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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

What is Critical Thinking? How do we teach it? And how does it fit into great PBL?

What is Critical Thinking? How do we teach it? And how does it fit into great PBL?

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Laura Thomas in another post in this group mentioned the Critical Skills Classroom model, and this reminded me of one of my favorite topics, both when I teach students and when I teach teachers about PBL—namely, Critical Thinking. Education has been talking about Critical Thinking for centuries it seems, yet do we have a good definition for what it is? More importantly, do we have a good set of tools and ideas with which to teach it? And perhaps most importantly, do we know how to teach it to ALL students, not just the ‘better’ students? I have an article on some of these ideas (at least the definition part) that I would like to share with you, perhaps as a thought stimulator, but prior to that I would be really curious if any of you would like to share your thoughts as they stand currently. Any takers?

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Cristina Tuckness's picture
Cristina Tuckness
MarCom Specialist, Educator

One way to teach critical thinking skills is to incorporate Socratic Circles in class discussions. Asking higher level questions that require more synthesis and analysis rather than just recall can help students become more aware of their personal opinions. Inferencing and predicting throughout reading, fiction or non-fiction, math problems or science projects can also help students build such skills. The scientific process is a set of critical thinking skills students must use in a pre-determined manner, so practicing such steps can help get students into the mind-frame when going about other tasks. Using peers as a resource for understanding and synthesis is important for students who need continual practice at communicating ideas.

Here are a few resources on SC:

Socratic Circles: Fostering Critical and Creative Thinking in Middle and High School by Matt Copeland (Paperback)


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