One of our focus points for student learning and teacher professional development this year is The Art of Explanation. At the start of the 2017-2018 school year, teachers were introduced to Lee LeFever's work on how to craft effective explanations. The Wolf Canyon team decided that this focus point would be a great bridge between our work last year on mathematical explanations and our work this year on "Taking a Stance" across all the subject areas. Throughout the year, teachers will strive to intentionally develop students' ability to explain their thinking effectively. This involves the building of both content and context knowledge, empathy (to step into the shoes of the intended audience), and decision-making to take a stance (confidently identifying evidence that supports a claim or claims).
Parents are encouraged to engage in deeper-level conversations with their children throughout the year, and explore a wide variety of academic topics and issues together. Then, as children start to construct their knowledge and perspectives about different subject matter, encourage them to verbally identify the evidence that supports the claims they begin to make.
The gist is (1) thinking deeply and (2) explaining with evidence and empathy.
Here's a quote from The Art of Explanation by Lee LeFever:
"Explanations are not focused on facts, laws, or specifics. Explanation is the art of showing why the facts, laws, and specifics make sense."
And another compelling quote by Paul Lockhart:
“Mental acuity of any kind comes from solving problems yourself, not from being told how to solve them.”