With the 2020 closing of schools, libraries, playgrounds, etc children have been forced to spend a lot of time at home.This has left parents trying to juggle their own schedules to provide educational opportunities for them so that they will not fall too far “behind”. This book of resource materials for parents of elementary and middle school children is not intended to replace or be a substitute for the standard curriculum of the grades. It offers parents resources that promote and engage children’s thinking across various curriculum areas – critical thinking tools that can serve children at whatever grade level and give them a leg up to deal with whatever they will face. This book is a valuable asset to parents and caregivers that will provide some much needed help and information..
Selma Wassermann is professor emerita in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University and holder of the University Award for Teaching Excellence.
1. Opening Minds: What’s the Big Idea?
2. Getting Started
3. Thinking Operations: Those Higher Order Mental Tasks That Engage Minds
4. Introduction to the Thinking Activities: More Than You Wanted to Know
6. Thinking Activities for Pre-and Emerging Readers
7. Thinking Activities for Middle Grade Students
About the Author
Award-winning professor and author Wassermann has spent her career educating teachers. In this book, she shares her wealth of knowledge with parents and caregivers, explaining the importance of children developing higher-level cognitive thinking skills. She understands that parents are their children’s best teachers, and writes, “As parents would contribute to improving children’s reading abilities, so they might consider aiding and abetting what teachers do in classrooms to further children’s intelligent habits of mind.” Opening Minds walks caregivers through thirteen “thinking operations” and provides them with engaging activities for pre- and emerging readers as well as middle-grade students. With Wasserman’s accessible ideas, children can practice higher-level cognitive skills from observing, comparing, classifying, and imagining to hypothesizing, summarizing, interpreting, and problem-solving after simple preparation and guidance from an adult at home. This incredibly useful guide for parents provides essential critical thinking practice to help kids successfully navigate today’s everchanging and challenging world.
During an unprecedented time, as many more children experience home-based schooling, they and their parents face new educational challenges on top of emotional turmoil, and parents have taken on additional roles. Learning to think intelligently necessitates both experience and further practice. Children who function well on low-level cognition are not always able to succeed at higher-level functioning tasks, and in order to grow they must have opportunities for thinking at all levels. The parent’s role is to choose activities that match the development level and interests of their child. Divided into chapters by level, the book is full of ideas for incorporating observing, comparing, classifying, imagining, hypothesizing, and other advanced thinking skills. Sample activities for elementary students include finding similarities and differences between a sea turtle and a fish; creating a hypothesis about how spiders create webs and then testing it; and making a visual model of the circulatory system. This work will prove valuable for teachers and parents with its hands-on activities.
This book is a true gift for parents and children, shining a light on thoughtful pedagogy in an unprecedented and uncertain time. In a world where information is easily accessible and constantly changing Dr. Wassermann creates numerous opportunities for children to develop the strengths and skills for independent thought, creativity, and problem solving. Highlighting the need for flexible thinkers in a complex world, Opening Minds includes an enormous arsenal of practical ideas, easily managed at home and backed by the author’s years of research and experience. Guided by parental facilitation, children of all ages and varying interests will be introduced to wildly diverse activities designed specifically to promote critical thought. Any parent or guardian looking to support a child’s education and intellectual growth will find Opening Minds an invaluable resource!
Opening Minds reflects Dr. Selma Wassermann’s years of experience teaching students of all ages. In these challenging times, families are trying to support their children’s learning. There are limited options available, print or digital workbooks provide ‘fill in the blank’ content. Both occupy students without engaging their minds. Opening Minds provides parents with both the theoretical ‘why’ and the practical ‘how’. Dr. Wassermann’s thinking activities create opportunities for students to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to negotiate their world. Opening Minds’ questions and responses gave me the confidence to teach beyond the workbook. My grandchildren were particularly engaged by the comparison activities. They were focussed, intrigued. Their eyes lit up. And they wanted more.
When I read this book I got really excited about the prospect of helping my grandchildren learn while they are in online-school at home. Helping them with math, English, or social studies is one thing. But using the techniques and exercises in this book I will get to see how their minds work and how they think (or don’t). And over time I will get to see their minds develop as they advance their critical thinking skills. To me, it's that's more interesting and rewarding — it’s exciting — than to see them moving to the next math workbook.
Parents can “become teacher-surrogates in implementing the very essential work of continuing to open children’s minds,” writes education professor Wassermann in this comprehensive guide to filling the gaps created by school shutdowns during the pandemic. She argues that “our long-term survival” may depend on children’s ability to analyze, problem-solve, and innovate. In explaining how to engage and develop a child’s critical thinking skills, she breaks down a dozen “thinking operations.” Observing, for example, helps children make sense of the world, while comparing is a skill that leads to making better judgments. The heart of Wassermann’s guidance comes in the form of hundreds of activities, grouped by reading ability: there’s a list of questions to ask both pre-readers and middle grade students to help them form hypotheses, as well as lists of age-appropriate topics to compare, such as a bear and a pig for the younger group, and TV and radio for the older. [T]his is an informative deep-dive into what makes children critical thinkers.