Category: Critical thinking
phdast7 posted 4 years ago
My apologies, but I think the high school and college teacher needs to avoid such broad sweeping questions (very few students nowadays - and I see them in my classes all the time - are ready for such questions). I think you have to start small demonstrating and teaching individual skills and components of critical thinking, and do it every week gradually increasing the difficulty.
First you introduce "point of view" to the class. how there are multiple points of view and each person's situation and life experience affects their point of view. ASnd some points of view are more valid than others - we give more weight to the jury member who heard all the trial testimony that we do to the average Jo or Jean, who simply read newspaper summaries of the trial.
Then you discuss the vast difference between facts educated guesses or presumptions, and personal emotion based opinions, working with them until they can consistently recognize the difference. I would introduce short pieces of good writing, editorials, essays, letters to the editor, etc to illustrate the differences.
Introduce an argument and how you build an argument. What kind of evidence is needed? How do we know which evidence to rely upon? How do we verify evidence? Is one opinion, no, are two "undocumented" opinions on the inetrnet sufficient? Why do we foot note? Why do we use citations? How do we find reputable, solid sources, internet or library? All of these are part of critical thinking.
Discuss bias, what it is, what kinds there are, how to recognize it, whom to trust. This a good place to talk about objective versus subjective statements, ideas, arguments, speeches, etc. Mention that human beings can never be totally objective, but being as objective as possible and being aware of, and admittint to, one's own subjective tendencies is very important.
I could go on and on, but I won't. But I will say that I think American educators are for the most part doing a pretty awful job of teaching critical thinking. and our students have spent years focusing on anything and everything but critical thinking.
I would find a very, very simple book on critical thinking and I would go through it slowly and bit by bit build in my students the skills they need to think carefully, thoughtfully, and critically. Perhaps changing the future of America for the better.
I know I am leaving lots of important things out, but all my notes are in folders in my office; this is off the top of my head and I would love for others to add to it. to describe the components and skills they think are essential to critical thinking. Thanks.
I always get accused of being pedantic when I talk about how Aristotle's Rhetoric is the greatest book ever written, and your point is exactly why.
The value of critical thinking isn't just to get through school or figure out whether an advertisement or article or some politicians argument is total B.S.--although that's a nice side benefit. It's about the pursuit of truth and the solving of problems for everyone.
A populace capable of critical thinking is a populace that can work together and solve problems.
Critical thinking takes a lot of effort though. Not sure that's going to be popular in a Pop Tart, YouTube, Twitter world. Hard to ferret out truth in 140 characters.
phdast7 posted 4 years ago in reply to this
No, 140 characters won't do it. Thanks for your response. Somehow we have to reintroduce critical thinking into the mainstream of education.
I think younger children (maybe up to 15) can be taught only the very, very basics of critical thinking. The logical, reasoning centers of the brain don't develop until much later and they simply aren't capable of learning more than that.
By high school, though, students need to begin learning more. Given the ability to reason critically, they can "debunk" the trash that some adults shove at them all by themselves; without it they simply take it in because, after all, adults are the teachers.
No, teachers should not become parents and should not be charged with raising their students (although they increasingly are). They do. however, need to teach their students how to reason and solve problems. That is exactly why they are there; not only to give facts and figures, but to teach students how to think.
That is, after all, the largest accomplishment of colleges; to teach students to think and reason. Stuffing them with knowledge is important, but all that knowledge isn't nearly as valuable as knowing how to reason.
phdast7 posted 4 years ago in reply to this
wilderness - I couldn't agree with your response more. I wish I had expressed myself originally as eloquently as you just did. To me there is a point when information or knowledge is insufficient but hen reasoned judgements need to be made - to me reasoning properly and thoughtfully is the very CORE of critical thinking. Thank you for weighing in on this issue.
phdast7 posted 4 years ago in reply to this
I am not quite sure what you mean by young people being used as guinea pigs. And I don't see how or why critical thinking skills have to or even should be used to solve "political or world problems?" Not with high school students.- you are right, that is presenting inappropriate adult problems to young people. and we should not be doing that.
I think of critical thinking as basic skills of interpreting information, thinking carefully about what one hears and reads before one accepts it blindly. There are a lot of information sources vying for our children's and grand-children's attention and I don't think most of them have the skills to decipher good information from bad.
I do not think teachers should be raising children, but that is not at all what I had in mind. And I don't know what Obama said, but I ahve heard that comment before. "Children today know far more than their parents did. First, I don't believe that. Second what is usually meant is that they have been exposed to more pies of raw information that we were. OK, but raw data does not make for understanding, intelleigence, judgement, or common sense. alll things that I think previous generations have had more of. your generation and mine. we may even be the same generation, I don't know.
One of the biggest criticisms of multiple choice questions is that they only test factual knowledge. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can also use multiple choice questions to assess higher-order thinking.Higher Order Thinking in a Nutshell
Higher order thinking goes beyond memorizing and recalling facts and data. It even goes beyond comprehension. Higher-order thinking refers to cognitive processes that involve analytical, critical or creative thinking.
The concept is based on various learning taxonomies. In Bloom’s taxonomy, for example, higher order thinking includes application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. In Anderson’s updated version of Bloom’s taxonomy, it involves application, analysis, evaluation and creating.
Because test items must be aligned with learning objectives, you’ll need to include higher-order thinking skills from the start. And yes, these may be better measured through open ended questions, essays and discussions. But if you find yourself needing to use multiple choice tests as a necessity, you can make the best of this situation with these three approaches.1. Real-world Scenarios
One of the best ways to promote and assess higher-order thinking is to use scenario-based questions, particularly ones that simulate real work experiences. The sample question pairs below demonstrate how to transform a question from the simple recall to a higher-order thinking skill using the scenarios approach. Note: Only the question stems are shown. Assume there are multiple choice options beneath each question.
Before: What symbol does a formula always start with in Excel?
After: If you want to total the first ten data cells in column B, which one of the following formulas should you use?
Before: What is the first concern of an emergency worker?
After: You arrive at the scene of an accident where people are panicked and yelling. Three people appear to be injured. What action will you take first?
Before: When writing a CSS style sheet, what property is used to position an element to the left or right?
After: How will the text and photo be aligned using the code below?
You can also assess critical thinking skills by asking learners to analyze or interpret information from visuals, which are provided as part of the question stem or the answer choices. In many cases, visuals such as job aids, diagrams and graphs simulate workplace tasks. See a few examples below. Note: Assume there are multiple choice options beneath each question and that visuals are displayed.
Before: What are the components of a computer’s video system? (Select all that apply.)
After: Using the repair flowchart shown here, what should you check if the monitor stops working?
Before: Choose the best definition of rate card.
After: Using the rate card, what is the best time for a customer in the United States to make an international call to Brazil?
Before: Which country has the largest population?
After: What does this graph predict about world population in the year 2020?
Before: Select the best definition of active listening .
After: Which video best demonstrates active listening during a call with an irate customer?3. The Answer Plus The Reason Why
A third approach to measuring critical or creative thinking is to ask learners to synthesize what they’ve learned into an explanation. Although these test items are more difficult to write, they can be quite satisfactory for assessments. The possible responses include the answer and then a variety of reasons that support the answer. Of course, only one reason is logical and correct, based on the knowledge and skills being assessed.
Before: What are three signs of edema?
After: A patient entered the hospital with edema of both lower extremities. What action should the nurse take and why?
Before: Select the most effective tone for writing technical documentation.
After: Select the paragraph and reasoning that best demonstrate how to start a technical document.
Before: Name three qualities of effective entrepreneurs.
After: Review the financials of these three startup companies. Which one would you invest in and why?
If you have additional ways to measure higher-order thinking in multiple choice questions, please share them below. Also see 10 Rules for Writing Multiple Choice Questions for ways to make your tests more accurate and error-free.
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Writing a good multiple choice question is a difficult task starting at grade K and continuing all the way through adult learning. Just for fun, I goggled “How to cheat at Multiple Choice Questions” and found 3,590,000 hits. The top ones included: “when in doubt choose c” and “all of the above” is usually the correct answer.
I found your post very helpful when thinking about writing multiple choice questions. The scenario option is perfect for the instructional designer. It seems as if it will almost write itself.
I took a stab at a before and after.
Before: What is the best app to use to find the definition of a word?
b) webster word of the day
c) color dictionary
After: Your students are reading “The Whirligig” by Paul Fleischman and come across the word “inadvertently”. What is the best way for them to find the definition on their tablet?
a) look at dictionary.com
b) open the app “Webster word of the day”
c) use the “color dictionary” app
I believe that as an Instructional Designer assessment will be the most difficult part of our job. It will be easy to design a course and sit back and marvel at our work. The real “test” will be in the “tests” and the more authentic we can design them the better we will be.
Dick Johnson says
The questions should be written very generally (“Which alternative(s) is/are correct regarding [subject]-“) Then all the logic should be in the alternatives. Yes, it’s a pain then to come up with 4-5 alternatives that not all are correct, BUT all make sense to a student – IF the student hasn’t studied the subject well enough.
And of course one should always use “multiple answers” of the quiz making tool has this implemented in a smart way.
I think your advice is sound as long as we avoid the appearance of “tricking” the student and that the test questions are tied to the original learning objectives. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.
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This course emphasizes knowledge and skills that will enable students to understand media communications in the twenty-first century and to use media effectively and responsibly. Through analyzing the forms and messages of a variety of media works and audience responses to them, and through creating their own media works, students will develop critical thinking skills, aesthetic and ethical judgment, and skills in viewing, representing, listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Unit Titles and Descriptions
In the opening sequence of the unit, students will explore the Five Key Concepts of Media. Students will apply their knowledge in a series of tasks that explore each of the key concepts. Students will also learn about the media triangle and apply it to a media text of their choice.
This unit explores the strategies and techniques of the advertising world and how to be an aware and critical consumer of advertisements. Students will apply their critical skills in deconstructing ads and will design their own advertising campaign around a chosen social message.
This unit explores the fast and immense impact that social media like Facebook and Twitter have had on the way we work, the way we think, the way we mobilize politically, and ultimately on the way we live.
For the final assessment students will create a brand and design a multi-media advertising campaign that applies the theories and concepts explored throughout the course. The final project is worth 30% of the student's final grade.
Metacognition: demonstrate an understanding of their growth as media consumers, media analysts, and media producers.Teaching & Learning Strategies:
Students are exposed to a variety of genres throughout the course and develop skills to analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of texts which may include poems, short stories, novels, non-fiction texts, plays, videos, and songs or other media texts from a wide range of cultures and time periods. Students identify and use various strategies including building vocabulary, learning to understand and use features and organization of texts, and developing knowledge of conventions. Throughout the course, students develop into stronger readers, writers, and oral communicators while making connections to the workplace and international events.
Teachers differentiate instruction to meet the diverse learning needs of students. Instructors also use electronic stimuli including Discussion Boards, ePortfolio, and Dropbox to assist students in reflecting on their learning, and in setting goals for improvement in key areas while developing 21st century skills. These tools facilitate and support the editing and revising process for students as they create texts for different audiences and purposes.
Our theory of assessment and evaluation follows the Ministry of Education's Growing Success document, and it is our firm belief that doing so is in the best interests of students. We seek to design assessment in such a way as to make it possible to gather and show evidence of learning in a variety of ways to gradually release responsibility to the students, and to give multiple and varied opportunities to reflect on learning and receive detailed feedback.
Growing Success articulates the vision the Ministry has for the purpose and structure of assessment and evaluation techniques. There are seven fundamental principles that ensure best practices and procedures of assessment and evaluation by Virtual High School teachers. VHS assessments and evaluations,
For a full explanation, please refer to Growing Success .The Final Grade:
The evaluation for this course is based on the student's achievement of curriculum expectations and the demonstrated skills required for effective learning. The final percentage grade represents the quality of the student's overall achievement of the expectations for the course and reflects the corresponding level of achievement as described in the achievement chart for the discipline. A credit is granted and recorded for this course if the student's grade is 50% or higher. The final grade will be determined as follows:
Student achievement will be communicated formally to students via an official report card. Report cards are issued at the midterm point in the course, as well as upon completion of the course. Each report card will focus on two distinct, but related aspects of student achievement. First, the achievement of curriculum expectations is reported as a percentage grade. Additionally, the course median is reported as a percentage. The teacher will also provide written comments concerning the student's strengths, areas for improvement, and next steps. Second, the learning skills are reported as a letter grade, representing one of four levels of accomplishment. The report card also indicates whether an OSSD credit has been earned. Upon completion of a course, VHS will send a copy of the report card back to the student's home school (if in Ontario) where the course will be added to the ongoing list of courses on the student's Ontario Student Transcript. The report card will also be sent to the student's home address.Program Planning Considerations:
Teachers who are planning a program in this subject will make an effort to take into account considerations for program planning that align with the Ontario Ministry of Education policy and initiatives in a number of important areas.Planning Programs for Students with Special Education Needs
Virtual High School is committed to ensuring that all students, especially those with special education needs, are provided with the learning opportunities and supports they require to gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to succeed in a rapidly changing society. The context of special education and the provision of special education programs and services for exceptional students in Ontario are constantly evolving. Provisions included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code have driven some of these changes. Others have resulted from the evolution and sharing of best practices related to the teaching and assessment of students with special educational needs.
Virtual High School pays particular attention to the following beliefs: (1) all students can succeed, (2) each student has his or her own unique patterns of learning, (3) successful instructional practices are founded in evidence-based research, tempered by experience, (4) an open and accessible learning environment with differentiated instruction are effective and interconnected means of meeting the learning or productivity needs of any group of students, (5) classroom teachers are the key educators for a student's literacy and numeracy development, (6) classroom teachers need the support of the larger community to create a learning environment that supports students with special education needs, and finally, (7) fairness is not sameness.
The provision of special education programs and services for students at Virtual High School rests within a legal framework The Education Act and the regulations related to it set out the legal responsibilities pertaining to special education. They provide comprehensive procedures for the identification of exceptional pupils, for the placement of those pupils in educational settings where the special education programs and services appropriate to their needs can be delivered, and for the review of the identification of exceptional pupils and their placement.
If the student requires either accommodations or modified expectations, or both, then Virtual High School will take into account these needs of exceptional students as they are set out in the students' Individual Education Plan. The online courses offer a vast array of opportunities for students with special educations needs to acquire the knowledge and skills required for our evolving society. Students who use alternative techniques for communication may find a venue to use these special skills in these courses. There are a number of technical and learning aids that can assist in meeting the needs of exceptional students as set out in their Individual Education Plan. In the process of taking their online course, students may use a personal amplification system, tele-typewriter (via Bell relay service), an oral or a sign-language interpreter, a scribe, specialized computer programs, time extensions, ability to change font size, oral readers, etc.
Accommodations (instructional, environmental or assessment) allow the student with special education needs access to the curriculum without changes to the course curriculum expectations. The IEP box on the student's provincial report card will not be checked in this circumstance. The student is eligible for the credit.
Students having modified curriculum expectations reflected in their IEP, will have either an increase or decrease in the number of curriculum expectations. These modified expectations represent measurable goals of the knowledge or skills to be demonstrated by the student using appropriate assessment methods. The principal will determine whether achievement of the modified expectations constitutes successful completion of the course, and will decide whether the student is eligible to receive a credit for the course.Program Considerations for English Language Learners
This Virtual High School online course provide a number of strategies to address the needs of ESL/ELD students. This online course must be flexible in order to accommodate the needs of students who require instruction in English as a second language or English literacy development. The Virtual High School teacher considers it to be his or her responsibility to help students develop their ability to use the English language properly. Appropriate accommodations affecting the teaching, learning, and evaluation strategies in this course may be made in order to help students gain proficiency in English, since students taking English as a second language at the secondary level have limited time in which to develop this proficiency. Virtual High School determines the student's level of proficiency in the English Language upon registration. This information is communicated to the teacher of the course following the registration and the teacher then invokes a number of strategies and resources to support the student in the course. On a larger scale, well written content will aid ESL students in mastering not only the content of this course, but as well, the English language and all of its idiosyncrasies. Virtual High School has created course content to enrich the student's learning experience. Many occupations in Canada require employees with capabilities in the English language. Enabling students to learn English language skills will contribute to their success in the larger world.Environmental Education
Helping students become environmentally responsible is a role assumed by Virtual High School. The first goal is to promote learning about environmental issues and solutions. The second goal is to engage students in practicing and promoting environmental stewardship in their community. The third goal stresses the importance of the education system providing leadership by implementing and promoting responsible environmental practices so that all stakeholders become dedicated to living more sustainably. Environmental education teaches students about how the planet's physical and biological systems work, and how we can create a more sustainable future. Good curriculum design following the resource document - The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9-12: Environmental Education, Scope and Sequence of Expectations, 2011, will assist Virtual High School staff to weave environmental education in and out of the online course content. This ensures that the student will have opportunities to acquire the knowledge, skills, perspectives and practices needed to become an environmentally literate citizen. The online course should provide opportunities for each student to address environmental issues in their home, in their local community, or even at the global level.Healthy Relationships
Every student is entitled to learn in a safe, caring environment, free from violence and harassment. Students learn and achieve better in such environments. The safe and supportive social environment at Virtual High School is founded on healthy relationships between all people. Healthy relationships are based on respect, caring, empathy, trust, and dignity, and thrive in an environment in which diversity is honoured and accepted. Healthy relationships do not tolerate abusive, controlling, violent, bullying/harassing, or other inappropriate behaviours. To experience themselves as valued and connected members of an inclusive social environment, students need to be involved in healthy relationships with their peers, teachers, and other members of the Virtual High School community.
The most effective way to enable all students to learn about healthy and respectful relationships is through the school curriculum. Virtual High School teachers can promote this learning in a variety of ways. For example, they can help students develop and practise the skills they need for building healthy relationships by giving them opportunities to apply critical-thinking and problem solving strategies and to address issues through group discussions, role play, case study analysis, and other means. Virtual High School can also have a positive influence on students by modelling the behaviours, values, and skills that are needed to develop and sustain healthy relationships, and by taking advantage of “teachable moments” to address immediate relationship issues that may arise among students.
At Virtual High School, all staff strive to create a climate of cooperation, collaboration, respect, and open-mindedness. These attitudes and attributes enable our students to develop an awareness of the complexity of a range of issues. Moreover, in examining issues from multiple perspectives, students develop not only an understanding of various positions on these issues but also a respect for different points of view. Virtual High School students will hopefully develop empathy as they analyse events and issues from the perspectives of people all over the world. These attitudes and attributes provide a foundation on which students can develop their own identity, explore interconnectedness with others, and form and maintain healthy relationships.Equity and Inclusive Education
The Virtual High School equity and inclusive education strategy focuses on respecting diversity, promoting inclusive education, and identifying and eliminating discriminatory biases, systemic barriers, and power dynamics that limit the ability of students to learn, grow, and contribute to society. Antidiscrimination education continues to be an important and integral component of this strategy.
In an environment based on the principles of inclusive education, all students, parents, caregivers, and other members of the school community - regardless of ancestry, culture, ethnicity, sex, physical or intellectual ability, race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, or other similar factors - are welcomed, included, treated fairly, and respected. Diversity is valued, and all members of the Virtual High School community feel safe, comfortable, and accepted. Every student is supported and inspired to succeed in a culture of high expectations for learning. In an inclusive education system, all students see themselves reflected in the curriculum, their physical surroundings, and the broader environment, so that they can feel engaged in and empowered by their learning experiences.
Virtual High School can give students a variety of opportunities to learn about diversity and diverse perspectives. By drawing attention to the contributions of women, the perspectives of various ethno-cultural, religious, and racial communities, and the beliefs and practices of First Nations, Mêtis, and Inuit peoples, teachers enable Virtual High School students from a wide range of backgrounds to see themselves reflected in the curriculum. It is essential that learning activities and materials used to support the curriculum reflect the multicultural nature of society that is Canada. In addition, Virtual High School differentiates the instruction and assessment strategies to take into account the background and experiences, as well as the interests, aptitudes, and learning needs, of all students.Financial Literacy Education
Financial literacy may be defined as having the knowledge and skills needed to make responsible economic and financial decisions with competence and confidence. Since making financial decisions has become an increasingly complex task in the modern world, students need to have knowledge in various areas and a wide range of skills in order to make informed decisions about financial matters. Students need to be aware of risks that accompany various financial choices. They need to develop an understanding of world economic forces as well as ways in which they themselves can respond to those influences and make informed choices. Virtual High School considers it essential that financial literacy be considered an important attribute of a well-educated population. In addition to acquiring knowledge in such specific areas as saving, spending, borrowing, and investing, students need to develop skills in problem solving, inquiry, decision making, critical thinking, and critical literacy related to financial and other issues. The goal is to help students acquire the knowledge and skills that will enable them to understand and respond to complex issues regarding their own personal finances and the finances of their families, as well as to develop an understanding of local and global effects of world economic forces and the social, environmental, and ethical implications of their own choices as consumers. The Ministry of Education and Virtual High School are working to embed financial literacy expectations and opportunities in all courses as appropriate, as part of the ongoing curriculum review process.Literacy, Mathematical Literacy, and Inquiry Skills
Literacy is defined as the ability to use language and images in rich and varied forms to read, write, listen, view, represent, and think critically about ideas. It involves the capacity to access, manage, and evaluate information; to think imaginatively and analytically; and to communicate thoughts and ideas effectively. Literacy includes critical thinking and reasoning to solve problems and make decisions related to issues of fairness, equity, and social justice. Literacy connects individuals and communities and is an essential tool for personal growth and active participation in a cohesive, democratic society. Literacy involves a range of critical-thinking skills and is essential for learning across the curriculum. Literacy instruction takes different forms of emphasis in different subjects, but in all subjects, literacy needs to be explicitly taught. Literacy, mathematical literacy, and inquiry/research skills are critical to students' success in all subjects of the curriculum and in all areas of their lives.
Many of the activities and tasks that students undertake in the Virtual High School courses involve the literacy skills relating to oral, written, and visual communication. For example, they develop literacy skills by reading, interpreting, and analysing various texts. In addition, they develop the skills needed to construct, extract information from, and analyse various types information presented in a variety of media forms. In all Virtual High School courses, students are required to use appropriate and correct terminology, including that related to the concepts of disciplinary thinking, and are encouraged to use language with care and precision in order to communicate effectively.
Inquiry and research are at the heart of learning in all subject areas at Virtual High School. Students are encouraged to develop their ability to ask questions and to explore a variety of possible answers to those questions. As they advance through the grades, they acquire the skills to locate relevant information from a variety of print and electronic sources. The questioning they practiced in the early grades becomes more sophisticated as they learn that all sources of information have a particular point of view and that the recipient of the information has a responsibility to evaluate it, determine its validity and relevance, and use it in appropriate ways. The ability to locate, question, and validate information allows a student to become an independent, lifelong learner.Critical Thinking and Critical Literacy
Critical thinking is the process of thinking about ideas or situations in order to understand them fully, identify their implications, make a judgement, and/or guide decision making. Critical thinking includes skills such as questioning, predicting, analysing, synthesizing, examining opinions, identifying values and issues, detecting bias, and distinguishing between alternatives. Students who are taught these skills become critical thinkers who can move beyond superficial conclusions to a deeper understanding of the issues they are examining. They are able to engage in an inquiry process in which they explore complex and multifaceted issues, and questions for which there may be no clear-cut answers.
Students use critical-thinking skills in Virtual High School courses when they assess, analyse, and/or evaluate the impact of something and when they form an opinion about something and support that opinion with a rationale. In order to think critically, students need to examine the opinions and values of others, detect bias, look for implied meaning, and use the information gathered to form a personal opinion or stance, or a personal plan of action with regard to making a difference. Students approach critical thinking in various ways. Some students find it helpful to discuss their thinking, asking questions and exploring ideas. Other students, including many First Nations, Mêtis, and Inuit students, may take time to observe a situation or consider a text carefully before commenting; they may prefer not to ask questions or express their thoughts orally while they are thinking.
The development of these critical-thinking skills is supported in every course at Virtual High School. As students work to achieve the curriculum expectations in their particular course, students frequently need to identify the possible implications of choices. As they gather information from a variety of sources, they need to be able to interpret what they are listening to, reading, or viewing; to look for instances of bias; and to determine why a source might express a particular bias.The Role of the School Library
The school library program in many schools can help build and transform students' knowledge in order to support lifelong learning in our information- and knowledge-based society. The school library program of these schools supports student success across the curriculum by encouraging students to read widely, teaching them to examine and read many forms of text for understanding and enjoyment, and helping them improve their research skills and effectively use information gathered through research. Virtual High School teachers assist students in accessing a variety of online resources and collections (e.g. professional articles, image galleries, videos, databases). Teachers at Virtual High School will also guide students through the concept of ownership of work and the importance of copyright in all forms of media.The Role of Information and Communications Technology
Information literacy is the ability to access, select, gather, critically evaluate, and create information. Communication literacy refers to the ability to communicate information and to use the information obtained to solve problems and make decisions. Information and communications technologies are utilized by all Virtual High School students when the situation is appropriate within their online course. As a result, students will develop transferable skills through their experience with word processing, internet research, presentation software, and telecommunication tools, as would be expected in any other course or any business environment. Although the Internet is a powerful learning tool, there are potential risks attached to its use. All students must be made aware of issues related to Internet privacy, safety, and responsible use, as well as of the potential for abuse of this technology, particularly when it is used to promote hatred.The Ontario Skills Passport: Making Learning Relevant and Building Skills
The Ontario Skills Passport (OSP) is a free, bilingual, web-based resource that provides teachers and students with clear descriptions of the "Essential Skills" and work habits important in work, learning, and life. Virtual High School can engage students by using OSP tools and resources to show how what they learn in class can be applied in the workplace and in everyday life. For further information on the Ontario Skills Passport, including the Essential Skills and work habits, visit http://www.skills.edu.gov.on.ca.Education and Career/Life Planning
As online students progress through online courses, teachers are available to help the student prepare for employment in a number of diverse areas. With the help of teachers, students will learn to set and achieve goals and will gain experience in making meaningful decisions concerning career choices. The skills, knowledge and creativity that students acquire through this online course are essential for a wide range of careers. Throughout their secondary school education, students will learn about the educational and career opportunities that are available to them; explore and evaluate a variety of those opportunities; relate what they learn in their courses to potential careers in a variety of fields; and learn to make appropriate educational and career choices. The framework of the program is a four-step inquiry process based on four questions linked to four areas of learning: (1) knowing yourself - Who am I?; (2) exploring opportunities - What are my opportunities?; (3) making decisions and setting goals - Who do I want to become?; and (4) achieving goals and making transitions - What is my plan for achieving my goals?Cooperative Education and Other Forms of Experiential Learning
By applying the skills they have developed, students will readily connect their classroom learning to real-life activities in the world in which they live. Cooperative education and other workplace experiences will broaden their knowledge of employment opportunities in a wide range of fields. In addition, students will increase their understanding of workplace practices and the nature of the employer-employee relationship. Virtual High School will try to help students link to Ministry programs to ensure that students have information concerning programs and opportunities.Planning Program Pathways and Programs Leading to a Specialist High Skills Major
Virtual High School courses are well suited for inclusion in Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSMs) or in programs designed to provide pathways to particular apprenticeship, college, university, or workplace destinations. In some SHSM programs, courses at Virtual High School can be bundled with other courses to provide the academic knowledge and skills important to particular economic sectors and required for success in the workplace and postsecondary education, including apprenticeship training.Health and Safety
In order to provide a suitable learning environment for the Virtual High School staff and students, it is critical that classroom practice and the learning environment complies with relevant federal, provincial, and municipal health and safety legislation and by-laws, including, but not limited to, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), the Food and Drug Act, the Health Protection and Promotion Act, the Ontario Building Code, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The OHSA requires all schools to provide a safe and productive learning and work environment for both students and employees.
Virtual High School courses provide varied opportunities for students to learn about ethical issues and to explore the role of ethics in both public and personal decision making. During the inquiry process, students may need to make ethical judgements when evaluating evidence and positions on various issues, and when drawing their own conclusions about issues, developments, and events. Teachers may need to help students in determining appropriate factors to consider when making such judgements. In addition, it is crucial that Virtual High School teachers provide support and supervision to students throughout the inquiry process, ensuring that students engaged in an inquiry are aware of potential ethical concerns and address them in acceptable ways. Teachers at Virtual High School will ensure that they thoroughly address the issue of plagiarism with students. In a digital world in which there is easy access to abundant information, it is very easy to copy the words of others and present them as one's own. Students need to be reminded, even at the secondary level, of the ethical issues surrounding plagiarism, and the consequences of plagiarism should be clearly discussed before students engage in an inquiry. It is important to discuss not only dishonest plagiarism but also more negligent plagiarism instances. Students often struggle to find a balance between writing in their own voice and acknowledging the work of others in the field. Merely telling students not to plagiarize, and admonishing those who do, is not enough. The skill of writing in one's own voice, while appropriately acknowledging the work of others, must be explicitly taught to all Virtual High School courses. Using accepted forms of documentation to acknowledge sources is a specific expectation within the inquiry and skill development strand for each course.Online Credits