with a correlation to high achievement on the tests but patients and trust from those in authority have to be granted
  • Educators have to take charge of public perception and political thinking in regards to standardized testing and what is best for kids
  • Ultimately it is up to us to do what is best for kids and teach critical thinking because it is the right thing to do

Here is a selection of some of the comments: 

@cybraryman1:Topic: How do we focus on the teaching of Critical Thinking skills in a standardized test focused curriculum?

@cybraryman1: “The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think”
@fliegs: If kids learn critical thinking, test scores will follow. #edchat – exactly, well put
@ktenkely: NOT complying with state standards could be cause for insubordination or even dismissal
@tucksoon: Do parents want their children to be critical thinkers or A graders?
@jswiatek  Our district just announced new evaluation system. 50% based on student test scores.
@carneysandoe: Critical Thinking in an Era of Standardization http://bit.ly/l753aE This is a gr8, extremely relevant article!
@davidwees  For the people who argue that standardization helps prepare kids for future employment, I ask, where are the standardized jobs?
@ShellTerrell Don’t focus on the standardized tests…If you get students talking, discussing, creating, etc, they will succeed
@tucksoon my daughter gets all A’s in honors & AP courses but I worry she’s NOT very ‘curious’ because she just does what she’s told
@dianeravitch when we foster environments of critical thinking and questioning, the tests take care of themselves.
@ShellTerrell What support can we offer teachers to take the bold steps not to teach to the test?
@QZLPatriotHawk: How do we prove how effective we r without tests in the short term to the public?
@jessievaz12 I think by definition critical and creative thinking cannot be standardized
@ktenkely I don’t think it’s just conservatives shaping the message. Edu’s have too long allowed politics to shape message.
@CTuckerEnglish: As teachers, we are taught to teach the “whole child,” yet these exams only assess a small part of the child. Hypocritical.
@tucksoon: Critical thinking takes time to develop. Policy makers must be realistic and not expect to see immediate outcomes]
@prlowe91 Some students are not good test takers but that doesn’t mean they have not learned & can apply it
@ShellTerrell: Ideally curriculums should allow students to explore various solutions to problems in collaborative environments
@davidwees: Some of the greatest achievements in history were made by people who did not follow the standard path to success
@cybraryman1 Just wish all tchr/admin were as passionate as everyone here & were allowed to teach/facilitate what children really need to learn
@SidewaysSchool  Pragmatically, I’m of the mind to ignore the tests, focus on engagement and the results will take care of themself

To follow the complete discussion see here  
For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

As ever, there were some great links shared:

@raventech, @nmhs_principal & @pluginsin have to say about “Communicating & Connecting w/Social Media” http://ow.ly/4R4N1  #edchat

@nancyrubin: Critical Thinking – How Do We Get There? http://t.co/cPCpGFm

Critical Thinking in an Era of Standardization http://bit.ly/l753aE  This is a gr8, extremely relevant article! #edchat

@davidwees: Not one of your ordinary lists => 10 Ways to Fight Standardization: http://t.co/6f7VdvR  #edchat #coopcatalyst

@tsocko: Child-driven education will enable kids to think critically AND redefine the standards. http://tinyurl.com/26pgrr7   #edchat

delta_dc:  @ktenkely @cybraryman1 This was an idea I had a few months ago http://t.co/dTi3yVc  and then presented at #edcampDet last week

@juandoming:  Read Psicopedagogía crítica on http://t.co/F2yguhc  .@juandoming #elearning #socialmedia #edtech #edchat #educación #educachat #web20

@cybraryman1: @ThomsonScience My Critical Thinking page: http://tinyurl.com/ygojrl6  #edchat

@ktenkely:  @delta_dc I like it! My answer-start school that doesn’t operate that way. Show them how it can look different. http://t.co/szeXXWh  #edchat

@cybraryman1: There are alternatives to ST. My Standardized Test page has links to them: http://tinyurl.com/43vugou

nancyrubin:  Critical Reading Resources http://t.co/ou9Fh9O  #edchat

@davidwees: #edchat @HHG Every time a parent asks “how is my child doing compared to the rest of the kids in the class,… (cont) http://deck.ly/~cFyQK

@davidwees: #edchat @HHG Happy = relatively easy to measure in terms of emotion. Successful = measured against what. It’… (cont) http://deck.ly/~QVFVA

@nothingfuture: Why grade levels & hour/yr requirements are crazy: http://t.co/xCa7gzO  I think it’s obvious, but the DOE doesn’t. #edchat #bhschat #cpchat

@makeafuture: Is this what you have in mind for 21C learning and the future of education and work? http://bit.ly/l911lW  #bced #edchat

@MattEasley: This is the best advice I’ve had all week! Thanks! RT @kylepace Tips for Twitter Chats: http://bit.ly/kVaabK  #edchat

@cybraryman1: @geraldaungst @domi75P My Learning from Mistakes page: http://tinyurl.com/4qke9y2  #edchat

@johnnybevacqua: Curriculum Reform: The Spark we Need (New Post) http://bit.ly/jv42xI #bced #cpchat #edchat #edreform #abed Will follow

@michellek107: @courosa @davidwees @hhg Define “successful” for me here, please: http://bit.ly/fyj7Un  #edchat

@juandoming:  Critical Thinking – How Do We Get There? http://t.co/YGGnC5x  vía@AddThis   #elearning #mlearning #education #socialmedia #edtech #edchat

@juandoming:  http://on.ted.com/9DGz   Sugata Mitra: The child-driven #education #elearning #soicalmedia #edtech #edchat #web20

@George_Haines: @ktenkely @michellek107 re: Finland– they’re actually behind us: http://bit.ly/h7iZAj  #edchat

@delta_dc: @profhutch Part of problem is we put too much faith in results http://literacygurl.blogspot.com/2011/03/teens-with-axe-to-grind.html

@nancyrubin: Project-based Learning: Why do it? http://t.co/cULgHFh  #edchat

@EnterTheGroup: Developing Awesome Virtual Classrooms: A Case Study http://bit.ly/lGBp9I  #edchat #edtech #iste

@drthomasho: @tucksoon i hope you’ll check out http://blog.LearnStream.info & http://facebook.com/DrThomasHo

My name is @QZLPatriotHawk or better known as Anthony Lohse.  I am a middle school principal and district special education director in a district of about 1000 students in rural Iowa (West Central Valley Schools).  

 I am first and foremost a dad of 3 beautiful young girls (Quinn 8, Zoey 6, and Libby 3) thus the QZL in my Twitter name.  I also have an amazing wife, Heather, who inspires me daily.  Beyond my passion for education, I love watching sports –Go Mavs, Patriots, Hawkeyes and Blue Jays.

 I am very new to this whole technology thing.  I stumbled upon Twitter last summer to follow some of my favorite sports teams and somehow ended up learning daily as a result.  I don’t know the exact day that I found #edchat and all the great educators in my PLN, but that day did changed my thinking dramatically about teaching and learning.  As a result, my staff gets sick and tired of me promoting  SM, technology integration in the classroom, and Twitter.  I was so honored to be asked to write this week’s summary and look forward to participating in many, many more chats and learning from all of you.

 New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 1,000 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat



If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat. 

What do you think? Leave a comment!



  1. Hi!
    I was reading your forum for a long time now and just thought I might wanna get an profile here and comment once in a while.

    Comment by FranyDymn — May 28, 2011 @ 12:13 am | Reply

    • Thank you for your comment. Please feel free to comment away!

      Comment by rliberni — June 1, 2011 @ 11:02 pm | Reply

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