Actually, we have PETS in kindergarten, first, second, third and some of our fourth grade classes. I am not talking about the four-legged furry pets (even though I would love an official LME puppy). I am referring to the Primary Education Thinking Skills, or PETS, lessons. These lessons were created by Margaret Wolfe, Sally Thompson, Dodie Merritt and Jody Nichols.
The PETS lessons teach our students the different ways that we think. The students learn about convergent, divergent, visual and evaluative thinking through the fun friends who live in Crystal Pond Woods. Each friend represents a different way of thinking and the lessons are taught through stories and activities revolving around these characters.
Throughout the school year, I visit the first, second, third and some fourth grade classroom and teach the PETS lessons to each class. I see each class every other week for about thirty minutes. Usually, there is a story that involves a character (type of thinking) and an activity that allows the students to practice that type of thinking.
For the past two weeks in first grade, we have been talking about Dudley the Detective (he is dog detective). He uses deductive thinking, which is a type of convergent thinking. Dudley is logical and looks for clues. He never jumps to conclusions. Instead, he re-reads the clues and takes time to analyze and think. In the end, he comes up with one right answer. I focus on teaching the first graders the type of thinking and the three steps, or strategies, Dudley uses with deductive thinking.
So far, I read a story about Dudley's missing detective badge. The students had to listen to the story, analyze the problem, reflect on the story for clues and finally come up with the one character who took his badge. Don't worry, Dudley did find his badge. His friend Rosalyn Robin took the badge on accident. It was so pretty and shiny, she could not help herself. She did give it back and apologize.
The next time I came into the first grade classrooms, the students continued to practice their deductive thinking. I read the students clues describing different creatures that live in the forest. The students had to use their listening skills and put the clues together in order to find the one right animal that fit ALL of the clues. It was a fun activity, plus the kids really have to think and put together different pieces of information to come up with the one correct answer.
The PETS lessons happen in a variety of grade levels because of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM). A huge part of SEM is teaching the students critical thinking skills. Teaching the students HOW we think and solve problems is the best way to teach them TO think. When we understand the process, then we are able to apply to a variety of situations. This is another way that Laurel Mountain creates world-class talent.