Collaborative Critical Thinking at NSCS

By Pam Heintz

Last year NSCS fully integrated the CCT (Collaborative Critical Thinking) Frameworks across all our content areas and throughout all of our grades. We also created opportunities in each classroom for the teacher to explicitly teach critical thinking skills, as well as naturally embedding opportunities throughout the day.

Through the utilization of grade-bands, which take into consideration the mental and developmental capacity of children in each grade, our students are gaining the foundational mechanics and vocabulary of many of the CCT systems.  By the middle of our students’ third grade year at NSCS we begin to overtly layer their learning by introducing many classical elements of speaking, presenting, arguing, and persuading. We do so by practicing civil discourse through formal Oxford Debates and Paideia seminars.

Dr. Donna Robinson and Mrs. Julie Lenocker, developed the Collaborative Critical Thinking Frameworks or CCT, as NSCS has come to refer to them as, and the results have been nothing short of extraordinary.

CCT holds particular interest to NSCS as we were personally asked by Dr. Robinson, professor at Gordon College, to act as the host school for much of her research. For two years, prior to our full implementation of these frameworks, Dr. Robinson, along with her colleague and Mrs. Lenocker, used our two campuses as pilot schools to test and refine their research. Working very closely with these two educators, our students and teachers worked hand-in-hand as we learned how to implicitly and explicitly teach critical thinking skill-sets to our students.

Students are reaping the benefits of having received training in the art of deep thinking, decision-making, and civil discourse. Through the use of graphic organizer templates, debate, and Socratic-type seminars and discussions, our students have been able to gain confidence in both their oral and written expressions and we believe that the students that NSCS produces will be the impactful leaders of tomorrow!