"Top 10 Strategies for Building Students' Critical Thinking" (online article) outlines activities to get students " analyzing, questioning and challenging situations, issues, and information of all kinds" -- activities that will both "change classroom dynamics and have a profound impact on learning."
1. Socratic Seminars
- "Students are asked to read and respond to a text assigned by the teacher and then prepare themselves for class discussion."
- "Students are expected to listen to and respond to their peers, and each student participates in the conversation while the teacher facilitates discussion and remains neutral."
3. "Encouraging Creativity"
- "Rather than providing detailed directions for students to complete an activity, simple make available any necessary materials, then step back and allow [students] to use their creativity."
- "Teachers might be surprised at the quality of work that students can produce when they control their own learning."
- "Sandra Kaplan introduced 11 depth and complexity icons, including big idea, details, ethics, unanswered questions, rules, patterns, trends and the language of the discipline."
- "These icons help stimulate in-depth analysis."
5. "Compare and Contrast"
6. "Literature Circles"
- "When discussing the text with others, ... people are motivated to delve deeper and think critically about issues they may not have considered on their own."
- "Debates sharpen students’ ability to persuade an audience regarding a given stance on a topic."
- "[They] must be prepared for rebuttal, which means they’re always 'thinking on their feet.'"
- "Debates force students not only to think critically, but to listen carefully and speak articulately."
8. "Instant Challenges"
- "Working as a group, students must complete a challenge within a short amount of time, then present their work to the class, which judges their performance."
- "Small groups get basic task parameters, but not specific instructions on how to complete their challenge."
9. "Open-Ended Questioning"
- "Students are accustomed to hearing questions that have only one possible answer."
- "Asking students open-ended questions will enable them to think at a higher level and should also foster more intriguing conversation."
10. "Reciprocal Teaching"
- "Break students into small groups of four, where each has a role as a summarizer, question generator, clarifier or predictor. Students will also take turns as the guide."
- "The purpose of reciprocal teaching is encouraging students to participate in discussion and think deeply about what they are reading."