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Reading and writing for critical thinking (RWCT)


RWCT is a professional development project for educators, the purpose of which is to provide participants with strategies for interactive methods of teaching that prepare pupils for active citizenship. RWCT is based on the idea that democratic practices in schools play an important role in the transition toward more open societies.

The project is offered as collaboration between the Open Society Institute-New York and the Consortium for Democratic Pedagogy, which is composed of the International Reading Association's International Division and the University of Northern Iowa's Office of Education for Democracy and the Orava Project in Slovakia.

RWCT is active in the following countries:
Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Guatemala, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

RWCT introduces research-based instructional methods to teachers and teacher educators. These methods are designed to help students think reflectively, take ownership of their personal learning, understand the logic of arguments, listen attentively, debate confidently and become independent, lifelong learners. The program can be used in all grades and subjects with existing curricula.

Learn more about RWCT project
D.Klooster What is critical thinking? // Thinking Classroom. 2001(4).
K.Meredith Freedom, Responsibility and Democratic Schools // Thinking Classroom. Vol.3, No.2, 2002.


International RWCT Consortium

In 2003 representatives of RWCT countries made a decision to approach all the in-country people about creating a network of critical thinkers. This network of the RWCT countries is an objective necessity as it can support the community of teachers, faculty, students, and parents, everyone who has come to value democratic approaches in education in the course of the past 6 and a half years when RWCT program has been implemented in this part of the world.

Coming together in Vilnius (Lithuania) on 15 March 2004, representatives of 23 organizations from 22 countries (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan) signed the Agreement on of the RWCT International Consortium.

The mission of the Consortium is as follows: "The RWCT International Consortium provides professional development opportunities for educators who bring up highly motivated and well educated citizens capable of critical thinking, setting and achieving their own and community goals, and bearing social responsibility".



Founders of Consortium

Signature of the agreement

Development of Consortium action plans

Learn more about RWCT International Consortium 

Reading and writing for critical thinking project in Lithuania
 

Project duration: 1997-2000
Since 2001 project was transformed into permanent in-service programme

Project supported by:
Open Society Institute-New York
International Reading Association
Open Society Fund-Lithuania


Project background
Before starting RWCT project in Lithuania, quality of education content in Lithuania schools was revised and the following conclusions were made:

  • students are lack of skills of information search, selection and evaluation, reflective thinking, attentive listening, debate;
  • memorization of facts is prevailing as background of learning process;
  • students are unable to make practical knowledge they amassed in school;
  • students' creativity is restricted;
  • teachers apply very few modern teaching methods in their practice;
  • system of knowledge evaluation is imperfect;
  • there are no evidences of information and democratic society in Lithuania schools.
Research, made in Lithuania, shows, that many people meet problems, because of the lack of self-confidence, critical attitude towards personal abilities and capacity to reflect and make decisions. Those problems create barrier for personal and professional development. Those skills are very important for their future career and adaptation in society. The young people must be prepared to meet challenges of the rapidly changing world and information. Developing critical thinking, as universal strategy, is still one of the biggest needs in society.

RWCT project has identified a set of behaviours and characteristics which are consistent with the characteristics many others have thought best serve as the foundation of democratic interchange.

Advantages of the project
Classroom-based

Participants leave RWCT workshops ready to implement the strategies in their own classrooms.

Flexible
RWCT is effectively implemented in primary and secondary classrooms, in pedagogical high schools, and in university classrooms, across many disciplines.

Adaptable to local conditions
RWCT is designed for use with existing curricula and existing materials.

Designed to build local capacity
Mentored by a select group of international educators, RWCT builds a corps of skilled, in-country teacher trainers giving each country the capacity for national expansion.

 
Project aims
  • To implement democratic practices in Lithuania schools in order to promote educational reform.
  • To introduce into schools strategies for interactive methods of teaching that prepares pupils for citizenship in open societies.
  • To set up models and methods of staff professional development that can be used to train teachers long after the project is complete.
Project volunteers in Lithuania
Wendy SAUL, University of Maryland (USA)
Jeanne REARDON, Montgomery County Public School (USA)
Janice DOLE, University of Utah (USA)
Bonnie MORGAN, Utah State Office of Education (USA)

Project activities in Lithuania
Lithuania joined the RWCT network in 1997. The project was started under one of educational programs of Open Society Fund-Lithuania.

During the first year of the project volunteers from the International Reading Association, experts in the methods they present, were assigned to work with the in-country leadership team, formed from Lithuania primary, secondary schools, gymnasiums and universities. RWCT lecturers of the first generation, able to eventually demonstrate and teach these methods to others, were prepared. In year II, the first generation participants trained teachers of the second generation. All these teachers became a part of the local leadership core.
Since 1998 dissemination activities were started and institutionalization strategy was developed.
48 schools and education centres have participated in the project during 1997-2000, over 600 teachers from various Lithuanian schools attended RWCT seminars.
After the RWCT project end in 2000, newly established Modern Didactics Center took over the project and turned it to permanent in-service training programme of the centre. MDC coordinates network of trainers, delivers RWCT courses for teachers, organizes certification processes and initiates other activities ensuring project sustainability.
RWCT programme, starting from 1997 till now has faced many challenges. Any way it still remains to serve as background for many RWCT-Lithuania team works. It had tremendous impact on personal and professional growth on project participants.


Project leaders
Seeking to sustain program quality, MDC started a certification of RWCT teachers and lecturers in 2001. To become certified as a workshop leader, an RWCT participant must complete 8 days RWCT course, additional 2 days adult education course and must provide portfolio of the program implementation in their lessons.

There are three generations of RWCT lecturers - more than 30 active trainers, working in higher, secondary and primary schools.
National RWCT team

Each summer MDC organizes in-service training courses for RWCT lecturers.
The trainers of RWCT project from Lithuania were invited to work as international experts, consultants and teachers in the frame of the project in Slovakia (2000), Bosnia (2000), Belarus (2000-2002), Poland (2005-2006).


RWCT centres
Since 1997 four schools joined the RWCT programme and became RWCT centers-modelling schools. These schools with a significant proportion of teacher educators familiar with RWCT methodologies serve as demonstration sites for both pre-service and in-service teachers: teachers apply RWCT methods in their lessons, deliver workshops for other teachers, and organize open lessons. They also provide the basis for students' teaching practices.
Vilnius primary school "Vyturys"
Director Ausra DRUMSTIENE
Taikos str. 189, LT-05209 Vilnius
Tel., fax. +370 5 246 0740
rastine@vyturio.vilnius.lm.lt
 
Vilnius S.Daukantas gymnasium
Director Jolanta Gertruda KNYVIENE
J. Jasinskio str. 11, LT-01111 Vilnius
Tel., fax. +370 5 249 6517
rastine@daukanto.vilnius.lm.lt
 
Silute 1st gymnasium
Director Laima SPIRGIENE
K.Kalinausko str. 2, LT-99130 Silute
Tel., fax. +370-441 62 008
pirmagim@gimnazija.silute.lm.lt
 
Moletai gymnazium
Director Rima GUOBIENE
Jaunimo str. 5, LT-33127 Moletai
Tel.+370 383 54 504, fax. +378 383 51 032
info@gimnazija.moletai.lm.lt
 
Mazeikiai Ziburelis primary school
Director Jovita MINGELIENE
Gamyklos str. 4/3, LT-89231 Mazeikiai
Tel. fax. +370 443 66 346
info@ziburelis.harvista.lt

In-service training
MDC presents for teachers introductory 2 days course to RWCT. First day is obligatory course on RWCT framework, second day is optional course on the following topics:
1. Creating the Environment for Critical Thinking
2. Methods for Promoting Critical Thinking
3. Cooperative Learning
4. Lesson Planning
5. Assessment and Evaluation
6. Writing for Thinking
7. Creating Thoughtful Readers
8. Reading Workshop
9. School Library in the Change: Promoting Critical Thinking
10. Critical Thinking for Health Education

More than 800 teachers attending RWCT courses each year.
After completing of courses, teachers are provided by the certificates of RWCT courses participants.

The full RWCT course of 8 days (48 hours) usually is organized for teachers' team from one particular school. The workshops are designed to model interactive instruction and learning. They are built around demonstration lessons, with opportunities for discussion, practice, and questions. Completing the whole RWCT course teachers usually following further RWCT certification procedures in order to become RWCT teachers and lecturers.

Since 2002 Modern Didactics Center organizes international Critical Thinking in-service training courses.
More about the courses


Higher education
Since the very beginning of project lecturers of Vilnius Pedagogical University were involved as project participants and advocates.
In 1998 the course "Developing of Critical Thinking in Teaching Different Subjects" was offered to Vilnius University and Vilnius Pedagogical University students as one semester duration optional credit course. Since 1999 this initiative have been prolonged only in Vilnius Pedagogical University. More than 100 students attending this course each semester.

MDC seeks to extend relationships with universities and colleges and organizes RWCT courses, annual Summer and Winter camps for teachers and students in order to present effective teaching and learning strategies and involve them in the RWCT project.

In 2002 MDC initiated the two year project for higher schools "Critical Thinking Development in Higher Education".


RWCT programme-based projects
On the basis of Critical Thinking programme MDC developed several international projects:

MIND / Critical Thinking Development for Successful Future Career in EU, 2001-2003MIND 2 / Critical Thinking Development for Successful Future Career in EU: Practical Approach, 2004-2005
Critical Thinking Development: Training Programme for Belarus Educators, 2000-2002
Critical Thinking Development in Higher Education, 2002-2003
Critical Thinking for Successful Future Career: Training Programme for Kaliningrad Region Educators, 2002 Critical Thinking Development: Training Programme for Poland Educators, 2005-2006

Project publications

Permainos - national version of international RWCT journal Thinking Classroom, 2000-2003.
Gudzinskiene V. Critical Thinking for Health Education. Vilnius, 2000.
Critical Thinking: Theory and Practice. Vilnius, 2001.
Critical Thinking for Career Education: Integrated Programme and Guidebook. Vilnius, 2003, 2006.
Critical Thinking for Career Education: Specialized Programme and Guidebook. Vilnius, 2003, 2006.
Critical Thinking for Successful Future Career. Practical Approach: Training Programme. Training Manual. Vilnius, 2005.
RWCT Teacher's and Lecturer's Certification Standards and Procedures. Vilnius, 2004.
Critical Thinking Development in Higher Education: Study Programmes. Vilnius, 2004.
Dauksiene D., Navickaite A., Jariene R. Effective reading strategies: Reading workshop. Vilnius, 2008+DVD

More about publications

Project evaluation
In 1999 the sociological survey was made to evaluate the efficiency and improvement perspectives of the RWCT project in Lithuania.
Summary of the survey

In April 2000, the Open Society Institute commissioned the American Institutes for Research to conduct an evaluation of the RWCT project.
Evaluation report

In 2009 OSI’s Education Support Program (ESP), in charge of the Critical Thinking program, has decided to conduct a Critical Thinking Program Review (CTPR), a fact-finding exercise to document the impact of the RWCT program in the countries which have implemented the RWCT program. The review included all 28 countries that implemented the RWCT program with support from OSI in the period between 1997 and 2004. The review targeted two aspects: sustainability of the original RWCT Project outputs and outcomes and RWCT related developments that were initiated by in-country RWCT Program Directors and trainers. For data collection there were used document review, focus groups and interviews.
Evaluation target groups were RWCT Teachers, University faculties, RWCT Trainers, RWCT in-country program partners.


Project events
International conference
Development of Critical Thinking and Teacher Training in the XXI-st century - Opportunities for Change.
21-23 February 2000, Vilnius.
The conference was devoted for pre-service teacher training issues not only in the Soros network countries, but also in the whole world. The quests from 10 countries had opportunity not only to share their experience, but also visited Lithuanian schools - methodical centres of critical thinking development - and observed lessons. Lithuania teachers prepared practical recommendations for pre-service teacher training institutions: what necessary changes we are facing in XXI century. The 60 participants from USA, Check Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania were involved into very active planning for the future cooperation and left with concrete engagements.
Agenda

Meeting of RWCT Higher Education Initiative Planning and Action Commission.
17-19 January 2001, Vilnius.

RWCT Publication Meeting. 21-24 January 2001, Vilnius.

Fifth anniversary of RWCT project in Lithuania. 16-20 September 2002, Vilnius.
Celebrating the fifth anniversary of RWCT project, 16-20 September was announced as Critical Thinking Week in Lithuanian schools. During the week in RWCT centers-modelling schools there were organized mini-conferences, discussions, open lessons, in-service training seminars for RWCT trainers. Project directors J.Steele and K.Meredith came to Lithuania to congratulate Lithuanian team.


Project directors J.Steele,
K.Meredith and State
secretary of Ministry of
Education and Science
D.Numgaudis (in the center)

Dr. K.Meredith lecture
"Happy People" at
Vilnius Pedagogical University

Award of acknowledgement
of Ministry of Education and
Science to RWCT schools

Tenth anniversary of RWCT project in Lithuania. 19-23 March 2007, Vilnius, Silute, Moletai, Mazeikiai
Anniversary was celebrated by announcing Reading Week in Lithuanian schools. There were organised a lot of reading activities during all lessons: presentations of books, discussions, actions, meetings with writers and publishers, book fairs.



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