Critical Thinking Assignments For Middle School

For Teachers Updated November 9, 2012

Critical Thinking Resources for Middle School Teachers

By Room 241 Team November 9, 2012

Middle school teachers of all subjects are interested in fostering critical thinking in their classroom, but it’s not always an easy task to incorporate in the never-ending quest to match lesson plans to state learning standards. Here are seven resources that will easily add critical thinking to your lesson plans.

The Critical Thinking Community

The Critical Thinking Community is a resource site designed to encourage critical thinking in students. There are teaching strategies, a glossary of important terms, as well as articles by thought leaders in critical thinking, such as one by Bertrand Russell on the importance of developing critical thinking skills. Visit the site.

Here are some recommended pages for critical thinking strategies for the middle school classroom.

  • Teaching tactics: Strategies teachers can use to encourage critical thinking in class. For example, asking students to read the instructions of an assignment and then repeat them in their own words. Visit the page.
  • Remodeled lessons: How to take a routine lesson plan and remodel it to foster critical thinking. The page has five standard lesson plans, a critique of why they should be changed, and suggestions for improving the lesson plan. Visit the page.
  • 35 dimensions of critical thought: Strategies are organized into three groups: Affective, Cognitive Macro-Abilities, and Cognitive Micro-Skills. Each strategy details its importance for student development. Visit the page.

Success story: tips for teaching critical thinking

KIPP King Collegiate High School has developed 10 ideas for teaching critical thinking. These methods are applicable for middle school aged students, giving them exposure to thinking critically before arriving to high school. One notable technique from KIPP is to teach students to constantly ask questions. Visit the page.

Critical thinking in the 21st century

Microsoft Education offers material for teaching critical thinking for the 21st-century student. What’s special about this guide is its focus on thinking critically on the Internet. Lesson plans focus on fine-tuning search skills, how to evaluate discoveries and then incorporate findings in student work. Visit the site.

Creative and critical thinking activities

On teachers.net Gazette, a teacher named Emmy recommends five specific activities that are easy to use, take little preparation, and stimulate creative thinking. The most popular feature of this site is its teacher collaboration. Visit the page.

Back to basics

This site details the basics about critical thinking: what it is, the characteristics, and why it should be taught. It also provides several differing perspectives about critical thinking for readers to consider. Different teaching strategies are also discussed, plus links to helpful resources. Visit the site.

Riddle me that

BrainDen.com has a large number of critical-thinking riddles and brain teasers that can be used in the classroom. The answers are provided for the teacher as well as tips for stimulating further discussion on the topic. Teachers can use the exercises as warmup activities at the beginning of class, or at the end of class on days when work is unexpectedly completed early. Visit the site.

Brain boosters

Discovery Education has a “Brain Boosters” section listing specific logical thinking challenges and brain teasers that students love. The activities can be done with groups or individually. The answers are provided for the teacher. Visit the site.

Tags: Engaging Activities, Middle School (Grades: 6-8)

25 Of The Best Resources For Teaching Critical Thinking

by TeachThought Staff

The Stanford University Center for Professional Development recently developed a course of effective classroom in the classroom, and asked us to let you know about it.

This online course consists of three online sessions, three weeks in a row. Each session includes expert video screencasts, classroom video clips, readings and resources, and assignments that will prompt participants to strengthen the curricular foundations of communication the first month of school.

Session 1: Establishing a Classroom Culture of Conversation (August 2-8) – This session provides models and suggested activities for cultivating classrooms that value learning through constructive conversation.

Session 2: Creating Effective Conversation Prompts & Tasks (August 9-15) – This session focuses on how to look at a lesson, envision the conversational opportunities, and craft effective prompts for back and forth conversations between students.

Session 3: Preparing for Effective & Efficient Formative Assessment of Conversations (August 16-22) – The session prepares participants to (1) set up an assessment plan for assessing and reflecting on observations of paired student conversations, (2) provide right-now feedback to students during their conversations, and (3) reflect on conversation assessment to improve teaching and assessment.

See Also:10 Team-Building Games That Promote Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

As an organization, critical thinking is at the core of what we do, from essays and lists to models and teacher training. (You can check out What It Means To Think Critically for a wordier survey of the intent of critical thinking.)

For this post, we’ve gathered various critical thinking resources. As you’ll notice, conversation is a fundamental part of critical thinking, if for no other reason than the ability to identify a line of reasoning, analyze, evaluate, and respond to it accurately and thoughtfully is among the most common opportunities for critical thinking for students in every day life. Who is saying what? What’s valid and what’s not? How should I respond?

This collection includes resources for teaching critical thinking, from books and videos to graphics and models, rubrics and taxonomies to presentations and debate communities. Take a look, and let us know in the comments which you found the most–or least–useful.

25 Of The Best Resources For Teaching Critical Thinking

1. Course: Effective Conversation In The Classroom by Stanford University

2. A Collection Of Research On Critical Thinking by criticalthinking.org

3. The TeachThought Taxonomy for Understanding, a taxonomy of thinking tasks broken up into 6 categories, with 6 tasks per category

4. The Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Test (it’s not free, but you can check out some samples here)

5. It’s difficult to create a collection of critical thinking resources without talking about failures in thinking, so here’s A Logical Fallacies Primer in PowerPoint format.

6. 4 Strategies for Teaching With Bloom’s Taxonomy

7. An Intro To Critical Thinking, a 10-minute video from wireless philosophy that takes given premises, and walks the viewer through valid and erroneous conclusions

8. Why Questions Are More Important Than Answers by Terry Heick

9. A Printable Flip Chart For Critical Thinking Questions (probably easier to buy one for a few bucks, but there it is nonetheless)

11. A Collection Of Bloom’s Taxonomy Posters

12. 6 Facets of Understanding by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe

13. A 3D Model of Bloom’s Taxonomy

14. Helping Students Ask Better Questions

14. Examples Of Socratic Seminar-Style Questions (including stems) from changingminds.org

15. 20 Questions To Guide Inquiry-Based Learning, a 4-step process to guide learning through inquiry and thought

16. Socratic Seminar Guidelines by Grant Wiggins

17. How To Bring Socratic Seminars Into Your Classroom, a 7 minute video by the Teaching Channel

18. How To Teach With The Socratic Seminar Paideia Style, a PDF document by the Paideia that overviews

19. Using The QFT Model To Guide Inquiry & Thought

20. Create Debate, a website that hosts, well, debates

21. Intelligence Squared, Oxford-style debate hosted by NPR–and in podcast format, too

22. 60 Ways To Help Students Think For Themselvesby Terry Heick

23. A Rubric To Assess Critical Thinking (they have several free rubrics, but you have to register for a free account to gain access)

24. 25 Critical Thinking Apps For Extended Student Thought

25. Debate.org, another “debate” community that promotes topic-driven discussion and critical thought

And for something in the way of specific training for staff, there’s always Professional Development on Critical Thinking provided by TeachThought (full disclosure: we’re TeachThought).

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated us via payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will be good for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

25 Of The Best Resources For Teaching Critical Thinking

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