TeachersFirst's Critical Thinking
Nurture critical thinking skills in your classroom using the resources shared in this collection. Critical thinking is a process that includes the ability to interpret, analyze, and evaluate information. Thinking critically requires students to infer and solve problems with an open mind. Students use critical thinking skills to observe, experience, communicate and reflect while reading and learning content. As contentious public events spill over into the classroom, teachers need to help students learn how to process perspectives that differ from their own. Use this collection as you are planning your lessons and activities.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomThe WORLD from A to Z doesn't provide critical thinking and discussion questions; the video content is provided for students to learn about news worldwide and to develop their own body of understanding about the content provided. Provide opportunities for students to explore the information in the videos through individual research and discussion. Find many ideas to encourage critical thinking at Extra, Extra, Read All About It: Looking at Current Events with an Analytical Eye, reviewed here. For older students, consider using The WORLD from A to Z as a model for an ongoing podcast featuring students discussing current events that affect them and their community. Buzzsprout, reviewed here features many free tools for creating and sharing podcasts.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomBookmark this site and frequently visit as you prepare lesson plans to enhance student learning and understanding of content. This site provides excellent information for professional development, either personally or with peers. Consider exploring one topic monthly throughout the school year to explore and integrate it into classroom routines.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomUse the information shared on the site to find resources and activities that teach students to think critically about their information. Take advantage of the suggested books and ideas that extend learning through the use of technology. Consider using Wakelet, reviewed here, as a curation tool to share information with students and to share your students' work products.
GradesK to 12
Can your students tell...more
Can your students tell facts from fiction? Do your digital natives suffer from "digital naivety"? They may be fluent enough with technology to create and post their own work but may not be aware that not everyone who posts online is credible. Teaching students to sift through multiple sets of information allows them to learn the difference between propaganda, advertising, and factual reporting. This is a skill that students need in order to be truly digitally literate. Join us to learn strategies to help your students determine if information is reliable. As a result of this session, teachers will: 1. Explore tools and strategies for teaching media literacy; 2. Learn strategies that promote critical examination of online resources; and 3. Plan a learning activity that fosters digital literacy. This session is appropriate for teachers at all technology levels.
In the ClassroomThe archive of this teacher-friendly, hands-on webinar will empower and inspire you to use learning technology in the classroom and for professional productivity. As appropriate, specific classroom examples and ideas have been shared. View the session with a few of your teaching colleagues to find and share new ideas. Find additional information and links to tools at the session resource page. Learn more about OK2Ask and upcoming sessions here.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomAdd this game to your toolkit of lessons and activities when teaching Internet safety and media literacy skills. The Teachers' Guide already includes many ideas on integrating the game into classroom lessons and includes using technology to enhance and extend learning. Use these ideas as a starting point to build student engagement and help them understand the real-world applications for the information found in the game. For example, use the suggested Padlet, reviewed here, activity to compile quiz questions as suggested in Activity 5. After completing that activity, have students create their own videos, fake social media posts, or news articles that contain misinformation and create quiz questions for their peers to complete. Adobe Creative Cloud Express for Education, reviewed here, is an excellent tool for students to use when creating websites, flyers, and infographics. As a final project, and to extend learning, have students share what they learned with others by producing podcasts using Buzzsprout, reviewed here, or digital books for younger students using Book Creator, reviewed here.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomWhether teaching in a classroom or online, scan the included PDF or Word documents into Google Classroom or your school student/teacher platform to share and assign to students. Enhance student learning by asking students to use highlighting and note-taking tools within their word document to provide documentation for their responses. To prepare students for Common Core Assessments on evidence and arguments, have them choose a popular topic, research it (with the materials provided) so they can provide evidence for their stance when writing about their opinion or to refute another's. The debate section is the perfect opportunity to teach students about countering an opposing opinion, deciding which is the strongest point, and then teach them how to address concerns of others in their writing or debate. For example, they can concede it is a valid point and then counter with another strong argument. Consider sharing the activities found on this site with your peers as a model for redesigning lessons you already use in your classroom (for online learning during absences and crises?). Use Padlet, reviewed here, to collaborate and share ideas, activities, and resources as you work toward incorporating inquiry lessons into your classrooms.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): american revolution (80), climate change (84), critical thinking (108), environment (233), martin luther king (41), media literacy (98), middle east (43), nutrition (133), OER (43), presidents (117), russia (33), social media (53)
In the ClassroomBecome acquainted with these free curriculum kits and lessons to integrate media literacy within content already taught in the classroom. As you teach lessons found on the site, incorporate technology to enhance learning and build student understanding by using Word Ahead, reviewed here, or WordSift, reviewed here, to introduce and develop vocabulary as a prereading strategy or older students can use either as they are reading. Incorporate images with annotations to help students understand "big picture" ideas using Image Annotator, reviewed here. For younger students create a Image Annotator as a class to add text, video, and more to images. Ask older students to create their own Image Annotator sharing information learned throughout your lessons. Be sure to share all of your images on your class website for students to view at any time. To transform classroom technology use and as a culminating activity, use a digital book creation tool like Book Creator, reviewed here, as an alternative assessment to quizzes or tests. Include student-created writing, Annotated images, and add videos with student commentary within each book. Be sure to provide students with your rubric to use as a guide before turning in digital books. Find many ideas for implementing rubrics for assessment along with examples and online tools at TeachersFirst Rubrics to the Rescue, reviewed here. Whether students work individually or in groups, be sure to share your new digital library related to your lesson topic with students to review and revisit at any time!
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomUse Fiskkit in your classroom to teach students critical thinking and analysis skills. Share current news articles weekly with students to evaluate and discuss. After students provide their input, share the results on your interactive whiteboard, or with a projector, to review and discuss the reactions as a group. As students evaluate articles, replace paper note cards and suggest they use an online note-taking tool similar to Webnote, reviewed here, to justify their answers on Fiskkit. Webnote allows you to add sticky notes on the computer workspace and share with others using the URL created. Challenge students to find articles they would like to discuss, save, and collaborate on using Raindrop,io, reviewed here. Raindrop.io offers you tools to bookmark and save websites, with the additional feature of allowing participants to add comments to saved information. Raindrop.io can be used for a variety of assignments in any classroom that is integrating technology as an enhancement. Instead of a written report, as students become more comfortable with evaluating online tools, ask them to use a multimedia presentation tool like Sway, reviewed here, to modify technology use and to discuss media bias and offer tips for evaluating online information.
Grades4 to 8
In the ClassroomInclude the videos and materials with your current lessons using problem-solving skills. View videos together as a class and have students work in groups to discuss questions found in the teacher's guide. This resource lends itself to problem based learning: Have students find an image of a current global problem and use Image Annotator, reviewed here, to add text and videos to discuss the problem and address possible solutions. Explore global issues further in depth with Google My Maps, reviewed here. Add pins onto Google Maps to share specific problems around the world and have students post their ideas for helping those in need.
Grades8 to 12
In the ClassroomUse the materials found on Extreme Event as a hands-on lesson in problem-solving, short and long term planning, and building community. Use an online tool such as Interactive Three Circle Venn Diagram, reviewed here, to compare and contrast different strategies needed to solve problems in different crisis situations. Challenge students to create a brochure or newsletter sharing their findings. Are you integrating technology in your class? Instead of the traditional paper brochure, enhance student learning by using Marq, reviewed here, or if you are more experienced use Sway, reviewed here, and create a newsletter. If you complete this activity with different classes, share results from the different games as part of your discussions on your problem-solving decisions.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomDiscover the many ready-to-go free lesson ideas to include with classroom discussions of propaganda and persuasive advertising techniques. Share the Learn section with students as part of a flipped lesson, then have students provide examples of propaganda they find on TV or the Internet. Ask students to find advertising demonstrating two opposing points of view, then, with younger or less technically experienced students, use an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram, reviewed here to compare and contrast information found. With older or more technically experienced students, use a tool such as Whimsical Mind Maps, reviewed here to create charts or a mind map to make the comparison.
Grades1 to 4
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In the ClassroomChallenge your math, science, and gifted classes with a variety of activities and provide differentiation for each student. Introduce Odd Squad on your interactive whiteboard to gain interest and excitement. Make center time engaging and beneficial for each student. Use cooperative learning groups to add more engagement and shared verbal reasoning into the interactives. Be sure to include this site on your class webpage for students to access both in and outside of class for further practice.
Grades3 to 9
In the ClassroomTry this activity on your interactive whiteboard (or projector). Create a quick poll (with no membership required) using Poll Everywhere, reviewed here, to view students' choices of actions to take throughout the game. Challenge cooperative learning groups to create videos using Adobe Creative Cloud Express Video Maker, reviewed here, explaining what they learned and sharing them on a site such as TeacherTube, reviewed here, to explain the decision-making process for different scenarios.
Grades5 to 12
In the ClassroomWhether teaching art history or a unit on mysteries and deductive reasoning, students will learn from using this program. Though there is a place for students to keep notes, they should also keep their own notes about the clues, especially why they chose the ones they mark "highly suspicious." Replace paper and pencil by using a tool like Memo Notepad, reviewed here, for digital note taking. If you and your students liked this site you might also enjoy "Mysterious Places: Ancient Civilizations Modern Mysteries," reviewed here, with its lovely photographs to go along with the mysteries. A natural follow up would be to have your students write their own mysteries. Expository Escapades - Detective's Handbook, reviewed here, is just the place to give you some ideas! Challenge gifted students to create similar mysteries using subject matter in any science or social studies class.
Grades6 to 12
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In the ClassroomMost academic writing presents a premise to be proved (an argument). When you first start to have your students try to understand logical fallacies, show them the online poster for logical fallacies and get them started trying to find these fallacies in their everyday lives. You could assign a fallacy a week and have students write in a journal, or a little tablet when they come across one. Or collect them on a class wiki with a page for each fallacy type. You could even have them make up their own logical fallacies. Have students create online posters on paper or do it together as a class using a tool such as Web Poster Wizard (reviewed here) or PicLits (reviewed here. After introducing logical fallacies, have students peer edit papers to make sure the writer is not trying to support one of these fallacies. Of course, any speech and debate, or media strategies class would benefit from a review this site. During political seasons, be sure to share this site for evaluating politicians' positions.
Grades7 to 12
In the ClassroomUsing controversial topics that have more than one side is a great way to develop critical thinking and problem solving. Find issues on this site that relate to your curriculum and use them as an entry point for a new unit. Use the teaching resources found on the top menu under the Teacher's Corner. Use this site to teach how to distinguish facts from opinions, using information to write essays or create speeches, or hold a class debate. You may want to facilitate student persuasive writing by using an outline such as Persuasion Map, reviewed here, to help them organize their thinking. Help students develop flexibility in their thinking by having them take part in a difficult conversation and argue a side they do NOT agree with. This will also help students think about how to refute a point the opposition will make. Focus on critical thinking with your students to develop skills needed for life. Use as a whole class activity or for individual students to find an issue of interest to them. Gifted students often think deeply on such issues at an early age and will find these topics of great interest. Use this site to guide a deliberate discussion or debate.
I also love this site, but I don't see any advertising on there at all. The site is free. Not sure how they stay afloat but I'm glad they do. For me, it is better than Opposing Viewpoints database for its depth, ease of use, and lack of registration/passwords. I use it for student debates on current events, and my wife (an English teacher) uses it for persuasive essays and role play debates.ProCon, , Grades: 0 - 12
I've used this and it's great! Balanced, has good resources. Helps students see both sides of an issue.Frances, CT, Grades: 6 - 8
Grades4 to 12
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In the ClassroomUse your projector or interactive whiteboard to show your students the directions for getting points by selecting the correct clues and solving the mystery. To begin with, as a class, read a mystery and discuss what the clues might be and whether they implicate or exonerate each suspect. Once the students have volunteered their ideas for which sentences are clues, submit them to see the score. The program will highlight the answers you should have had, if you got any wrong. Model for your students a discussion about why those are the correct answers and why the ones they submitted weren't. Eventually they can have this discussion by themselves in small groups. Those of you with multiple classes will want to create a league for each class.
Eventually you can have small groups of students compete against each other by creating leagues. Have your students come to consensus about the clue sentences and who the real perpetrator is by voting using Tricider, reviewed here, or Vevox, reviewed here.