Thursday, August 9, 2018

Creating Critical Thinkers by Andy Jobson


I always try to make my teaching relevant.  As an English teacher, I want my students to read great works of the past, but I also want to equip them to think (and write) about issues that are happening in their world today. That’s where izzit.org is such a great asset. 

My eighth graders read works like King Arthur and Macbeth.  They wrestle with notions of power and corruption, and I can draw in more modern examples like Too Big to Fail or Unintended Consequences: Eminent Domain to help them think through the nature and challenges of governmental power.  At my school, Riverside Military Academy, we emphasize character education, and my students find programs like Three Keys to Success and In the Classroom with David Robinson interesting and informative as they learn more about making good decisions.  As middle schoolers, they enjoy the title of From Poop to Profits, but I enjoy knowing that they’re being reminded of the power of the human spirit to overcome challenges when given the opportunity and flexibility to experiment.  My upper middle-class kids also gain from seeing the challenges other countries face through videos like Victoria’s Chance, Locked Out, and many others.

One of my favorite aspects of izzit.org is that they understand my needs as a classroom teacher.  I love the fact that I can use one of their videos as a small portion of a lesson.  The viewing takes only a small portion of class time, allowing me to focus on the all-important skills of asking good questions, considering various viewpoints, and articulating arguments.  While my boys would typically say they don’t like writing, they don’t mind nearly so much when the assignment deals with an izzit video.

I could go on about the ways I use izzit with my upperclassmen, but I think you get the idea.  izzit is a great friend for educators who care about helping their students see the world; my hope is that they will also ‘Bee the Change’ our world needs.  I can’t say enough in thanks to the many contributors who make this resource possible.  But, like a good izzit video, I wanted to ‘be brief, be bold, and be done!’