TeachersFirst's Critical Thinking

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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. 

If you are looking for larger collections, explore our complete lists for Computational Thinking, Problem Solving, and Critical Thinking.  

         

     

 

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Extra, Extra, Read All About It: Looking at Current Events with an Analytical Eye - TeachersFirst

Grades
4 to 12
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Perception is reality. Use this extensive collection of resources to teach students to think critically about the world around them. In addition to background knowledge, this resource...more
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Perception is reality. Use this extensive collection of resources to teach students to think critically about the world around them. In addition to background knowledge, this resource provides activities that promote critical thinking. Take advantage of the many ideas found to explore relationships between concepts, collaborate with others, and use evidence to create questions for any topic. Use the specific book titles and correlated activities to incorporate critical thinking skills and apply learning to current issues of interest.

tag(s): climate change (74), critical thinking (100), immigrants (27), native americans (81), point of view (7), racism (68)

In the Classroom

Use 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.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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OK2Ask: Facts Are Facts...Aren't They? - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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This recording of an OK2Ask online professional learning session is from July 2021. You can register and immediately view the archive of the session.

Can your students tell

...more
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This recording of an OK2Ask online professional learning session is from July 2021. You can register and immediately view the archive of the session.

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.

tag(s): media literacy (88), professional development (262)

In the Classroom

The 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.

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Thinkalong - Conneticut Public

Grades
6 to 12
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Improve and build students' critical thinking skills, debate skills, and media literacy using Thinkalong. Present students with provocative questions such as "Should performance-enhancing...more
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Improve and build students' critical thinking skills, debate skills, and media literacy using Thinkalong. Present students with provocative questions such as "Should performance-enhancing drugs be allowed in professional sports? Should schools provide a laptop and internet for every student? Should social media companies be allowed to sell your data?" to name a few of the many topics. Topics focus on science, social studies, and current events. After clicking a topic, find three main categories: Teachers (a teacher's guide), Investigate (usually a graphic organizer), and Contemplate (question the authorship, format, audience purpose, etc.). However, that's not all! Under those categories, you'll find even move resources listed as Watch, Listen, Think Deep, and Contemplate (deeper thinking questions about the message); after all this, students have the opportunity to test their opinions through a structured debate in class or online with another class. Although the resource states it's for middle school students, these lessons could easily be adapted for high school.

tag(s): critical thinking (100), debate (37), inquiry (22), media literacy (88), news (235)

In the Classroom

Whether 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.

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Project Look Sharp - Project Look Sharp, Ithaca College

Grades
K to 12
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Project Look Sharp promotes media literacy education and critical thinking skills through the offering of curriculum kits for classrooms in grades K-12; to find the kits click the Free...more
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Project Look Sharp promotes media literacy education and critical thinking skills through the offering of curriculum kits for classrooms in grades K-12; to find the kits click the Free Materials button. The free kits include teacher guides, handouts, assessments, and correlating digital media. Browse through all available kits, or filter by grade level or Common Core Standard. Each kit is available for download in its entirety or download individual lessons as desired; registration is required. Lesson contents cover a variety of topics including Global Warming, Presidential Campaigns, and Social Justice. Be sure to look through other sections of the site including professional development information and links to handouts from Project Look Sharp's presentations.

tag(s): american revolution (74), climate change (74), critical thinking (100), environment (220), martin luther king (32), media literacy (88), middle east (37), nutrition (132), OER (31), presidents (115), russia (30), social media (46)

In the Classroom

Become 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. Use Vocabulary.com, reviewed here, to introduce and develop vocabulary during individual activities. This tool allows you to enhance classroom technology use and create assignments using individual vocabulary lists then provide feedback and options for student revisions and peer feedback. Incorporate images with annotations to help students understand "big picture" ideas using ThingLink, reviewed here. For younger students create a ThingLink together as a class to add text, video, and more to images. Ask older students to create their own ThingLink 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, ThingLink 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!
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Fiskkit - John Pettus

Grades
6 to 12
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Think of Fiskkit as a social media tool for sharing, discussing, and evaluating online articles similar to marking up a paper with a red pen. Copy and paste the URL ...more
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Think of Fiskkit as a social media tool for sharing, discussing, and evaluating online articles similar to marking up a paper with a red pen. Copy and paste the URL for a news story into Fiskkit to input into the site. Once available, click on any sentence to rate or tag information as true/false, descriptive, or complimentary. Share the article with others to evaluate then view the graph showing tag distribution. After sharing the article with your class use your account to see student names that read the article, organize comments, and open individual sentences for classroom discussion. At the time of this review, Fiskkit works best in Edge and FireFox browsers.

tag(s): critical thinking (100), journalism (66), media literacy (88), news (235), newspapers (90)

In the Classroom

Use 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 SearchTeam, reviewed here. SearchTeam offers you tools to bookmark and save websites, with the additional feature of allowing participants to add comments to saved information. SearchTeam 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.

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Global Problem Solvers - Cisco

Grades
4 to 8
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Global Problem Solvers is a free program designed as a supplemental resource for grades 4-8 to teach global social responsibility. The program features two seasons of materials with...more
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Global Problem Solvers is a free program designed as a supplemental resource for grades 4-8 to teach global social responsibility. The program features two seasons of materials with seven episodes per season. Within each episode, Global Problem Solvers travels the world through videos solving problems while encouraging participants to become problem-solvers and critical thinkers. The series includes teacher's guides for both seasons, storyboards, and scripts.

tag(s): character education (64), critical thinking (100), cross cultural understanding (146), Problem Based Learning (10), problem solving (214), sociology (22)

In the Classroom

Include 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 Thinglink, reviewed here, to add text, videos, and audio 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.
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Extreme Event - Koshland Science Museum

Grades
8 to 12
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Extreme Event is a crisis problem-solving game for groups of 12 or more players with a minimum age of 14 years old. Facilitators set up a room and time for ...more
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Extreme Event is a crisis problem-solving game for groups of 12 or more players with a minimum age of 14 years old. Facilitators set up a room and time for participants, and games typically take about an hour to complete. Choose from three scenarios - hurricane, flood, or earthquake. Download all game materials from the site including PDF cards, sounds, and visual effects. The videos in the classroom activity section reside on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable.

tag(s): critical thinking (100), earthquakes (42), floods (11), hurricanes (28), logic (164), problem solving (214)

In the Classroom

Use 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 use Lucidpress, 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.
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Mind Over Media - Media Education Lab

Grades
6 to 12
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Learn to recognize the power of communication and understand today's "new" forms of propaganda through critical analysis and discussion using tools found on Mind Over Media. Browse...more
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Learn to recognize the power of communication and understand today's "new" forms of propaganda through critical analysis and discussion using tools found on Mind Over Media. Browse through the site to learn the four techniques used to influence others along with specific examples. Be sure to check out the section for teachers that includes a complete six-lesson curriculum aligned to Common Core and other National Standards. Share a link to this site for parents to use as a resource for discussing ways people try to influence teens at home. The videos reside on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable.

tag(s): advertising (24), critical thinking (100), OER (31), propaganda (10)

In the Classroom

Discover 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 XMind, reviewed here, to create a chart or mind map to make the comparison.

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ThinkCerca - ThinkCerca

Grades
4 to 12
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Sign up for ThinkCerca's eight free starter lessons and get your students on the road to better critical thinking, close reading, and academic writing. Find a starter kit with 8 ...more
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Sign up for ThinkCerca's eight free starter lessons and get your students on the road to better critical thinking, close reading, and academic writing. Find a starter kit with 8 lessons teaching students the art of argumentation. Each lesson is 30 minutes long. These lessons contain standards-aligned literacy concepts and vocabulary. Start with Cerca's baseline assessment for writing, and then proceed with the lessons in order since the lessons build on each other. Sign up with your email, first and last name, and school zip code. Create your class or classes, and have students enroll via a class code. Find prompts for ELA, Science, and Social Studies. and Math. The support section has several categories which include specific help directions, and also includes Instructional Strategies, Personalized Learning Models, and Tips and Resources.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): classroom management (140), expository writing (31), persuasive writing (51), reading comprehension (123), writing (283)

In the Classroom

Students will need to click Sign Up and "I'm a Student." Students will enter their first name and last name so be sure you have parent permission. They will also need an email address. There is a work-a-round for the names and email address. For the first and last name you could have them enter a code, for example, the first two letters of their last name and first three letters of their first name. If students cannot have their own email accounts, ThinkCerca has a suggestion or consider using a "class set" of Gmail subaccounts, explained here; this tells how to set up Gmail subaccounts to use for any online membership service. Once your students have worked through the eight lessons here, you may want to look at 301 Prompts for Argumentative/Persuasive Writing, reviewed here, to help you differentiate future writing lessons.

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Odd Squad - Odd Squad

Grades
1 to 4
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Odd Squad had its start with the television series Odd Squad on PBS Kids. Join the squad as an agent to solve challenges using reasoning and math skills to "put ...more
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Odd Squad had its start with the television series Odd Squad on PBS Kids. Join the squad as an agent to solve challenges using reasoning and math skills to "put things right again." The activities promote a variety of levels to differentiate for each student. The interactive activities strengthen reasoning and challenge an understanding of math concepts. Find episodes of Odd Squad, the Wall of Agents, and the Wall of Villains on this site and bring the television series to life. After registering, earn agent awards for achievements.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): critical thinking (100), logic (164), problem solving (214)

In the Classroom

Challenge 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.

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Quandary - Learning Games Network

Grades
3 to 9
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Quandary is an online simulation in ethical decision-making while building a new colony on the planet Braxos. Face decisions without right or wrong answers but that have implications...more
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Quandary is an online simulation in ethical decision-making while building a new colony on the planet Braxos. Face decisions without right or wrong answers but that have implications on you and others in the colony. This activity was created for students ages 8-14. Login is optional to save scores or play as a guest. The game includes three different episodes with each containing different scenarios for decision-making. View information on the game, extension questions and more within the teachers and parents portions of the site. Find lesson plans, standards mapping (matched to Common Core ELA standards), and printable materials within the teachers section for classroom use. Don't miss the introduction videos explaining the site!

tag(s): creativity (90), critical thinking (100), ethics (23), game based learning (158)

In the Classroom

Try 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 and share them on a site such as TeacherTube reviewed here to explain the decision-making process for different scenarios.

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Murder at the Met: An American Art Mystery - The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Grades
5 to 12
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Find a mystery in art, and use art to solve the mystery. Tour American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts that reside at The Metropolitan Museum of Art to solve the ...more
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Find a mystery in art, and use art to solve the mystery. Tour American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts that reside at The Metropolitan Museum of Art to solve the murder of Virginie Gautreau AKA Madame X, painted by John Singer Sargent. The scenario is an evening gala in 1899, and you put clues together using either your mobile devices or a computer. Players must examine the art work since you are witnesses. There are possible weapons and crime scenes. There are three possible avenues to take to reach the solution, so the game can be played multiple times.

tag(s): art history (74), artists (72), critical thinking (100), interactive stories (18), mysteries (18), thinking skills (11)

In the Classroom

Whether 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. Writing with Writers, reviewed here, is just the place to give you some ideas! On the left menu find Projects by Subject and Mystery Writing. Challenge gifted students to create similar mysteries using subject matter in any science or social studies class.

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Thou shalt not commit logical fallacies - Jesse Richardson, Andy Smith, Sam Meadon

Grades
6 to 12
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Find a clickable, online poster explaining the most common logical fallacies. Simply rolling your cursor over the icon for the fallacy will give a definition. Click on it to find ...more
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Find a clickable, online poster explaining the most common logical fallacies. Simply rolling your cursor over the icon for the fallacy will give a definition. Click on it to find a further explanation and an example. Reducing each fallacy to a single simple sentence makes these easier to understand, and the examples given are amusing. There is also a free downloadable PDF of all the fallacies and their explanations presented on this site. A free poster in PDF format is available in three sizes. The free poster can be found at the bottom of the first page of this site.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): critical thinking (100), debate (37), logic (164), persuasive writing (51), reading comprehension (123), thinking skills (11)

In the Classroom

Most 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.

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ProCon - Procon.org

Grades
7 to 12
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Procon presents controversial issues in a non-partisan manner. Find current issues with balanced information to promote critical thinking without bias. Categories include Education,...more
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Procon presents controversial issues in a non-partisan manner. Find current issues with balanced information to promote critical thinking without bias. Categories include Education, Media & Entertainment, Sports, Science & Technology, among others. Issues can include Abortion, Euthanasia, Climate Change, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Health Care Reform, Obesity, and the Death Penalty, just to name a few. Read the information on each issue in a Pro and Con format along with background information, and included video clips. Some topics are controversial, so adults using this site with young people may want to go directly to a single issue rather than having them browse openly.

tag(s): climate change (74), critical thinking (100), debate (37), difficult conversations (44), persuasive writing (51), politics (100)

In the Classroom

Using 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 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. 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. 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.

Comments

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

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5 Minute Mystery - Mystery Competition, LLC

Grades
4 to 12
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This mystery reading game helps increase reading comprehension and critical thinking skills in an innovative way. The basic game is free. You can sign up to have two mysteries a ...more
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This mystery reading game helps increase reading comprehension and critical thinking skills in an innovative way. The basic game is free. You can sign up to have two mysteries a week sent to you, or you can use their archive. There is a "How to Play" section where you can view a video, open pdf instructions, or look at the instructions online. After reading a mystery you select the correct sentences that are clues, and select a character that the clue either exonerates or implicates. Points are awarded for each clue you get correct. For a fee, you can get a premium account that has graphic organizers, questions, and writing suggestions, however, this review is for the free, basic version. Even with the basic program, you can look under lesson plans and find objectives and ideas for your classroom and for creating leagues.

Bonus: There's an app for that! For the iphone, of course!
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tag(s): critical thinking (100), mysteries (18), reading comprehension (123), short stories (16)

In the Classroom

Use your projector and 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 Decide Already, reviewed here.

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The Critical Thinking Community - Foundation for Critical Thinking

Grades
K to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
  
The goal of this community is to improve education in all schools from elementary level through university level. The site offers many resources for teachers of all levels for improving...more
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The goal of this community is to improve education in all schools from elementary level through university level. The site offers many resources for teachers of all levels for improving critical thinking skills. Teachers may want to start at the "Where to Begin" section of the site then choose the appropriate grade level for his/her needs. This will lead to many links of resources such as lessons, a glossary of critical thinking terms, and articles to improve teaching of critical thinking. Some grade levels also include strategies and suggestions for students.

tag(s): critical thinking (100), enrichment (9), logic (164), teaching strategies (33)

In the Classroom

Share critical thinking strategies with students and create lists of how and when they are used in the classroom. Create a bulletin board with critical thinking strategies for your classroom. Use the lessons included on the site as a resource for lessons in your classroom. Bookmark this site and save it in your favorite's as a professional resource. Share suggested activities and resources with other staff members.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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