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Critical Thinking Portfolio

Kendra Anderson

Table of Contents
Page 3 10 11 13 14 17 18 20 Title Elements of Reasoning Definitions of Critical Thinking Critical Thinking Strategies Critical Inquiry Questions SEE-I for Intellectual Standards Intellectual Standards Rubric Current Event Lesson Plan

Elements of Reasoning in English Language Arts

Purpose of English Language Arts The purposes of English Language Arts are to improve the fluency of communication, and to foster an appreciation for the significance and artistry of literature (Alberta Education 1). These are achieved by examining smaller and more specific goals. Fluency of communication is addressed by focusing on development of language arts skills. All of the language arts are interrelated and interdependent; facility in one strengthens facility in others (2). The language arts are: reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing and representing. Language arts seeks to develop each of this skills in order to increase literacy and refine communication. Appreciation for literature is developed through exposure to different genres and forms of text. Close readings and analysis of text or characters helps to strengthen appreciation for literature. Consideration of social, political and personal contexts helps to further strengthen appreciation for literature. English language arts seeks to find value, meaning and enjoyment in literature. Question at Issue in English Language Arts Language Arts leaves ample room for asking questions. The two main questions related to the two main goals are: how do we improve the fluency of communication; and what is the significance of literature? The question, how do we improve the fluency of communication? can be broken into related questions. How do we improve reading (writing, listening, speaking, viewing and

representing) skills? How do we judge the quality of reading (writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and representing) skills? The question: what is the significance of literature? can also be divided into many questions. What is the significance of any particular piece of literature to me (or any individual)? What does this piece of literature reveal about human nature? What is the political or social significance of this piece of literature? What is implied by any given text? Assumptions in English Language Arts One of the main assumptions made in English Language Arts is that language is crucial to other parts of life. Language Arts assumes that without effective communication, we would not be able to share ideas about math or science or any other academic discipline. Furthermore, if we cannot communicate we cannot effectively socialize or interact with other people in any situation. Another very big assumption that is made in English Language Arts is that literature has universal value; some piece of text somewhere will have value to someone. We make assumptions surrounding the quality of literature. We make assumptions surrounding authorial intent. We assume that we can read a text, analyze it and determine what it means. We assume that literary texts are written with a specific purpose. Implications and Consequences of English Language Arts Without any language, we would not be able to communicate with anyone. Nobody would ever tell a story, or watch a movie, or listen to music. Without emphasis on developing language skills and appreciating the artistry of language, the quality of language would probably decrease in all areas. Books may still be written, but they would not be written well.

If we did not read or create literature, a lot of the information we have about the past would be lost. We can learn a lot about what people were like at any time in the past by reading what they wrote. Furthermore, we preserve our present values and culture by writing about them. If we do not utilize language skills, we lose what we know about the past, and we do not have any record of the present. Information for English Language Arts Information necessary for English Language Arts includes knowledge of grammar and syntax. The complex rules and exceptions that the English language is built on must be understood in order make use of language. In addition, information used to identify different genres and types of literature is necessary. (ie. rhythm and rhyme scheme for different types of poems, parts of a short story, etc.) The other information used in language arts includes different types of literature. Often, we do not just study a text, but also consider the background of the author, and the social, political, cultural and personal (authors) context surrounding the creation of a text. It is encouraged to use any and all background knowledge to interpret a text. Concepts in English Language Arts An overarching concept in language arts is that language is everywhere and that it is necessary. People are compelled to communicate. The idea that communication can be beautiful as well as purposeful and meaningful is what drives language arts. There are six main concepts that are related to improving the fluency of communication. They are the six language arts: reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing and representing. Each of these skills can be broken down into more specific language skills.

Concepts presented in literature can be anything from theme identification, analysis of text, and making personal connections. Conclusion and Interpretations in English Language Arts In language arts, we are constantly required to make judgments and draw conclusions. Interpreting literature is a large part of developing appreciation for literature. We read literature to interpret meaning from it. We identify themes, we relate to characters, and we try to understand complex poetry. Language Arts encourages us to consider our own interpretations as well as other interpretations of literature. Conclusions drawn in language arts need not be definitive. However, conclusions must be supported by relevant evidence. Point of View in English Language Arts English language arts is a discipline that encourages us consider ideas from multiple points of view. A text can be considered from a political or social point of view as well as from a personal point of view. It can be considered from the point of view of a character or from the point of view of a hypothetical person at some point in history. Part of what makes a text good is if it is relevant or relatable to more than one type of person; if meaning can be derived from more than one point of view. However, in terms of grammar and rules surrounding how to construct certain types of literature, the point of view is often focused on correctness. Alternatives to English Language Arts

Language is crucial to learning and communication. It is possible to consider that language is only valuable for communication and not for pleasure. It is possible to learn language for the purpose of vital communications and leave out all of the artistic and sentimental ideas included in some texts. Another alternative might be to use a different language. If we were Spanish, or French the literature available to us would be completely different. We might develop the same language skills, but the grammar would be completely different and the texts would be different. Context for English Language Arts Whether a person is skilled at using language arts or not, we use them in everyday life. We speak to our family members when we get up in the morning, we read the newspaper, we write an email or a note, we understand the meaning of symbols on road signs. The context for language arts is life; it is the human condition. It is important when we study language arts to not only consider the relevance of a text to our personal context, but also to the present context on a larger scale. We should also consider the context of the origin of the text. Context helps us derive meaning from a text. Conclusion Critical thinking, learning and language are interrelated (AB Ed. 2). Study of language requires that we use the elements of reasoning. We use language to examine new experiences and knowledge in relation to [our] prior knowledge, experiences and beliefs (2). Language arts
utilizes all the elements of reasoning and encourages critical thinking.

Works Cited Alberta Education. English Language Arts Senior High School Program of Studies. Edmonton, AB: Alberta Learning, 2003.

Nosich, Gerald M. Learning to Think Things Through: A Guide to Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum. 4th. Boston: Pearson, 2012. 50-63. Print.

Definitions of Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is reasonable, reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do. -Robert Ennis (1962)

Critical thinking is skillful, responsible thinking that is conducive to good judgement because it is sensitive to context, relies on criteria, and is self-correcting. -Matthew Lipman (1995)

Critical thinking is a capacity to work with complex ideas whereby a person can make effective provision of evidence to justify a reasonable judgmentIt is a form of learning in that it is a means of generating new knowledge by processing existing knowledge and ideasIt is a multiple tool for the manipulation of knowledge. -Moon (2008)

Critical thinking is making a well-reasoned judgment that satisfies both logic and intuition. -Kendra Anderson (2013)

Teaching Strategies: English Language Arts 1. SEE-I: State, elaborate, example, then illustrate. This strategy is useful in ELA to help students structure their paragraphs for an essay. If they are able to make simple and succinct statements, then elaborate, give an example (and a counter-example where appropriate) then create an illustration or analogy to clarify their point they will be creating meaningful and descriptive text.

2. Reasoning Maps: This strategy utilizes a graphic organizer to visually and logically organize information. This strategy is useful for planning an essay. A reasoning map can help students organize their ideas and evidence logically. Students can create visual connections between concepts and ideas.

3. K-W-L Charts: K-W-L Charts are used to activate students background knowledge about a topic and to scaffold them as they ask questions and organize the information theyre learning (cited in 50 Literacy Strategies: Step by Step, 60) This activity requires students to explore what they already know about a topic, and what they want to know about a topic. Then they can reflect on what they learned about the topic.

4. Double-Entry Journals:

A double-entry journal is a special type of reading log in which the pages are divided into two columns; students write different types of information in each column (cited in 50 Literacy Strategies; Step by Step, 34). This activity can be used to help students think critically about any text they are reading. In one column they record quotations from the book, and in the other column they can elaborate o n the significance of the quotations they chose.

5. SQ4R: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Relate, Review This strategy encourages active reading and advanced comprehension. Students must think critically in order to form good questions. They must read carefully and recite to help them remember. Then students relate what they have read to what they already know about the topic. Students then review their questions and should be able to answer them without referring to their notes.

Works Cited/Consulted Tompkins, Gail E. 50 Literacy Strategies: Step by Step. 4th Ed. Toronto: Pearson, 2013.

Critical Inquiry Questions: Examples of critical inquiry questions for English Language Arts

1. How can we determine what the theme(s) in a novel is? i. What types of evidence can we find to help determine what the theme(s) is? 2. In what way does imagery contribute to the tone and mood of a poem? i. How do we identify and interpret imagery? 3. What influence does conflict have on character development? i. How can we identify character traits?

SEE-I on Intellectual Standards There are seven intellectual standards of critical thinking, they are: clearness, accuracy, importance/relevance, sufficiency, depth, breadth, and precision. Language arts is closely linked with critical thinking; the skills required for critical thinking are also necessary for ELA. Here however, I will only elaborate on four that I think are especially important.

Clearness or clarity refers to the ease with which a text can be understood. Clarity often means short, precise sentences. This is an important skill for students to learn when writing papers, or when making a formal presentation. In formal writing, clearness also means avoiding colloquial speech and slang. For example, if a student understands concepts well and can express their own ideas in a simple and straightforward manner, their writing will be easy to understand and the teacher will be able to assess their knowledge easily. However, if a student cannot express their ideas simply, it is difficult for the teacher to determine whether the student understands the concepts or not. Clearness in ELA is like the glass on a framed picture. If the picture represents a students knowledge, the clearness of the glass determines how well the knowledge can be seen. The picture might be beautiful, but if the glass is dirty it is hard to see. Importance and relevance are slightly different in their definition. Importance refers to anything that has special value to any person. Relevance refers to things that are important in a given context or situation. I will elaborate on relevance. In terms of writing, it can be described as simply as staying on topic. Every piece of writing a student does should have a specific purpose. If the information presented in the writing is important to the purpose of the writing, then it is relevant. It is important for students to learn how to judge whether or not any piece of information is relevant to the question at hand. For example, when writing an analytical essay, only evidence that relates to the thesis statement should be included. The writer should not include opinions or emotions in their

writing. That is not to say that the students opinions or emotions are not important; it just means that opinions and feelings are not relevant to the writing. An example of relevance is choosing a doctor. You would not call a plastic surgeon and ask him to deliver a baby. Although both medical fields are important, depending on the needs of the patient, one doctors knowledge is more relevant than the other. It is like packing for a trip when you can only take one suitcase. You will only bring the items that are necessary for your specific destination. Sufficiency means that there is adequate evidence presented to support a claim. It is the idea of enough. Students must learn to find evidence that is relevant, and they need to learn how much evidence is enough. Sufficiency does not mean that a claim has been proven, it simply means that the reasoning required to arrive at a conclusion is clear. For example, a student may make many seemingly valid claims in a piece of writing, but without sufficient evidence, the claims are not grounded. Sufficiency is like baking; there are different ingredients that you need, just like different claims or observations you can make in a paper. However, you also need to have the right amount of the ingredients. If you put two-dozen eggs and only a cup of flour in your cookie dough, it will not turn out well. You need to have the right amount of each ingredient in order for them to work together well. Similarly, when writing a paper, you need to have the right amount of evidence and information about each topic in order for it to be sufficient. Depth refers to how thoroughly a concept or idea is explored. Depth requires a look below the surface meaning. It can be consideration of a concept from a different point of view, or with a slightly different focus. ELA requires students to interpret texts. Interpretations can be superficial, or they can be thorough and deep. Depth is not the same as breadth. Depth refers to more careful consideration of a specific topic by looking for deeper meanings. Breadth is consideration to related concepts and context to gain a broader understanding of a topic.

Depth is like looking at the ocean. If you just look at the surface you see the waves, ripples and reflections. However, if you put your head under the water and look around you see the fishes, weeds, rocks and corals. When you look deeper you can begin to comprehend the complexities of the topic.

Intellectual Standards Rubric: Critical Essay

2 Errors in sentence structure and/or grammar interfere with clarity of writing. Thesis statement is unclear.

1 Errors in sentence structure and/or grammar make writing unclear. Thesis statement is confusing or absent.


Correct sentence Correct sentence structure and structure and proper use of proper use of grammar grammar allow enhance clarity adequate clarity of writing. Thesis of writing. Thesis statement is statement is articulate and present. clear. Writing is cohesive and information is presented in logical sequence with clear connections to the thesis statement.


Writing is Writing is Writing is not minimally generally cohesive or clear. cohesive and cohesive and Information information most information included is not presented is presented is in connected to the illogically logical sequence thesis statement, sequenced with with connections or the thesis vague connection to the thesis statement is to the thesis statement. absent. statement. Some claims made are supported by convincing and accurate evidence. Writing reflects satisfactory depth of thought and reasoning. Evidence to support claims is weak or inaccurate. Writing reflects adequate depth of thought and reasoning. Claims are not supported by adequate evidence. Writing does not reflect adequate depth of thought or reasoning.

All claims made are supported by Sufficiency convincing and accurate evidence. Writing reflects superior depth of thought and reasoning.


Current Event: Article


Lac-Megantic train derailment: What we know so far I CTV News

Lac-Megantic train derailment: What we know so far

CTVNews.ca Staff Published Monday, July 8, 2013 11:20AM EDT Last Updated Monday, July 8, 2013 6:57PM EDT

The company that owns the train that exploded in Lac-Megantic, Que., says a locomotive shutdown may have released the air brakes that were supposed to hold the 73-car train in place. Investigators have yet to confirm the cause of the accident. Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, or MMA, acknowledged that it does not have complete inform ation about the chain of events that led to Friday s disaster. The company said the governm ents investigation into the derailment has largely prev ented it from completing its own probe. However, company chairman Edward Burkhardt told CTV News Channel that a small fire broke out on the locomotive that had to remain idling in order to maintain brake pressure on the train as it was stopped for the night, 13 kilometres away in Nantes. Based on the information that we have, we have a pretty good idea of what occurred, and that is that this train was parked, being held in position with hand brakes and with an air brake set on the locomotive. All of this was in accordance with our operating rules, Burkhardt said in a telephone interview from Chicago. Burkhardt said firefighters put out the small fire with handheld extinguishers and then shut down the idling locomotive without asking for permission. As the firefighters were on their way back from the scene, they met a company official they had asked to meet them and informed him of what they had done. When the locomotive shut down it was just a matter of time until the leakage of air out of the brake cylinders would allow the brakes to release, and thats exactly what happened, Burkhardt said. SOCIAL MEDIA
Dramatic photos and videos from Lac-Megantic


Explosion, fire and now damage in Lac-Megantic


Burkhardt said a dozen members of company management are at the scene, and he plans to travel to LacMegantic on Tuesday. Investigators are still trying to piece together exactly what happened. But what is known for sure is that the train carrying crude oil was parked and locked down on the tracks in Nantes late Friday night. The conductor left the train and went to a hotel for the night.


LIVE: Updates from reporters in LacMegantic Train disaster highlights risks of oil transport; shipments by train increasing Quebec disaster: Oil shipments by rail have increased 28,000 per cent since 2009 Residents recall terrifying moments in Lac-Megantic train disaster Lac-Megantic: History of a picturesque Quebec forestry town

Around 11:30 p.m., firefighters responded to reports of a blaze on the trains locomotive. Shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday, the train somehow came free and made its way to Lac-Megantic, where it derailed, caught on fire and sparked a number of massive explosions. On Monday evening, Quebec provincial police announced that the death toll so far is 13, with nearly 40 people still missing. The blaze destroyed about 40 buildings and flattened a large section of the town. Its not yet clear what caused the first fire and what role, if any, it may have played in the subsequent derailment. Donald Ross, the Transportation Safety Board s investigator in charge, has said investigators are looking at the state of the train s air brakes and hand brakes, and the engineer will likely be interviewed. According to the BNSF Railway rulebook, widely considered the industry standard, engineers are required to use hand brakes to ensure a train is secure against undesired movement, and the air brake system must not be depended upon to prevent an undesired movement.

PHOTOS The train in question was built by General Electric in 1979 for Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway company based out of Chicago. It was then sold to MMA Railway in July 2007. CTV News has confirmed the train originated in North Dakota and travelled through Toronto and Montreal before the derailment. Investigators from the Transportation Safety Board have managed to recover the train s black box, though officials from the agency have not yet speculated on what might have caused the accident. Transport Minister Denis Lebel said a full investigation is underway and the agency is in contact with MMA. If anyone is found to have contravened any federal transportation regulations we will take immediate steps to enforce those regulations, Lebel told reporters in Lac-Megantic Monday evening.

Searchers dig through the rubble for victims of the inferno in Lac-Megantic, Que., Monday, July 8, 2013. (Ryan Remiorz I THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Current Event: Discussion Who: The people involved in this story are: the train conductor and railway staff, and the people who live in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec. The people affected by this story may include: Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Company executives and employees; friends and family of people living in Lac-Megantic; family and friends of those killed by the incident; friends and family of the train conductor; government officials; and concerned Canadian citizens. What: A train carrying crude oil sustained a small fire. Later that night, the train rolled down the tracks, derailed, caught fire, and sparked many small explosions. At the time the article was written, thirteen people had been killed and forty were still missing. Where: The train was originally parked at Nantes. It derailed in the town of Lac-Megantic which is thirteen kilometers away. Why: When the emergency personnel put out a small fire in the trains locomotive, they had to shut down the engines. The engines control the air-pressure brake system. Once the air had leaked from the braking system, the train began to roll down the tracks. Although the handbrakes were engaged, they did not prevent the train from rolling away. Critical Questions for Further Examination

Who: Who is responsible? What: What could have been done to prevent this? What can be done to help resolve it?

Kendra Anderson Critical Thinking Portfolio

Critical Thinking Lesson Plan: Character Analysis

Lesson Title/Focus Subject/Grade Level Unit

Character Analysis ELA 10 Histories

Date Time Duration Teacher

12 April 2013 52 minutes Mrs. Anderson


General Learning Outcomes: Specific Learning Outcomes: 2. 5.
2.3.1 c. compare choices and motives of characters and people portrayed in texts with choices and motives of self and others 2.3.2 d. describe character and characterization in terms of consistency of behaviour, motivation and plausibility 5.1.1 c. analyze and describe positive or negative portrayals of characters in literature and persons in life, and be sensitive to the feelings of others

1. Students will write a character analysis for one of the characters in the film.

Observations: Key Questions: Products/Performances: Discussion, questioning HOW DO YOU KNOW? What evidence is there to support your interpretations? Analytical Essay



Computers Film Secondhand Lions

Introduction Expectations for Learning and Behaviour This paper must be handed in by the end of class on Monday. If you choose to continue to work on it after that I will not start marking until Thursday, however, I must have SOMETHING by the end of Time


Kendra Anderson Critical Thinking Portfolio

class on Monday. Advance Organizer/Agenda Attention Grabber We are going to discuss characters a little bit, then talk about how to go about writing an essay, then have time to work. Brief review of the film. Body Learning Activity #1 1. Discuss character: Walter What is he like at the beginning of the movie? (insecure, timid, nervous) How does he change? How do we know he has changed? What happens to bring about the change? 2. Discuss character: Garth What is he like at the beginning of the movie? Does he change? What do we learn about him? What happens to change how we see him? 3. Discuss Hub What is he like? Does he change? How do we learn about him? What happens to change him? 4. May What is she like? Does she change? How do we know? What happens to her?
Assessments/ Differentiation:

5 minutes Time

20 minutes

Guide and observe the discussion. Encourage students to make notes. Writing an essay: 1. 2. 3. Always begin with a plan. Look at your notes. Remember the film. What are the most important characteristics of the character you chose? Find evidence to support your observations. 10 minutes

Learning Activity #2


Kendra Anderson Critical Thinking Portfolio

4. 5. 6. 7.

Is the character flat or round? Is the character static or dynamic? What makes the character important to the story? Decide on an logical order for discussing your observations. 8. Begin writing. 9. Make sure your sentences are complete and clear. 10. Re-read and edit.
Assessments/ Differentiation

Learning Activity #3
Assessments/ Differentiation

Work time Circulate, help students, give suggestions. Closure

30 minutes


Assessment of Learning: Feedback To Students Transition To Next Lesson

Observation, essays Graded essays with comments. Ask students to save their work and log off. SAVE. EMAIL TO SELF. MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT HAVE TO START OVER ON MONDAY. 2 minutes