Critical Thinking….How you can do it

Critical thinking is a staple in 21st century education.  Mariko Nabori at Edutopia outlines 10 things you can do to ensure students are thinking criticaly in your classroom. 

1. Questions, questions, questions.

Questioning is at the heart of critical thinking, so you want to create an environment where intellectual curiosity is fostered and questions are encouraged.

2. Start with a prompt and help them unpack it.

Pose a provocative question to build an argument around and help your students break it down.

3. Provide tools for entering the conversation.

At the beginning of the year, Kirkpatrick gives her students a list of sentence starters and connectors (2) such as “I agree/disagree because,” “I can connect to your statement because,” and “Can you clarify what you mean by.” Providing them with these words gives them ways to enter the conversation and will guide their thought process in analyzing the argument.

4. Model your expectations.

…use examples, both good and bad, of people presenting arguments and having Socratic discussions.

5. Encourage constructive controversy.

Lively discussions usually involve some degree of differing perspectives.

6. Choose content students will invest in.

It’s important to choose topics that are relevant and significant to students to get them talking and engaged.

7. Set up Socratic discussions.

Socratic discussion is the method of inquiry in which participants ask one another questions that test logic with the goal of gaining greater understanding or clarity.

8. Assess their reasoning through different methods.

To know whether your students are learning to think critically, you need a window into their thought processes.

9. Let students evaluate each other.

…use a Socratic seminar rubric (10) that clearly lays out the components of analytical thinking so the students know exactly what to look for. And by evaluating their peers with the same rubric the teacher uses, students gain a better understanding of the criteria for strong critical thinking and discussion.

10. Step back.

…when you give students the responsibility to be the thinkers in the class and drive the content, they may take it in unexpected directions that are more relevant to them and are thus more likely to stick.

The full article can be found here.

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