Critical thinking is more than just being able to think clearly about a topic or a problem. It is a crucial life skill that every student must learn.
Many of our students will not learn this essential skill at home, so it becomes extraordinarily important to increase critical thinking at school. (In the meantime, you can get parents more engaged with our Parent Accounts.)
Teachers have actually been using Studies Weekly to incorporate critical thinking skills in their classrooms for decades. Here are some ideas that we’ve come across.
1. Start by Asking a Question
The easiest way to increase critical thinking in your students is to begin your lesson with an open-ended question. The question should require some research and problem solving.
One thing we encourage teachers to do is have students read an article out of their Studies Weekly and discuss it as a class. What are the similarities between the people in the article and your students? What might your students do differently for alternative outcome?
2. Have Students Collaborate
Collaboration is not only an essential skill for critical thinking, but it will serve your students well to learn now how to cooperate with peers. As students gather around their Studies Weekly and discuss a problem, they are able to come to conclusions and process information by learning from their peers.
3. Hold a Mock Debate
Holding a debate is a great way to increase critical thinking about both sides of an issue. Take an issue from your Studies Weekly publications for the week and have students discuss each side. Ask a question and have students take turns debating their stance.
If students are up for it (older kids might be “too cool” at this point so gauge what will work best for your class!), you could even have them role play both sides. Seeing it from another perspective can be a great way to get students thinking analytically and creatively about a problem or issue.
4. Increase Critical Thinking Through Information Fluency
Information fluency is a key ingredient in critical thinking. This involves knowing how to use the information you gather to determine what is useful and appropriate, and what is not. When you ask your question at the beginning of the lesson, pull out some phrases from the Studies Weekly text and write them on the board. Have students decide based on the question which pieces of information are useful and which are not.
5. Teach Open-Ended Problem-Solving
Assign a student or a group of students a problem. Perhaps they have to build a tower or hat out of unrelated out of unrelated, very different ingredients. The goal of the project is to get students learning how to problem solve. There will be a lot of trial and error and discovery, as students are forced to try different things to accomplish the goal.
Critical thinking is an essential skill for your students to have a successful adult life. For more of our classroom ideas and to download some free lesson plans, subscribe to our newsletter. Or you can sign up for a free trial of Studies Weekly.