• October 27, 2021
 Op-Ed: Jane Pollock PhD. The i5 Approach: Using Technology to Teach Thinking

Op-Ed: Jane Pollock PhD. The i5 Approach: Using Technology to Teach Thinking

Several weeks ago I approached Jane E. Pollock, PhD, author of the book “The i5 Approach” and asked if she might write a short guest blog, in lieu of my typical author interviews.

She graciously agreed, and here is her response:

A biology teacher, Veronica, wondered: if I ask students to use technology, will they learn better and become more critical and creative thinkers? She says that she rearranges student desks in groups, uses 1:1 devices, and facilitates the learning by walking around rather than lecturing from the front.

The technology initiative, students using personal devices, indeed increases engagement, but many teachers like Veronica admit to having concerns about the increase in distraction, too. But, she has also seen too many really exciting initiatives vanish when they have little positive impact on student achievement.

Do you also wonder if using technology and personalizing in classrooms increases achievement?

Today’s research shows that the overall effect on student learning achievement for using technology is comparable and not higher than traditional teaching (Hattie, 2017). Visiting classrooms, I’ve found that the problem may not be the technology, but the lesson planning and delivery routines that date back to the 1980s.

Students come to class ready to actively engage, but upon close observation, it appears that teaching practices based on older models, may inadvertently inhibit active learning.

The i5 Approach explains how to retrofit traditional lesson planning to incorporate new research about how humans learn. We use our senses to integrate information and images, we seek interaction for clarification and feedback. The result of so much sensory stimuli is that we have to process it; we inquire (or think) about it.

The biological reason for thinking is that we produce a new idea, a choice, a solution, or an innovation. This is the approach I call the i5 approach: information + images + interaction + inquiry = innovation.

Thinking is how humans cope with the world. In our busy stimulus-rich environment thinking seems to happen naturally, only slowing us down to solve complex problems or make difficult decisions. Classrooms are much less engaging than the outside world; students generally only need to see and hear (not smell, taste, or touch for most subjects) the content of most lessons. Oddly, they biologically have much less of a need to think. Technology changes that!

Students come to class, actively seeking information and feedback the way they do in their everyday lives; they need lessons that are planned so they do deliberately use and process enormous amounts of stimuli. Students can become better thinkers if teachers adjust the flow of the lesson in two ways: integrating technology during the lecture or whole class instruction and explicitly teaching the steps to thinking or inquiry skills. That leads to a continuous practice of generating new ideas and innovating. Technology can change the classroom to ensure students become critical and creative thinkers.

Research shows that using technology is the answer to teaching critical and creative thinking (Pollock, 2018). The goal is teaching thinking; the tool is using technology.

Jane, co-author of ASCD bestseller, Classroom Instruction That Works (2001), works worldwide with teachers, coaches and principals on curriculum, instruction, assessment, and supervision. Her work results in improved student achievement at the classroom and school levels.

A former classroom and ESL teacher, Jane worked as a district administrator and Senior Researcher for McREL Research Laboratory. She has written many books, including, The i5 Approach: Lesson Planning for Teaching Thinking (2018).

About the i5 Approach:

If the three r’s define education’s past, there are five i’s—information, images, interaction, inquiry, and innovation—that forecast its future, one in which students think for themselves, actively self-assess, and enthusiastically use technology to further their learning and contribute to the world.

What students need, but too often do not get, is deliberate instruction in the critical and creative thinking skills that make this vision possible. The i5 approach provides a way to develop these skills in the context of content-focused and technology-powered lessons that give students the opportunity to

1. Seek and acquire new information.

2. Use visual images and nonlinguistic representations to add meaning.

3. Interact with others to obtain and provide feedback and enhance understanding.

4. Engage in inquiry—use and develop a thinking skill that will expand and extend knowledge.

5. Generate innovative insights and products related to the lesson goals.

Jane E. Pollock and Susan Hensley explain the i5 approach’s foundations in brain research and its links to proven instructional principles and planning models. They provide step-by-step procedures for teaching 12 key thinking skills and share lesson examples from teachers who have successfully “i5’ed” their instruction.

With practical guidance on how to revamp existing lessons, The i5 Approach is an indispensable resource for any teacher who wants to help students gain deeper and broader content understanding and become stronger and more innovative thinkers.

Jane E. Pollock, Ph.D. jpollock@learninghorizon.net

You can purchase the book on the ASCD Website  |  Also on iBooks  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Amazon


Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.

Feel free to leave a comment.  Read his previous columns here.

Tim Holt


Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.

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