MINDS MATTER’S ACADEMIC CURRICULUM DEVELOPS INTEGRATED THINKING
Educational programming enhances skills required for application and admission to college
CLEVELAND – The number one skill high school students need to succeed in college and in life is “critical thinking,” which is disciplined reasoning to make informed choices. The international expert on the topic, Professor Richard Paul, explains that this skill is the “essential foundation for adaptation to the everyday personal, social, and professional demands of the 21st Century.” Therefore, while placing its students in competitive academic summer programs at leading colleges across the country and eventually achieving their admission to four year universities are capstone experiences, Minds Matter of Cleveland recognizes that building the skill of integrated thinking is the key to not only reaching, but also sustaining success.
To accomplish this goal, the Minds Matter of Cleveland chapter has implemented several rigorous academic programs, directed by its academic deans, to foster this skill through writing, reading, and math courses. To date, its students have translated this training into success on standardized tests and college-level coursework.
The following provides a description of each of our three academic programs: Writing and Critical Thinking, Math Matters, and SAT prep.
Writing & Critical Thinking Program: + 82% Improvement
Minds Matter of Cleveland Writing & Critical Thinking Program is an innovative and rigorous course of study designed to enhance verbal, written and critical reasoning skills for our sophomores, juniors and seniors. The Cleveland Chapter’s unique curriculum systematically targets argument deconstruction and delivery, stylistic and grammatical fluency, semantic accuracy, thesis research and development and academic paper preparation. Students are required to complete online examinations licensed through the Foundation for Critical Thinking, submit weekly written assignments on topics such as Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead, develop papers for national essay competitions, engage in debates on current affairs, critique audio-visual materials and develop oral presentation skills. Upon the completion of the program each fall, students receive ongoing written guidance from the Minds Matter Writing Council whose expert writing council members ensure students employ the skills they have learned to produce highly competitive essays for summer program applications.
Students have enjoyed much success and documented score improvement on exams. For instance, one of Minds Matter of Cleveland’s students won a coveted Gold Key Award from the Alliance for Young Writers and Artists ranking in the top 1,300 out of 140,000 applicants nationwide for his essay.
Math Matters Program: + 45% Improvement
Recognizing the importance of mathematics to the success of its students, Minds Matter of Cleveland launched the first Math Matters program in 2008 with outstanding results. The Math Matters Program builds fluency in targeted topics such as algebra, geometry, problem solving and probability. Minds Matter of Cleveland’s challenging curriculum systematically reviews essential mathematical concept areas through a dynamic and interactive classroom setting that encourages students to collectively and competitively sharpen their analytical skills to ensure success both on standardized tests such as the ACT and in eventual college studies. Students enjoy detailed feedback on weekly assignments from dedicated instructors who assess student performance through a variety of examinations and homework projects that dovetail with their performance in school and other standardized tests.
To date, students have enjoyed tremendous improvement in their scores from the diagnostic to exit examinations administered through the Math Matters program. Likewise, Minds Matter of Cleveland’s program has become the model for the other chapters throughout the country.
Kaplan SAT Prep Program: + 252 Point Improvement
Recognizing that strong standardized test scores are an indispensable component of the increasingly competitive college admissions process, Minds Matter of Cleveland has partnered with Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, through Kaplan’s Community Outreach Program, to provide effective and comprehensive SAT preparation for our students.
Upon the completion of their writing and critical thinking and Math Matters classes, Minds Matter sophomores and juniors can benefit by enrolling in Kaplan’s SAT prep classes, which run from January through May. Specifically, students must complete eight sessions conducted by an expert Kaplan instructor, and an additional four sessions of full-length practice tests.
Students receive an array of course materials including classroom texts, flash cards, additional workbooks and much more to ensure their fluency with Kaplan’s proven score-raising methods and strategies for success. Likewise, students are assigned additional practice through Kaplan’s online QuizBank at www.kaptest.com.
Minds Matter of Cleveland students have experienced great improvement in their scores from the diagnostic to exit examinations administered through the program.
Tutoring Program: + 17% Improvement
Finally, recognizing the importance of one-on-one instruction, Minds Matter of Cleveland has launched a structured tutoring program designed to supplement its SAT Program with periodic opportunities for students to review test questions and topics with math, verbal and writing tutors. Managed by a Head Tutor, the tutoring staff is selected based upon their fluency in the requisite topics and/or professional experience in related fields. Tutors then receive training in techniques to assist students in building substantive familiarity with these topics. Tutors are thus primarily not engaged in test prep methodology which is the purview of the SAT program.
Tutors have come from many different backgrounds such as law, professional editing, engineering, banking and many other fields. Minds Matter of Cleveland is always looking for additional tutors to participate. To date, the tutoring program has achieved much success as evidenced by the increasingly strong scoring metrics of the students on the SAT.