Critical Thinking Resources for Middle School TeachersBy Room 241 Team • November 9, 2012
Middle school teachers of all subjects are interested in fostering critical thinking in their classroom, but it’s not always an easy task to incorporate in the never-ending quest to match lesson plans to state learning standards. Here are seven resources that will easily add critical thinking to your lesson plans.
The Critical Thinking Community
The Critical Thinking Community is a resource site designed to encourage critical thinking in students. There are teaching strategies, a glossary of important terms, as well as articles by thought leaders in critical thinking, such as one by Bertrand Russell on the importance of developing critical thinking skills. Visit the site.
Here are some recommended pages for critical thinking strategies for the middle school classroom.
- Teaching tactics: Strategies teachers can use to encourage critical thinking in class. For example, asking students to read the instructions of an assignment and then repeat them in their own words. Visit the page.
- Remodeled lessons: How to take a routine lesson plan and remodel it to foster critical thinking. The page has five standard lesson plans, a critique of why they should be changed, and suggestions for improving the lesson plan. Visit the page.
- 35 dimensions of critical thought: Strategies are organized into three groups: Affective, Cognitive Macro-Abilities, and Cognitive Micro-Skills. Each strategy details its importance for student development. Visit the page.
Success story: tips for teaching critical thinking
KIPP King Collegiate High School has developed 10 ideas for teaching critical thinking. These methods are applicable for middle school aged students, giving them exposure to thinking critically before arriving to high school. One notable technique from KIPP is to teach students to constantly ask questions. Visit the page.
Critical thinking in the 21st century
Microsoft Education offers material for teaching critical thinking for the 21st-century student. What’s special about this guide is its focus on thinking critically on the Internet. Lesson plans focus on fine-tuning search skills, how to evaluate discoveries and then incorporate findings in student work. Visit the site.
Creative and critical thinking activities
On teachers.net Gazette, a teacher named Emmy recommends five specific activities that are easy to use, take little preparation, and stimulate creative thinking. The most popular feature of this site is its teacher collaboration. Visit the page.
Back to basics
This site details the basics about critical thinking: what it is, the characteristics, and why it should be taught. It also provides several differing perspectives about critical thinking for readers to consider. Different teaching strategies are also discussed, plus links to helpful resources. Visit the site.
Riddle me that
BrainDen.com has a large number of critical-thinking riddles and brain teasers that can be used in the classroom. The answers are provided for the teacher as well as tips for stimulating further discussion on the topic. Teachers can use the exercises as warmup activities at the beginning of class, or at the end of class on days when work is unexpectedly completed early. Visit the site.
Discovery Education has a “Brain Boosters” section listing specific logical thinking challenges and brain teasers that students love. The activities can be done with groups or individually. The answers are provided for the teacher. Visit the site.Tags: Engaging Activities, Middle School (Grades: 6-8)
Worksheets and No Prep Teaching Resources
Critical Thinking Skills Worksheets
Kids pick the pages to complete. Make as many as you want, a new workbook is created each time. The mixed critical thinking skills worksheets will ensure that your students will be sharp and ready for higher level thinking challenges! Brain teasers will become brain pleasers with these creative, stimulating worksheets that students will love to do just for fun.
When students are not taught critical thinking skills at the lower grade levels, teachers at higher grade levels (even at the college level) have to begin their teaching efforts here before they are able to begin core subject instruction. Fortunately, teaching critical thinking skills is anything but rote or boring, and is often best accomplished through games and puzzles. Students as young as preschool can begin learning critical thinking without being aware that they are doing anything other than completing fun games and worksheets. The earlier you start instruction in the area of critical thinking skills, the more naturally your students will begin to think this way in all of their subject areas.
Critical thinking is a vital skill that students need throughout their lives. These lively worksheets for first grade through high school cover a wide range of skills, from logic and sequencing to Sudoku, Masyu, and Hidato puzzle solving that will please and entertain students at any level.