Critical thinking...reflective, higher order, and independent thinking. Applied to the classroom I think of it as teaching students to think on a deeper level, not just memorizing facts. So I am sharing 5 great critical thinking activities with you today.
This quote by Albert Einstein says it all. He was one smart man!
1. Wondering Wall
Have a Wondering Wall in your room and teach students to ask questions about the text they are reading. This is a great way to begin to think deeper about the text.
At first, your students may come up with wonderings or questions that are more surface level. But after lots of modeling from you and hearing each other's questions, students will being to move towards thinking about questions that will help them to understand the text better. They may go from questions like "why are the kids at the fairgrounds at night" to questions like "Aren't the kids missed at home by the parents and why haven't the parents gone out to find the kids since it is at night time".
2. Which One Does Not Belong?
3. Which Strategy Did You Use?
Currently, we are working on learning different reading strategies to help us with tricky words. But I don't want my students to memorize the strategies. I want them to learn HOW to use them in the best way.
When the student reads and comes to a tricky word, they write the word down and then check the strategy they found the most useful. Some students wanted to write more than one tricky word on their sheet!
4. The Answer Is...
I love this backwards thinking strategy! Give an answer and the students must come up with a question for it. The more you model and encourage creative thinking for this strategy, the more the students will enjoy coming up with creative questions! They enjoy thinking of questions that maybe no one else would think of to ask.
5. Agree/Disagree Boards
When we get out our Agree/Disagree boards, my students love it! These are wipe off boards that you can flip from front to back. If you don't have these, you can just print agree on one side of yardstick and disagree on the other and glue to wide popsicle sticks. Currently we are using them to prove character traits. One student will say they believe the character is upset. Then we vote whether we agree or disagree with the student. The student finds the evidence in the text to prove their trait and anyone who disagrees finds their evidence to prove their thinking. Great conversations come from Agree/Disagree! One student discovered this past week that the character could feel one way at one time in the story, but feel differently later in the story. It was great to lead into the skill that characters change in our stories. Now this student wants to disagree all the time. But that is okay..as long as he can prove his thinking!
What are some of your favorite activities to promote critical thinking in your classroom?