Evidence Boards Aren’t Just For Detectives
Erin Guydish Buchholz, PhD
One of Grier School’s goals is to give students skills that prepare them for the next step in their educational, social, and career-based journeys. While part of that includes the more mundane formula of tests, papers, and projects, a key mission of the Grier School’s educators is to create activities that ask students to flex their brainpower and awaken student curiosity.
Critical thinking is a term that appears perpetually in education. But what does it actually mean?! Sometimes it’s misperceived as the ability to interrogate and deconstruct another’s ideas or thoughts. However, this is an oversimplification of a larger skill set. Grier’s faculty works to develop this critical component of thinking, but just as many muscle training regiments consider both pushing and pulling abilities, critical thinking requires flexing the collaborative and connective elements of its construction.
While wrapping up and reviewing characters, concepts, and essential questions regarding Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Dr. Gb’s Honors World Literature classes honed their detective skills. After laughing at the meme of ‘Crazy Hair Conspiracy Man,’ students strove to find as many ways to connect ideas as possible by creating their own evidence board. Not only did they have to navigate the text, but they also had to work with partners to find key pieces of evidence, ‘photos’ and magazine clippings to support their connections, and sticky notes featuring key quotes, phrases, or reactions to the likelihood that the connections made were logical.
In a twister-like gathering that the party game would be impressed with, students tacked their string to various shapes, colors, and sizes representing a variety of concepts from the novel. More importantly, students demonstrated their ability to navigate a consensus-building activity where the evidence led them to conclusions and connections. Although Achebe’s novel is the primary focus in this activity, the community building that it starts is the more valuable end-game. As girls enjoy their time together in this activity and in the conversations it sparks for tomorrow’s class, the true gains here are the connections students make with others as they learn to collaborate and cooperate- carrying that spirit forward from the classroom to all corners of campus.