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With the 21st century upon us and an increasing amount of information at our fingertips, it would be to our students' advantage to realize the importance of thinking critically. And, if part of our …

With the 21st century upon us and an increasing amount of information at our fingertips, it would be to our students' advantage to realize the importance of thinking critically. And, if part of our job as teachers is to prepare our students for life after formal education, then it is our duty to provide opportunities for students engage in higher order thinking.

This slide show supports critical thinking in the classroom and provides a sample lesson that requires students in 6 thru 8th grades to use higher order thinking in math and science.

Please be informed that a significant portion of the lesson was created by another individual as noted in the Source page that concludes the slide presentation.

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- 1. Critical Thinking...for LIFE.Karen Rice EDD 550
- 2. Teach your students to think critically. Withenough practice and by setting examples of howefficiency in thinking critically can empower themfor educational success and success in lifeendeavors, they will be encouraged to see criticalthinking as a tool to make the right decisionsand/or help them solve problems that requiredeeper, more analytical thought processes. Thepower and confidence gained by makinginformed decisions is a worthy reward.
- 3. Some students have the natural ability to ask highercognitive questions when evaluating experimentalfindings in science or solving math problems.However, many students do not have this innate skill andneed to learn how to ask higher order questions. Ateacher can encourage students to use critical thinking isby modeling these skills for her students. Students willinherently follow their teacher’s lead; this is why it isimportant to practice what we preach.
- 4. Why do we need to provide plenty of critical thinkingopportunities in science and math?The purpose of science is to learn about and understandthe world around us. And, in order to accomplishthis, we need to participate in activities and conductexperiments. As rookie scientists, students need toanalyze, synthesize, compare, question, drawconclusions, predict, and evaluate among other skills.They need to be able to figure out the accuracy of theirsolutions and findings. With maximum knowledge abouteach of the various science disciplines, humans can havehealthy and convenient living. In another branch ofscience, we have engineering. Engineers solve problemsand design solutions to meet human needs. Higher orderthinking and engineering go hand- in- hand.
- 5. Critical thinking opportunities in math are equallynecessary. Memorizingformulas, theorems, postulates, and equations willonly take the learner so far. Students who aresuccessful in math have general math sense thatthey can apply in their higher order thinking.Critical thinking in math deals with understandingrelationships and the whys, and hows, and ifs.When presented with a problem, an effectivemath student will be able to comprehend/processwhat the question is asking. The first step of aneffective math student is to understand theproblem; he would not just act spontaneously tocreate an algorithm that would satisfy only onepart of the problem.
- 6. Where do we find opportunities to encouragecritical thought processes?In the following (grades 6 thru 8) lesson thatintegrates math, earth science, and geographystudents need to use critical thought processes tolearn and understand the reasons for the climatedifferences among three United States regions:Denver, New Orleans, and Phoenix.
- 7. Denver (an inland city)New Orleans (located on the Gulf)Phoenix (located on the Sonoran Desert)
- 8. Within this lesson there will be opportunities forcritical thinking related to both math and science.The students will learn how meteorologistscollect different kinds of weather data, includingtemperatures and rainfall that occur on a dailyand/or monthly basis. With this information, thestudents will create a graph that compares thesethree climates.
- 9. To begin, we can encourage critical thinking by asking the studentsto make predictions about the cities’ climates and to support theirpredictions with statements of reason. In order to makepredictions and to reason, students will need to access their priorknowledge: Lower cognitive knowledge, such as knowing facts (i.e.I know that land next to bodies of water have more moisture andrainfall.) assists the learner with higher cognitive learning (criticalthinking). And, in this lesson, prior knowledge pertaining to thegeographic location of these cities becomes useful for criticalthought (reasoning for the purpose of making predictions) as well.Are they near the equator where temps are warmer and/orhumidity is higher? Reasonably, there is still an obvious need forlower cognitive learning in classrooms as well. For withoutknowledge of facts and basic understanding of why things are theway they are, the ability to think critically is compromised.
- 10. Critical thinking can open the lesson: What kinds ofanimals and plants grow in the desert? Why?Ask students to look at the data on the average daily hightemperatures chart . Ask if someone can interpret andexplain what these temperatures mean. Explain that dailyhigh temperatures are averaged together to find the averagemonthly temperatures. Ask students to choose a month ortwo from the average daily high temperatures chart andcalculate the monthly average. They can check theiranswers on the monthly averages chart . Have students notethe rainfall data on the chart. The rainfall data for eachmonth was averaged together to get these figures in thesame way that students have just averaged thetemperatures.*right-click to open hyperlinks, please.
- 11. Sources:• Cotton, Kathleen, Classroom Questioning, NorthWest Regional Educational Laboratory.• Paul, Richard, Critical Thinking: How to PrepareStudents for a Rapidly ChangingWorld, Foundation for Critical Thinking.• Alabama Learning Exchangehttp://alex.state.al.us/plans2.php?std_id=40896• National Geographic Education natgeoed.org• Xpedition-http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/hall/

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