What kind of Advanced thinking does WinterPromise encourage?
Five things encourage advances in thinking in the WinterPromise program, and our parents are partners in encouraging growth in these areas. Opportunities for advances in thinking skills are available within the subject matter itself, in proving hypotheses in student assignments, in discussion settings, and in intrinsic program requirements. Here’s the scoop:
SKILLS DEVELOPED IN SUBJECT MATTER: As students learn their subject matter, some of that subject matter in and of itself translates into skills, because they practice those skills as part of the learning. The scientific method, for example. Students may “learn” it as part of their subject matter, but they utilize it and gain skills through learning it, then trying it, practicing it, and understanding it. Students learn a lot of subject matter or content, but there’s always some of it that translate into skills. This is even more true when you are participating in active learning (as in the scientific method example above.) WinterPromise offers a lot of active learning whose focus is educational and practical. Many of these opportunities — or even most of them — require students to draw upon content learning to develop skills and put them to practical use. It is a strength of active learning, at least active learning that is focused on educational goals, not fluffy busywork. That’s what you’ll find at WP. A focus on practical, rich learning.
PROVING HYPOTHESES & LOGICAL ARGUMENTS IN STUDENT ASSIGNMENTS: The proving of a hypothesis and making logical arguments is more commonly thought of as proposing an idea, and setting out to discover whether it has merit or is without basis, then structuring a logical argument. A student commonly proves hypotheses in science, but this thinking cycle infiltrates any discipline where the student must think through why something happened, for example, and support it with examples. This requires students to think through a premise based upon the content they have learned, conduct research, and (hopefully) support their premise with examples. This can be done in language arts in a research paper, or history in a project or paper. As an example, a student could decide to discover why the Mongols were successful at building an empire. From what they have learned, they could feel that their fighting style and their policies in ruling conquered peoples were the reason. As they researched, they would discover their hypothesis was proven correct, disproven, or that is was partially correct, but incomplete. Students can complete this cycle less formally in WP’s notebooking, discussions with parents, narration about choices a character makes and where they will lead, long answers to questions posed by parents, and more. These are all learning situations encountered in WP. It can be encouraged by parents, who guide choices for paper topics, discussions, questions, and narration. For you the parent — ask open-ended questions that require students to draw upon content knowledge, take that knowledge and use it. WP’s entire setup provides opportunity for students to practice these skills again and again. This skill set, like many others developed in a good educational setting, translates in innumerable ways to further education and workplace situations, even ministry.
DISCUSSION SETTINGS: As mentioned above, parents can encourage thoughtful discussion that develops thinking skills in students. Some WP programs offer discussion questions or literature-based discussion in language arts programs. However, parents can really formulate the very best questions, based upon what catches a student’s interest or what the student personally struggles with. Discussions can take place on something a fictional character also struggles with, on why people in history behaved or thought in a certain way at a given time, or on talking through social movements, their ramifications, and more. The possibilities for discussion are limitless.
INTRINSIC PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS: Finally, the requirements of WP’s programs themselves build thinking skills, leadership, and self-motivating learning skills in your students. Many of WP’s assignments require open-ended thinking and defense of answers. This takes place in notebooking and other assignments. Many assignments suggest service or volunteer opportunities that are designed to encourage and grow your student’s leadership skills and allow them to build self-confidence as they create a plan, manage their project, overcome obstacles, and work with others. Parents need to remember these are growth opportunities and encourage students to include some of these types of assignments each year. WP also includes independent study worksheets in most of our themed program guides. These worksheets allow parents to give assignments to students, and, as students move from middle grades to high school, allow parents to require students to complete more and more of their work independently, building the student’s ability to work on their own, and toward self-motivated learning.