SearchSeekingEducationalAlternatives toReach andChallengeHigher-Level thinking skills
The Loudoun County SEARCH program, offered to all K-4 grade students, focuses on thinking skills and is designed to foster a classroom environment that encourages students to develop an excitement for learning and discovery. SEARCH teachers work within the classroom to stimulate curiosity, practice problem solving strategies, incorporate cooperative learning activities, provide opportunities for students to use higher level thinking skills, and to identify students with exceptional ability. During the lessons the primary classroom teacher makes observations to gain insight into the students’ various skills, strengths, and learning styles. Both teachers work cooperatively to recognize and develop the potential for excellence in each student. The SEARCH teacher is available to assist in the development of lesson plans and activities that promote higher level thinking, model or provide tips for differentiating instruction and to offer enrichment to students who have been formally identified for gifted services. The Loudoun County SEARCH lessons are organized under the learning keys listed below and are aligned with theVirginia Standards of Learning.
These lessons fulfill the goals of the LCPS Gifted Education Department which are:
1.To become divergent creative thinkers who recognize problems and solve them.
2.To construct personal meaning and understanding of others and of the world around them.
3.To develop the capacity for self-assessment (ownership of the learning).The SEARCH curriculum is problem solving based and spirals developmentally through five components: perceiving, reasoning, connecting, creating, and evaluating. Each grade level learns about each component at increasingly more complex and abstract levels.
Perceiving is understanding and learning with one’s senses. Concrete spatial and visual activities are provided and students are encouraged to look at objects in many different ways. Pattern recognition and prediction skills develop and are used along with reasoning skills.
Reasoning is using information to find answers that can be proven, are logical, and make sense. Reasoning activities begin at the simple level of recognizing, labeling, classifying, and comparing attributes of concrete objects. As students mature, reasoning activities become more abstract as students use analysis and logic to solve problems.
Connecting means linking information and ideas to see how they fit together. At the basic level, students identify and extend patterns using concrete objects. More abstract problem solving involves interpreting and extending numeric patterns, determining relationships between concepts, and making generalizations. Students make connections between cause and effect.
Creating is putting ideas, information, or objects together in a new or different way. Students learn to be flexible and fluent in their thinking with familiar objects as well as unusual and/or real life problems. Original ideas are elaborated with humor and/or beauty to provide clarity and completeness. Student products may be visual, verbal, spatial, or kinesthetic.Evaluating is using information to make a decision. Students begin evaluating by determining what the facts are and what considerations are important in making a decision. Students learn to develop criteria and rank solutions or choices according to the criteria when making decisions.