Critical thinking skills for students
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Program Overview for Logical Thinking Skills

Table of Contents
1. Observations for the Success Model  
2. Empower Students for Academic Enhancement, Purpose  
3. Information area 1: Interest Past and Present  
4. Activity 1. Competencies from Interests activities  
5. Activity 2. Interest from Past and Present activities  
6. Activity 3. Interest List  
7. Information area 2: Competency Identification  
8. Activity 4. Competency Selection Activity  
9. Activity 5. Additional Competency Reference List  
10. Activity 6. Compiling a Competency List  
11. Information area 3: Standardized Test Scores  
12. Activity 7. Work Sheet for Analyzing Test Scores  
13. Information area 4: Interest Inventory  
14. Activity 8. Interest Inventory  
15. Information area 5: Academic Patterns  
16. Activity 9. Analyzing Grades  
17. Information area 6: Community Involvement  
18. Activity 10. Community Service  
19. Activity 11. Summary of Activities 1-10  
20. Resource number 1. Problem Solving  
21. Resource number 2. Motivation  
22. Resource number 3. Learning how to Learn  
23. Resource number 4. Shadowing Employers  
24. Resource number 5. Post High School Resources  

Objectives for "Empowering students for Academic Enhancement"

1.  Promote strong parent/student relationships.

2.  Identify natural competencies/skills for individual students.

3.  Identify career options rooted in student competencies.

4.  Develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.

5.  Understand the role of "passion" in the learning process.  

6.  Develop a competency focused link between the school, parents/student and business.

7.  Develop a short and long term educational plan with the student.

8.  Equip students with individual criteria to research specific careers through shadowing and other resources on the market.

Observations for: “Empowering students for Academic Enhancement”  

1. The parent-student-relationship provides the long term motivation for student learning. The school provides the short term daily motivation by the teaching techniques used and the relationships built between the teacher and student. 

2. Competencies/skills provide the transition language between the needs of business and school instruction. Both need to focus on the competencies/skills needed by the global work community.

3. Students with a logical career theme(s) based on their natural competencies/skills are more likely to have the incentive to set and achieve quality-of-life goals and understand the need for the academic success required to meet those goals.

4. The business community needs to work with schools to:
   a.   Provide knowledge of the competencies needed for current and future international employment 
   b.   Provide the “why” for academic success needed in the world of work.
   c.   Provide mentoring experiences for students through shadowing, E-mail, and other social media            communication.

5. The school community needs to:
      a.  Teach material needed as determined by business needs.
      b.  Use teaching methods  that make learning exciting and relevant.
      c.  Update content and methods annually. 
      d.  Provide ongoing communication with parents through technology regarding:
           i.  Daily assignment
          ii.  Daily attendance
         iii.  Grades
         iv.  Standardized test scores
          v.  Identifying and removing barriers to individual student success
         vi.  Link student to work areas of student interest
        vii.  Student participation in school and community activities
       viii.  Additional issues specific to the parents/student

6. Parents need to:
    a.  Manage the student's academic performance and scheduling.
    b.  Set and monitor homework guidelines for their student.
    c.  Provide motivational incentives and parent caring.
    d.  Provide resources the student needs for learning.
    e.  Intervene when issues are evident.
    f.   Demonstrate the work ethic, attitude and integrity for success.

“Empowering Students for Academic Enhancement”
Managed by the family
C. E. O.

The family, working with the school needs to provide the enviornment and instruction, so the student will improve logical thinking.   Logical/critical thinking, with a good problem solving process, will help the student make necessary life decisions.

The challenge is to use quantifiable cognitive information to enable the student to find what works for him when making decisions. The affect(feeling) side can be used to verify and support the cognitive facts obtained from a clear decision making process. Emotions play a sound, supportive role in making decisions.  Emotions  provide the passion and commitment needed for true success. However, when people make decisions based on feelings with little factual information, their choices often do not work out well. In business, the bases for decisions are based, on extensive content to support the final choice.  Cognitive data becomes the foundation for decisions that require extrapolation and making timely and sometimes risky decisions.  This is a process of making an affect(feeling/instinct) decision based on the best cognitive facts that can be put together.

The primary goal is to use a “natural competence identification process” with several cognitive information sources to allow a student to use logical thinking skills to choose options that  fit the student’s natural interests, competencies and aptitudes. Understanding the role competencies play in identifying logical career options is one objective of this model.

In general, students do not get the connection between competencies, learned in school, and the competencies used to select the best candidate for a job opening. Most students experience  does not extend that far.

It is essential that both the academic and business community use a common language. Competencies/skills need to be that common language.  One important function of the school is to teach the competencies needed for success in the world of work. Business evaluates potential employees on the competencies needed in a job against the competencies the prospective employee is developing. This is a suitable approach for education and business to work together.  Communication between local businesses and the local school system needs to be ongoing. 

The competency discovery process needs to emphasize the importance of honesty, integrity, demonstrating a strong work ethic, and practicing an aggressive/humble balance to build confidence  for success. The student needs to be confident but not arrogant. Learning the "art" of being humble will allow for the proper balance. 

These same values are the basis for business and life success. It is all about people. Just follow the news to see what happens to individuals who do not maintain a focus on these critical values. These values provide the same foundation that need to be nurtured for a positive relationship between the parent and student. The home provides security where the student can risk a choice while knowing he can come back to that safe environment. This is important for the twelve to fifteen year old student because of the  transitions the student is going through. 

If there is logic to the career and other life goals the student identifies, then there is logic for the academic and vocational work needed to achieve those goals. Students in the twelve to fifteen year range need logic and facts that explain “why” their course work is essential. As they get older the affect(feeling) side plays a stronger role. As a parent, it is reasonable to take advantage of what works because of the age span of the student. 

The competency identification process needs to result in choices that expand the awareness of the student and result in what the student genuinely enjoys. Why he might like the choice(s) is not the real issue. Students succeed at what they enjoy or things that fill a perceived need in their life (just like adults). They will understand the process to reach their selected choice(s) even though getting them to act on that knowledge can be a challenge. Acting on that knowledge will often depend on the strength of the parent/student relationship. Students need logic not “this is necessary because I (parent) said so”. There are times when parents have to use the direct approach. This should not one of those times.  

The competency identification process needs to build the self-esteem and the natural creativity that will allow the student to “risk” beyond his comfort zone. When students have trouble making career choices (even in college) they tend to go back to what they know or what makes them  comfortable. This is the time to expand their knowledge of what they could be adept in. They can excel at much more than they are aware of at this age.  Students tend to repeat family patterns.  This is an acceptable age to build on the constructive patterns and downplay the negative. This will require  integrity based communication between the parent and student.

The key is to use logical steps in helping the student make principled decisions. One starting point is exploring career alternatives. This is naturally objective, therefore, less controversial and allows the student to have primary input into the process. If the student can get a sense of priority in the career area, he will realize that he can do the same with relationships and other life decisions.  Parents can play a strong, supportive role with information that the student has forgotten or never processed. It is the parent’s responsibility to manage the process, not so much the outcome.

The competency identification process needs to integrate with the natural science of brain function. We give practical meaning to ideas that generate strong emotions or affect. The brain seems to be programmed to understand what it perceives it needs to learn. One focus of this program is for the student to identify work goals and develop the passion needed to succeed with the academics required to achieve those work goals. The student must have a reason for learning. It is, the parent and school's responsibility to provide that reason.

Identifying career goals needs to be a cognitive process to support critical thinking skills for students. Parents may need to have additional ideas to motivate the student. Use satisfiers for the student, not things the student views as punishment. What does the student get into?  What is he trying to find the right question to more than the correct answer? What did he ask “why” about when he was four to eight years of age? Try to relate that genuine passion to the student’s goals and the academics needed for success.  

Students need a real sense of enthusiasm for the level of intellectual stimulation needed in their area of interest and learning. Emotions provide the energy students need to understand and apply cognitive information to new learning situations. Go with the flow of brain science.

Passion in the learning process helps build neural connections between brain cells. It enhances learning, recall, and the potential for critical thinking. Keeping a high level of brain activity in children 0 to five years of age is good. Get them mentally and physically doing, not just watching. Yes, it seems intellectual ability can be improved with the right environment. Intelligence is processing knowledge into new ideas through critical thinking. It is the “I gotta know” with passion. It is discovering the right questions that will open the door to unexpected solutions. As a result, learning becomes fun for the student. Students will “get into it” if they see the benefit. 

Students will relate to the four “A, s” Academics, Athletics (school/community), Appearance and Attitude. They are the keys to student success.

Parents need to:

1. Assist their student in setting realistic academic goals in line with the student’s interests and skills. 

2. Encourage their student to get involved in school or community activities that will enable the student to experience success and failure. They need to experience how to handle each. Welcome to life.

3. Enable their student to deal with their physical looks. Students can struggle with this issue. National media and advertising do not help. It is inner strength and constructive values that makes the ideal companion.  Students that get their popularity from their physical looks did not have to work for it. Therefore, there can be a tendency to be conceited and self-centered. The old saying, “Students with exceptional looks tend to make a popular date, but a lousy spouse” may still have merit. Students need to learn how to handle exceptional looks so appearance does not control the course of their life. Looks are a lightweight approach to making life role decisions. Expect surface results.

4. Engage in activities and conversation that result in a constructive attitude. This is an area in which the parent(s) can have input in the student's development.

General guidlines and suggestions for doing the activities.

Following is a list of suggestions that are relevant for the parent/student/school personal meeting. Working with the school can be, useful, as the process should lead to adjusting the course game-plan for high school, identifying activities the student needs to participate with in the community and school, exploring post high school educational options, finding financial sources for  educational goals, and making other decisions  that build the student's portfolio.  

1. Set up a one hour appointment with the school counselor. Indicate that the point is to focus on career options, a course game plan for high school, school and community activities, and training and financial assistance after high school. All these areas are part of a school guidance counselor's work.

2. Synergy is the process to use. This is a discovery activity. Parents and counselors will need to ask the right questions that relate to the students'  future. Let the student discover the options.

3. The student, parents, and a counselor, will each have a distinctive role. The counselor will have information in the student file and will understand the options that the school can provide and community resources available. Some schools have students keep an ongoing portfolio that will show the students past work and can measure the progress the student is making along with the standardized test results.

4. The parent needs to oversee the process and obtain needed information. 

5.  Other questions will come up during this meeting. It is necessary to follow-up on each issue. The time line often takes more than an hour. There may need to be a follow-up appointment in a few weeks. Some parents make a point of meeting with the counselor each year at scheduling time. Each activity provides input for timely objective student decision-making. The idea is for the student to make  career and other life decisions, with the parent managing the process and giving suggestions. Often, this process will open the door for ongoing family discussions that will result in better choices by the student and improved relationships and communication within the family. It gets students expressing their thoughts. Students will respond to a process that is objective, open, and lets them have input into discovering options for their future. Some students start talking so constructive questions can be asked by parents and the counselor.

 Students require a strong relationship with their parents. Remember, they have friends that have  close relationships with their parents and know what that relationship should be like. They often do not know how to make that relationship, or they try to make it with the wrong forces in the community. For some students, it is not in their DNA to admit this. Parents  remember when they were twelve to fifteen years of age.  Building the relationship is where the parent needs to take the lead.
We all know that building strong relationships is not easy and can change by the day. This process can result in questions and comments made, by the counselor, that can set the stage for the parent and student to build a better relationship because of the issues discussed. Those questions and comments need to be centered on the cognitive information compilied from the activities.  The “I think, I feel” approach tends not to set the stage for student acceptance.

 Parents will need to explain why this activity is beneficial. Career options can produce strong direction in course selections, school activities, and shadowing appointments (visiting work sites) that will need to occur as the student goes through high school. This appointment is a starting point. There should be an ongoing dialogue with the school. 

 After conducting over fifteen hundred conferences, with the student and parent, the following observations are noted:

A. Each student has natural competencies. Linking those natural competencies to career options is part of the task. The local educational and work community may or may not work together to make the connection between school and work success for the student.

B. The transition connectors are interests, competencies, skills, aptitudes and abilities. They  determine the best career options. Note: The terms competencies, abilities, skills and aptitudes all refer to the proficiency levels of the mental and physical tools needed to perform a job. Schools should provide the needed learning experiences that each student needs. Competencies is used in this model. 

C. When a student sees the relationship between school, work, and the academic needs of their career options, he will take his school work more seriously. This can change the student's attitude from “I have to” to “I need to” to “I want to” and the final step, “I feel like it” because he has found the passion and personal ownership for his learning. Getting the student to " personal ownership" means success is on the horizon. Some students are there. For that student, this process will provide additional options and information the student and parents may not have fully processes. For those parents it is time to look in the mirror and say, "can this really be happening". Congradulations. 

D. The six information areas, eleven activities and five resources will work for students of most ability levels. The six information areas and activities will provide the cognitive information needed. The activities need to be completed by the student with parent and counselor input. The resources may provide avenues for overcoming barriers preventing  students from achieving the academic success that should be theirs.  

E. The overriding issue for this model  is strength in the relationship between the parent and student. This process often results in that relationship becoming stronger because of the various ways the parent and the student will need to interact while working through the activities. The process can result in genuine caring, exercised between the parent and student. The counselor can assist that process. Parents are often looking to build a positive, interactive relationship with their student. The process will take time and commitment from the parent and school. It will be worth it.  The student certainly is.

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Copyright 2012: Empowering Students for Academic Enhancement
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