This last month of school, where I am teaching has become an onslaught of testing for both students and teachers. Testing not only occurs at the beginning of the year with a series of post tests and milestones, but at the end of the year with benchmarks, SAT/ACT, EOPAS, and EOCs. (End of Pathway, and End of Course Assessments) I am relatively young in the world of teaching, but I see a clear disconnect from what is being taught at the colleges and what you can teach within the classroom. To sum it up, college teaches inquiry while school systems are stuck in the past. A good teacher is going to bring inquiry based questions into the class regardless of what declarations are being given by the governing education bodies that be.
The new push in the State of Georgia is the DOK or Depth of Knowledge Questioning. There are four different levels of DOK, ranging in different amounts of rigor. Academic coaches and administrators are pushing for constant level three and four questions when giving an assessment. I agree with the DOK style questioning, but not on an assessment that is multiple choice. Multiple choice questioning allows for the student to choose and guess for the right answer. Inquiry style questioning forces the students learn the concepts and processes without the possibility of just guessing. Kids in the classroom are not required to think, let alone they do not want to think.
What kind of teaching strategies do we use to break kids through this barrier, without having to send children to private schools? How do we close the gaps in communities with high populations of low socioeconomic families? As a teacher we do the best with what we have, and who we have. I believe that one of the best ways to promote cognitive thinking within the classroom is for a teacher to be able to relate the lesson to real life events. If you are able to personalize the lesson, and show how it can affect them, I believe you will be able to grasp the students’ attention better. How many times have you heard in the classroom, when are we going to do this or use this in real life? I do admit that there were some cases in my physical science class that I couldn’t relate, because the student would need to become a chemist, but when dealing with topics such as physics and energy, I had plenty examples. The main point is that, yes, cognitive teaching is important, but it must be done correctly, and the teacher must be allowed to teach in that method without administration or political red tape.