WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING?


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1 Integrating Critical Thinking Skills into the Standard Curriculum Bob Iseminger, Pieces of Learning, IAGC, 02/09/16 WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING? Accepting ideas and acting on them is the primary way that we progress through our lives. Unless we can assess which ideas are responsible and which are not, we run the risk of acting on ideas that are incorrect. When we engage in critical thinking, we assess the reasonableness of ideas. Critical thinking is what helps ensure that the judgments we have made are more likely to be correct than incorrect. Thus, we cannot expect to make sound judgments if we accept everything we hear or act upon every idea that pops into our heads. Critical thinking has been described in different ways: as the evaluation of reasoning and argument. as reasonable, reflective thinking directed at deciding what to believe or do. as the application of standards (selfimposed or otherwise) to our judgments. What all of these descriptions have in common is that, before we accept the judgment, we should be sure that it is supported by good reasons. Clearly, assessing the reasonableness of ideas requires that we use acceptable standards. These standards can be set by oneself, by family or community, by experts in a field of study, by the state or national government, or by society as a whole. The standards we choose can literally come from any source, as long as they are generally viewed as acceptable by those applying them. Critical thinking also involves attitudes and dispositions. Critical thinkers search for reasons. They do so with open minds, looking for all of the reasons (both pro and con) before accepting an idea as feasible. They are willing to suspend judgment if they can find no reasons to support an idea, and they are willing to change their minds if they are presented with new evidence. Critical thinkers even subject the standards themselves to this scrutiny. The critical thinking skills most frequently needed in our lives fall into two categories: skills related to basic information that we get from a variety of sources; in these instances, we are determining the accuracy of recorded observations and determining the reliability of the sources. skills related to inferences, in which we draw conclusions that we do not verify directly from the primary information source or in which we deduce conclusions. Examples of these skills include explaining causes, making predictions, making generalizations, and reasoning by analogy.
2 THE BRAIN SUPPORTS MANY TYPES OF LEARNING Sensitization... an increased response to stimulus over baseline Procedural... learning that is contained within physical movements (skills, habits, etc.) Habituation... a reduced response to the same stimuli through repeated exposure Subperceptual... acquired learning below conscious awareness (from the senses) Episodic... spatial knowledge based on the where question and the environment Conditioned, reflexive... a learned response from stimulus conditioning Generalizations... the learning derived from an experience and applied to others Imitation... the learning of a behavior based on observation of another Associative learning... the binding of two elements: word, object, or event Semantic... The acquisition of words, facts, pictures, or representations (knowledge) Extinction... when no response occurs, yet there used to be a response from stimuli
3 THE BRAIN S FIVE MEMORY SYSTEMS PROCEDURAL MEMORY  Very braincompatible. This memory uses the whole body, or parts of the body, to assist in storing content or skills. Example: WORKING MEMORY  What you are aware of at the moment. Working memory can only store 10 items at any one given time. Example: SEMANTIC MEMORY  The least braincompatible. This memory stores individual facts isolated from context. A fact is remembered, but one doesn t know where it was learned. Example: EPISODIC MEMORY  The most braincompatible. This is memory associated with where you were when the learning occurred. Example: SPATIAL MEMORY  Remembering the physical relationship (distance and orientation) of objects to each other. It's thought that your aptitude for spatial memory is linked to your preference for visual or verbal thinking. Someone who thinks in pictures will usually fare better on spatial memory tests than someone who's internal monologue is expressed mostly in words. Example:
4 BLOOM S REVISED TAXONOMY Creating Generating new ideas, products, or ways of viewing things Designing, constructing, planning, producing, inventing. Evaluating Justifying a decision or course of action Checking, hypothesising, critiquing, experimenting, judging Analyzing Breaking information into parts to explore understandings and relationships Comparing, organiizng, deconstructing, interrogating, Applying Using information in another familiar situation Implementing, carrying out, using, executing Understanding Explaining ideas or concepts Interpreting, summarizing, paraphrasing, classifying, explaining Remembering Recalling information Recognising, listing, describing, retrieving, naming, finding
5 Bloom s Question Starters For Higher Order Critical Thinking Bloom s Question Starter List This list moves through 6 levels of questions. The first three levels are considered lower order questions; the final three levels are considered higher order. Higher order questions are what we use for Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving. I have written what each level of questions are about, given lists of key words that can be used to begin a question for that level, and I have listed Question Starters. You can use this chart to create questions that are specific to your novel. Level 1: Remember Recalling Information List of key words: Recognize, List, Describe, Retrieve, Name, Find, Match, Recall, Select, Label, Define, Tell What is...? Who was it that...? Can you name...? Describe what happened after... What happened after...? Level 2: Understand Demonstrate an understanding of facts, concepts and ideas List of key words: Compare, Contrast, Demonstrate, Describe, Interpret, Explain, Extend, Illustrate, Infer, Outline, Relate, Rephrase, Translate, Summarize, Show, Classify Can you explain why...? Can you write in your own words? Write a brief outline of... Can you clarify...? Who do you think? What was the main idea? Level 3: Apply Solve problems by applying knowledge, facts, techniques and rules in a unique way List of key words: Apply, Build, Choose, Construct, Demonstrate, Develop, Draw, Experiment with, Illustrate, Interview, Make use of, Model, Organize, Plan, Select, Solve, Utilize Do you know of another instance where...? Demonstrate how certain characters are similar or different? Illustrate how the belief systems and values of the characters are presented in the story. What questions would you ask of...? Can you illustrate...? What choice does... (character) face?
6 Level 4: Analyze Breaking information into parts to explore connections and relationships List of key words: Analyze, Categorize, Classify, Compare, Contrast, Discover, Divide, Examine, Group, Inspect, Sequence, Simplify, Make Distinctions, Relationships, Function, Assume, Conclusions Which events could not have happened? If... happened, what might the ending have been? How is... similar to...? Can you distinguish between...? What was the turning point? What was the problem with...? Why did... changes occur? Level 5: Evaluate Justifying or defending a position or course of action List of key words: Award, Choose, Defend, Determine, Evaluate, Judge, Justify, Measure, Compare, Mark, Rate, Recommend, Select, Agree, Appraise, Prioritize, Support, Prove, Disprove. Assess, Influence, Value Judge the value of... Can you defend the character s position about...? Do you think... is a good or bad thing? Do you believe...? What are the consequences...? Why did the character choose...? How can you determine the character s motivation when...? Level 6: Create Generating new ideas, products or ways of viewing things List of key words: Design, Construct, Produce, Invent, Combine, Compile, Develop, Formulate, Imagine, Modify, Change, Improve, Elaborate, Plan, Propose, Solve What would happen if...? Can you see a possible solution to...? Do you agree with the actions?...with the outcomes? What is your opinion of...? What do you imagine would have been the outcome if... had made a different choice? Invent a new ending. What would you cite to defend the actions of...? (Source: Pohl, Learning to Think, Thinking to Learn)
7 Consider the following questions relating to a unit on the Revolutionary War era and determine whether you believe them to be lower (L) or higher (H) level questions. What are three significant events that lead to the beginning of the Revolutionary War? What do you think would have happened if the British had won the Revolutionary War? Who was the commanding general of the Patriot troops? If you were attending the Continental Congress, how would you travel from Boston to Philadelphia? What proposal would you have made to encourage the colonies to break away from England? What were the consequences of the Boston Tea Party? How would you describe the location of the British and Colonial troops during the battle of Yorktown? What was the difference between a Patriot and a Loyalist? Which of the thirteen colonies was the wealthiest before the war began? Why was our war with the British considered a revolution?
8 Prompts for Higher Order Oral Questioning How is similar to / different from? What are the characteristics of? In what other ways might we show / illustrate? What is the big idea / key concept / moral in? How does relate to? What ideas / details can you add to? Give an example of? What is wrong with? What conclusions might be drawn from? What problem are we trying to solve? What might happen if? What criteria would you use to judge / evaluate? What evidence supports? How might we prove? How might this be viewed from the point of view of? What alternatives / different ways might be considered to? What approach / strategy could you use to? Understanding by Design, Wiggins & McTighe
9 Geometry Questions 1. Why is picturing an object, whether on paper or in the mind, such an important part of geometric reasoning? 2. Geometry is one of the earliest fields of mathematics. Why has geometry been important to humans from our earliest beginnings? 3. An old wives tale states that if you are successful with algebra, you will struggle with geometry, and if you are successful with geometry, you will struggle with algebra. What is your response to this folklore? 4. In our technological age, which is of greater value, 2dimensional geometry or 3dimensional geometry? 5. Considering all the different subject areas that exist in mathematics, geometry has the most profound impact on our everyday lives. How would you argue to support this statement? 6. Why is the understanding of lines and angles necessary to the study of all other areas in geometry? 7. How would you explain in words the difference between a measure of 3 inches and a measure of 3 square inches? 8. When you consider triangles, quadrilaterals, and circles, which would you say is the most important geometric shape? 9. What is the relationship between geometry and engineering? Geometry and computer programming? Geometry and medicine? 10. Socrates said of lines and plane and solid figures, I affirm them to be not only relatively beautiful, like other things, but they are eternally and absolutely beautiful, and they have peculiar pleasure. Does his connection between geometry and beauty still apply to our modern concept of geometry? More questions: The Teacher s Book of BIG Questions Pieces of Learning
10 Collaborative Critical Thinking Activities Roving Exchanges. This is a good way to stimulate movement in the room and to help those quiet students engage in dialogue. Divide the class into groups of four when possible. Several groups of three are more desirable than a group of five. The teacher asks an openended question related to the unit s content. Students then discuss a response, with a facilitator making sure that everyone shares at least one idea and listens to what was discussed within the group. Students are told that someone in each group will have to summarize the discussion. As modeled in the session, a student from each group is picked to travel to a new group to share the summarization. The new group then compares/contrasts their previous discussion with what they just heard summarized from another group. In the math classroom, this activity can be adapted to solving word problems. Each group gets a different word problem, based on the unit of study, and the student who moves must verbally explain to the new group how the previous group solved the problem. Take a Stand. Students move to place themselves on a value line that shows the position they take on a given issue raised by the content. Students who feel strongly about the issue on either side will line up at opposite ends of the value line, while those with moderated feelings line up in between. To engage students in productive discussion, split the line in half and have students slide down to determine a partner. This will be modeled during the session. Partners then discuss two issues. They first explain to each other why they took the position that they did in the value line. Next, they find one area concerning the topic under discussion on which they can reach consensus. Cultivating Classroom Conversation Pieces of Learning
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