Recently I came across an Edutopia article called “Critical Thinking Pathways” by Todd Finely which reminded me of both the Keys to Argument Writing and The Key Comprehension Routine. In this article, Finely talks about how critical thinking has become a “buzz phrase” associated more and more with Common Core. Here at KTL we understand the importance of critical thinking and have been encouraging teachers to incorporate more critical thinking into their lessons for several years.
First, in The Key Comprehension Routine we focus on the strategy of question generation. Specifically, we help teachers develop and understand how to encourage students to ask and answer critical thinking questions in all content areas. Further, in Keys to Argument Writing we encourage students to examine texts in order to build arguments using logic and reason. In addition, we teach students to read and examine arguments (even their own) with a critical eye. We encourage them to consider the opposing view and to write about it in a respectful and fair manner.
Several science teachers recommended It’s Debatable! Using Socioscientific Issues to Develop Scientific Literacy and Citizenship by Dana L. Zeidler and Sami Kahn and I love it! The book encourages critical thinking while students develop arguments based on real world scientific and social topics.
Readworks.org has some great lesson plans for books (e.g. try searching 6th grade Westing Game) you are probably already using in your class which highlight critical thinking. But, I will echo the point that Finely makes in his article, just because something is labeled as a “critical thinking” question, doesn’t mean it is! Use your best judgment and teach your students to do the same.
Finally, www.newsela.com is an excellent source for asking students to think critically about the world around them. On this website, there are many current event articles for which the teacher has the ability to change the lexile (reading level) in order to differentiate for the needs of all students. The newsELA tagline is “Read Closely. Think Critically. Be Worldly.” Teachers of younger students, try www.dogonews.com which is very similar and also includes print and digital sources for students in grades K-8.
In closing, the article, book, and websites have some great ideas as you consider small ways to incorporate more critical thinking into your classes. Also, check out our website www.woocommerce-27332-58879-157322.cloudwaysapps.com for more information on Keys to Argument Writing and The Key Comprehension Routine.