When we ask students to “judge with criteria“, we’re pushing them past fluffy “opinion” questions and demanding some real thinking. By changing our criteria, we can completely change the final evaluation. Teaching our students to identify the criteria behind a decision will make them better decision-makers and help them understand others’ points of view.
The Big Idea
Ask your students to consider a situation in which an unpopular decision might actually be correct.
For example, at Disneyland, rides must be shut down periodically for maintenance. Obviously, shutting down rides is very unpopular, but, if the criteria is “safety,” then the decision makes sense.
The final decision depends heavily on the criteria being used to make it.
Introduce the definition of criteria. Feel free to include the fun fact that “criteria” is actually plural and one criteria is called a “criterion.”
Criteria (n): standards by which something is judged.
Clarify this meaning by explaining that a person who believes rides should be kept open is using “entertainment” as their criteria, but someone who thinks that rides should be closed down is thinking about “safety.”
|Shutting down rides||Entertainment||Rides should remain open|
|Safety||Rides should be closed regularly.|
Practice with a topic that students understand on their own. You might use a hamburger.
Let’s identify two possible (and opposite) evaluations:
- “the burger is worth eating”
- “the burger is not worth eating.”
What possible criteria would lead a person to believe that we should eat burgers? What would lead one to the opposite belief?
Challenge students to come up with several criteria that would explain both decisions. Possibilities are below:
|Hamburgers||Taste, Hunger, Socializing||The burger is worth eating.|
|Health, Allergies, Vegetarianism||The burger is not worth eating.|
You could reinforce this with other simple topics such as “exercising” or “going to bed early.” Kids would come up with examples of criteria that would lead to either a positive or negative judgment.
Move to Groups
Once students understand the basics, challenge them to identify the criteria of some less obvious decisions. You might want to make this a group activity so students get to talk with peers.
You might use the idea of increasing or decreasing recess time.
|Recess Time||???||Recess time should be increased.|
|???||Recess time should be decreased.|
Apply To Curriculum
Once students have a handle on identifying criteria, start bringing this idea into your grade-level content.
Many topics within your curriculum have two opposing points of view. You can use criteria to help students understand why, at different times, both points of view might be correct.
|American Revolution||The revolution was justified.|
|The revolution was unjustified.|
|Building The Great Pyramid||The pyramid was not worth it.|
|The pyramid was worth it.|
|Paying taxes||Taxes are a waste of money.|
|Taxes are a vital part of our government.|
|The Giving Tree‘s endless giving||Giving was the proper action.|
|Giving was an improper action.|
|Picasso’s The Old Guitarist||This is a poor painting.|
|This is a great painting.|
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