Since the last school year I have, along with many other colleagues, been working with our students in developing and using their critical thinking skills. In addition this year I have been diligently working with my students to understand their digital identity, to use social media and hopefully soon, to blog. Being able to do all of these activities effectively and efficiently requires an understanding of criteria. As educators we look at, develop, manipulate and use criteria throughout the school year. The dictionary defines criteria as a statement of needs, rules, standards, or tests that must be used in evaluating a decision, idea, opportunity, program, project, etc., to form correct judgment regarding the intended goal. Criteria is plural of criterion.
Great! I understand what criteria is, now how does one explain this to six students ranging in age and comprehension from kindergarten to grade five? Although I am sure there are many ideas, which I hope to hear about from my PLN and others who read this post, I chose to focus my explanation on something that my students and I enjoy; food.
I asked the students what belongs on, or in a sandwich. We agreed that we needed two pieces of bread for sure, but after that we could not agree on the toppings. We had everything from peanut butter to pickles and head cheese to tuna. Needless to say after about ten minutes we were done with our list. Since we couldn’t agree which toppings should be on a sandwich I said we could make a sandwich with everything on it and asked “who would like to eat this sandwich?”. I had no takers, so I asked “why doesn’t this make a great sandwich?”. One of my students said, “Because some of those things don’t go together. They would taste yucky”. Another student said, “You didn’t say what kind of sandwich we were making.”
My kids had hit the nail on head. I agreed that criteria tells us what is needed and in some aspects how it should be. From this we worked on The Five W’s as most of what we are doing currently is writing in class, but if there are any ideas that you may have as to how to explain Criteria please feel free to share. All input and advice is welcome.