Manitoba ASCD Blog

Garfield Gini-Newman on...Creating Thinking Classrooms

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Garfield Gini-Newman and Roland Case have created an strategy packed book, loaded with stories, and examples to reinvigorate today’s schools. The following is an excerpt from the preface of Creating Thinking Classrooms: Leading Educational Change for This Century.


This book is for classroom, district, and university educators who are working to make schools effective institutions for developing all students’ capacity for rigours and imaginative thinking so that they can become healthy individuals, contributing global citizens, thoughtful consumers of media, and adaptable learners who can thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Our goal is to help educators at all levels to understand and respond thoughtfully to the diverse and sometimes overwhelming calls for school reform that currently dominate public and professional attention. These calls are noisy, confusing, and not entirely coherent. We hope to separate the rhetoric from the reality surrounding many of the popular buzzwords and vague claims associated with learning in the contemporary world. In addition, we seek to unpack the widely recommended goals, initiatives, and pedagogical practices that advocates of reform are championing. Finally we propose an approach supported with practical advice to educators in their efforts to navigate the substantial, often upsetting, challenges of educational change.

The most significant contribution of this book lies in its attempt to clarify and bring coherence to the current reform efforts. When distilled to its essentials, this movement represents a desire to shift the educational system in three important ways involving nine core ideas:

  • Shift 1: Reorient the foundational beliefs about teaching and learning from the mindset characteristic of a discovery or didactic classroom to that of a thinking classroom.

  • Shift 2: Refocus attention on more enriched versions of the three traditional educational goals, moving from fostering knowledge to deep understanding, from skills to real-life competencies, and from attitudes to genuine commitments.

  • Shift 3: Align teaching practices with five key principles of powerful learning. These guiding principles are to engage students, sustain inquiry, nurture self-regulated learners, create assessment-rich learning, and enhance learning through digital technology.


Interested to learn more? Click here for a sample first chapter of Creating Thinking Classrooms. Click here to purchase a copy of Creating Thinking Classrooms, or copies will be available on October 4th at the Manitoba ASCD workshop.


Posted by Meghan Burns at 8:42 PM – 0 Comments

Garfield Gini-Newman on...Critical Thinking

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

This article was originally published at

Teachers and 21st century curricula recognize critical thinking as one of the most important educational goals. Yet it can be challenging to embed in everyday teaching. Teachers ask, "What are practical and effective ways to invite critical thinking? How can I use technology to help my students develop critical thinking? How are creativity, entrepreneurial thinking and critical thinking related?" Join Garfield Gini-Newman, Senior National Consultant with The Critical Thinking Consortium, as he explores these questions and provides concrete examples of inviting critical thinking across Alberta programs of study.

Learn more with video clips here

Posted by Meghan Burns at 8:10 PM – 0 Comments

Garfield Gini-Newman on...Inspiring Wonder through Learning and Thinking

Sunday, August 12, 2018

How can schools remain relevant in a digital world? This is a question Garfield Gini-Newman has been asking and looks to answer, based on his work and research around developing critical thinking skills with students. He argues that schools must inspire wonder and help students develop the intellectual tools for deep learning with suggestions on how educators can bring this about to prepare our students for an undefined future.
Garfield Gini-Newman is an associate professor at OISE/University of Toronto and the senior national consultant with The Critical Thinking Consortium. He has worked with thousands of teachers across grades and subjects, helping them to frame learning around engaging and provocative activities and authentic assessments.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

Posted by Meghan Burns at 12:59 PM – 0 Comments

The Importance of being a Critical Consumer of Information

Monday, July 23, 2018

This article was originally published at

The importance of being a Critical Consumer of Information

by: Chris Gamble

The internet is a vast resource filled with excellent information produced by experts and presented in various mediums.  Teachers and students are faced with a daily issue of credibility of the content they consume.  Unfortunately among the many credible sources of information on the internet are white lies, lies and big fat whopping lies.  This misinformation is sometimes hard to spot and I have found that Internet sources for students are often seen as credible simply because they are, “on the internet”.

Michael Schriemer’s video titled the balony detection kit is an excellent review of some general rules to follow when you are presented with new ideas or reviewing your current beliefs and assumptions.

Michael Schriemers list comes from the late Carl Sagan‘s baloney detection kit.

The complete checklist:

  1. How reliable is the source of the claim?
  2. Does the source make similar claims?
  3. Have the claims been verified by somebody else?
  4. Does this fit with the way the world works?
  5. Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
  6. Where does the preponderance of evidence point?
  7. Is the claimant playing by the rules of science?
  8. Is the claimant providing positive evidence?
  9. Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?
  10. Are personal beliefs driving the claim?

I have fallen victim to passively accepting things I have read or seen on-line as well.  Recently I was caught recommending Ted talks to my aunt when she asked me “Who Moderates Ted talks?"  I was shocked, I had not considered this.  I had assumed that it was some system of jurying that occurs to maintain the quality of presenters and verification that their content is of the highest quality.  My aunt called me back on Skype some hours later, she had watched the video I had recommended and then had done some research into the moderation of Ted talks.

As it turns out the site simply lists one person as the owner of Ted Chris Anderson, who is the sole decider of what content appears on Ted. The mediation of the content is only one criticism. See Wikipedia for more information about what controversies and criticisms surround Ted. The issue is not that all things on Ted are not accurate or of value but that there is content that is not either.  As a learner I made a mistake and let my guard down, it is important that I maintain enough skepticism so that I don’t believe everything and yet remain open enough to incorporate new ideas into what I know, to paraphrase Carl Sagan.

The video below is a parody which illustrates some of the criticism of Ted talks.  The onion is [in]famous for this.  There are at least six of these on their website so if you like this there are more available.

What is the danger in our current situation?  Well history tells us that we have been gullible before.  In 1938 Orson Wells broadcasted a radio play “The War of the Worlds”.  Many who caught the broadcast confused the play with reality and perceived the play as a newscast simply because they were accustomed to using the radio to receive news.  I believe that the aura of authenticity in the printed word often pollutes our perception of things we read and assume that they are truth.  I believe that students are even more susceptible to this phenomenon as they see controversy less in the prepared materials that they read in textbooks.

One way to teach about being a critical consumer of information is to use a spoof site like dihydrogen monoxide.  I used this with my class and amalgamated many similar sites supporting the idea that dihydrogen monoxide is a dangerous chemical.  I asked students to research the chemical and rather than look outside the few websites I had put together on my prepared geocities site they were satisfied with the one or two sites I had provided them with.  They created posters and pamphlets and began coming up with plans to “raise  awareness”. A few students discovered that the “chemical” was water but they were in the minority.  The lesson showed my students that you need to be skeptical and that fantastic claims need fantastic evidence.

Every year Google plays in the gullibility of the masses and plants a spoof innovation on it’s website.


The danger of not teaching students to be critical consumers is far greater then not recognizing harmless April fools jokes.  Children we teach today will be the decision makers of tomorrow so if they are willing to believe things without evaluation we are in big trouble.

We need to demonstrate an openness to change and innovation and yet a skepticism that prevents us from hopping on the reform-wagon. I think that educators can take a lesson from medical sciences where ideas are tested for their efficacy then implemented at large.  We need to open up the private teaching spaces and start admitting that there may be better ways to do things in our classrooms. Being critical consumers ourselves is the first step in the right direction.

If you like this contact me on Twitter @csgamble I’d love to hear what you think!

About the Author:
Chris Gamble is Principal of Warren Elementary School in Warren, Manitoba.


Posted by Meghan Burns at 12:37 PM – 0 Comments

Jim Knight on...The Instructional Coaching Cycle

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

This article was previously published by Jim Knight on

Instructional Coaching Cycle

“Coaching done well may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance.” — Atul Gawande (2011)

Atul Gawande’s comment is often used to justify coaching. What people overlook in his comment, however, are the words “done well.” Coaching “done well” can and should dramatically improve human performance. However, coaching done poorly can be, and often is, ineffective, wasteful, and sometimes even destructive.

What, then, is coaching done well? For the past five years, researchers at the Kansas Coaching Project at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning and at the Instructional Coaching Group in Lawrence, Kansas, have been trying to answer that question by studying what coaches do. The result of that research is an instructional coaching cycle that fosters the kind of improvement Gawande describes.

Interested? Click on the link below to access the rest of the article.

Instructional Coaching Cycle


Posted by Meghan Burns at 3:15 PM – 1 Comments