Critical Thinking Guidebook - K-5 (Elementary) Sun West

Critical Thinking Elementary K-5

Purpose

Why is this important?

Critical thinking is a key 21st Century skill that students need to embody in order to successfully ask questions before seeking and evaluating answers in order to reach creative solutions. Having the skills and abilities to identify issues, find evidence, reach conclusions, and evaluate evidence, allows students to be successful participants in the planning of their learning and assessment.

Key Steps in Teaching Critical Thinking Strategies:

1.       Isolate the skill needed to be taught.

2.       Provide students with direct teaching to learn strategies and practice self-awareness.

3.       Provide and allow opportunities for students to practice the skills and strategies, and reflect often.  This takes time at first, but students are rewarded for their efforts once they are able to master their practiced skill.

4.       Revisit strategies and skills often.

Explicit Teaching

To be able to learn and grow in 21st Century Competency understanding, it is important to teach each skill and let students experience what each skill looks like as well as how you can grow in each area. Caution: by simply saying the word "communication or collaboration...etc" students may not get a full understanding of each skill. Explicitly teaching and utilizing skills in different ways is what will ultimately promote deep understanding and growth in 21st Century Competencies.

Timeline Suggestions for Explicit Teaching

The document below provides a year plan to teach each of the 21st century skills. It is beneficial to have an explicit teaching plan to ensure each skill is taught; however skills should also be reinforced as much as possible throughout class time.

Lesson Plan Ideas

Video: What is Critical Thinking (Gr.2-4)

Video: Episode 1.1: Introduction to Critical Thinking (Gr. 3-6)

Video: 5 tips to improve your critical thinking (Gr.5+)

Video: Critical Thinking for Children- Introduction

Video: Critical Thinking for Children - Three Kinds of Thinkers

Research Skills Document: The following is a resource for teaching research skills to younger learners.  It looks at teaching them:

• How to ask a question
• How to search for information
• How to evaluate resources
• How to take notes
• How to share your learning

4 Levels of Questions

Evaluate Evidence

Credible Website

5 Tips for Teaching Students How to Research and Filter Information

Effective Online Research Skill Review (including how to evaluate a website)

Critical Evaluation of Information - surveys, resources, lesson plans, etc

Integration of Skills

Intentional integration of 21st Century Competency language in all day-to-day activities supports the development of routine reflection, skill use, and growth in support of curricular knowledge acquisition.

Why?

If we do not intentionally integrate 21st Century Competency connections into our learning environments, it is easy to forget about them. As the language becomes routine, growth in skills can and should be explored regularly. Ultimately the 21st Century Competencies are the skills needed to be successful in all day-to-day activities as well as future career opportunities. By being intentional in integrating the language and skill use in all aspects of learning, understanding of the skills can be applied and reflected upon to look for areas of potential growth and application.

How?

Once skills have been explicitly taught, integration of 21st Century Competencies can be achieved by connecting skills to all curricular areas, participating in pre-and post reflections (allowing students to predict which skills will be needed and subsequently which skills need to be worked on) and the use of 21st Century Competency rubrics to track growth. Example: by using learner profile data, students can reflect on which skills they need to employ for a particular activity and based on this information, choose group members that have strengths or challenges in those skill areas.

Examples

When integrating 21 Century Competency language in all areas of learning consider the following curricular connected resources. As you use similar resources in your own learning environment, how can you relate them back to growth and understanding of the 21 Century Competencies?

In ELA

Video: Teaching Critical Thinking to Kindergartens (GrK-2) (Lesson idea for teaching critical thinking during story time.)

ELA BDA Questions:

Videos to Support BDA Questions while Reading & Writing:

In Math

Number Talks By Sherry Parrish

Number Talks Resources:

Teachable moments

Whenever a question, situation, comment or activity that involves a connection to a 21 Century Competency arises, take a moment to talk to students about it. Discussing skills, how they integrate into everything you do in life makes the reflection on the importance of skills a habit. This habit will instill a growth mindset around developing skills to their fullest potential. Teachable moments can be as short as 20 seconds. Make it your habit and it will become theirs!

Tracking Growth

When considering 21st Century Competency application, it is essential for both the teacher and the student to track growth. There is clear potential for growth in skill use throughout our lives. To ensure growth and understanding of application is taking place, we can easily track progression using rubrics, checklists, and self-assessments.

Formative Assessment

Formative assessments of 21st Century Competencies include anecdotal documentation, self-assessments and rubric check-ins. These formative assessments provide snapshots of growth throughout the learning process and allow goal setting to take place.

See below for Self-Reflection and Goal Setting Documents: (rename below)

Goals

Assessing Growth

Daily Reflection Checklist

Summative Assessment

Exemplar Rubrics K-5

Critical Thinking K-5

Critical Thinking Exemplar Rubric K-5

Co-creating Rubrics

Exemplar rubrics have been developed for K-5, 6-9 and 10-12. To connect fully with students in their understanding of skill application and growth, a recommendation would be to re-write the rubric with the students to include their understanding of the skill, goals for integration in learning and commitment to the skill development.

Resources

Number Talks by Sherry Parrish

Print based

• More-Igami – Dori Kleber
• The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires
• What To Do With a Box?– Jane Yolen
• What Do You Do With An Idea? – Kobi Yamada
• Your Fantastic, Elastic Brain – JoAnn Deak
• The Thingamabob – Il Sung Na
• Rosie Revere, Engineer – Andrea Beaty
• Shh! We Have A Plan! – Chris Haughton

Interactive

Interactive Apps: Minecraft, Blockearth, Animate Me: For kids, Block Craft 3D: City Builder Simulator, The Sims, Township,

Educational Tools, Videos & Online Games: