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Guided reasoning activities assistant literacy in America

Teachers generally recognize at least two types of goals achieved in promoting guided reasoning activities among students. The first goal involves students helping to control the intellectual tools of science and use them for intended purposes. As for the second goal, it involves helping students to understand how concepts and theories are developed in scientists’ attempts to explore and understand the world. Teaching towards a second goal has often involved the reduction of scientists’ activities to discrete skills or to a defined sequence of steps.

These approaches to teaching about scientific investigations are problematic because they transform the complex, socially embedded processes of scientific sense-making into traditional school tasks – “bits” of curriculum that can be managed in teacher-centered classrooms. (Langar 1998) However, if the teaching method is devoid of reasoning principles, both in sciences and in humanities, there is a risk that students will automatically answer questions (which are for the most part true-false or multiple choice and therefore narrow even more the space of answering) and will not actually think and make connections between what they learn.

It is all too tempting to cheat or try to guess the answers without reading the material – moreover, if the correct answer can be found in the end of the book. Therefore, several certain advantages of guided reasoning activities active inclusion in the curriculum can be named. First of all, it ensures that students do READ the material, which promotes literacy. Shocking statistics shows that a significant percentage of students read below their necessary level.

In elementary, and sometimes even in middle school, there are cases of total illiteracy, which is simply inacceptable in today’s world and in the country with level of development such as that of the USA. If the students feel they need to read to answer the questions, the volume of material they process by reading will increase dramatically, naturally enhancing their reading skills. In this way more students will be able to achieve higher reading levels and will be motivated to learn even more, as reading helps reasoning.

Still, simple reading is not the only advantage. By doing reasoning activities students learn to read critically – that is, separate facts from “noise”. They learn to see what is really important in the text and quickly read through unimportant passages because they know where to search for the gist, which will be necessary to give an appropriate answer. Another important point is that active usage of guided reasoning in classrooms turns them from teacher-centered to student-centered. It removes the authoritarian image of a teacher who alone “knows everyting”.

Instead, students understand that teacher is only a human also engaged in process of life-long learning, though he has higher social status than they do. Such approach enhances communication and sharing of independent ideas in the classroom while developing analytical thinking and ability to make logical connections. Reasoning activities, when done in an oral form, enhance public speaking skills and abilities to structure one’s speech so that it has the necessary flow and solid arguments. Oral activity becomes especially interesting when it turns into debate, i.

e. the students not only express their points of view but also defend them before others. It also gives an additional stimulus to read more about the topic to find unique information for construction of “unbeatable” arguments. Though debates are more relevant from middle school and up, some elements of this activity can be included for younger students as well to promote their literacy and hone learning skills.

References 1. Langar, J. A. “Envisioning literature: literary understanding and literature instruction”, New York, Teachers College Press, 1998.

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