so…what did we learn??

hi hello, welcome to the final blog post. at last!

i feel like this has been a long journey, but lbr, a lot of us are posting these frantically to hit that 4 post 10 comment minimum requirement!!! don’t be ashamed, it was bound to happen from the start, no matter how much prompting was given for us to start earlier. we made it.

anyway, here’s a funny video that is vaguely about critical thinking without being very serious or accurate, it’s just plain entertaining, and it’ll have you going “MEEEEE” at multiple points, so that’s fun.

so…what did we learn? not from the video, but like, the other blog posts in general. and even better, how can we apply this into our teaching practice? here i have some fun, quick, and easy steps to start teaching critical thinking.

  1. use think-alouds and questioning in your teaching
    •  just like the previous post with the woman reading aloud to her class, make short stops at different intervals to remind students to be thinking about the story in a critical way—in this case, by making questions. even prompting questions or deeper thinking by asking those through provoking questions aloud while you’re reading can help get the gears in motion. the more questioning we encourage, the more critical thinking skills are accessible.
  2. get creative with your check for understanding
    • my sponsor teacher does this funny thing where he randomly (but purposely) says the wrong thing—like substituting apple for orange—in a repeated instruction. that’s his quick and easy way of checking for understanding. lots of kids are super quick and responsive to things like this, the sillier the better. of course, this might not work in a really young class or a much older group, but i think the sweet spot sits between grades 2-5. it’s fun and easy and allows students who aren’t catching those changes to start to watch out for them, thus engaging them in listening. alternatively, it inadvertently forces kids to do that quick “wait…does that make sense?” check in their own heads. this leads to questions or, for more advanced critical thinkers, coming to a solution in a logical order.
  3.  use guided inquiry to challenge students perceptions
    • things like mystery doug/mystery science are great examples of guided inquiry lessons that scaffold and engage students while also presenting them with inquiry-based learning that can challenge common perceptions kids may subscribe to. presenting students with commonly believed myths or ideas and then providing them with the evidence and tools to disprove this can help students naturally end up at these conclusions themselves. instead of telling students that light travels in a linear path, have them explore that idea and come to that conclusion themselves. it’s far more engaging and far more interesting.
  4. in the vice versa of the previous, present students with the challenge of disproving perceptions
    • one example of this is having students work in pairs or groups to make a project for why recess shouldn’t be banned in schools, or doing an “adults for the day” exercise where students are tasked with planning out their ideal day as an adult and then play a “LIFE”-esque game where students are presented with challenges and circumstances that get in the way of doing whatever they want. these types of activities force students to think critically about what they value and what they already know, as well as encouraging students to search outside of their lived experience and consider the perspective or circumstance of others. these activities are just some examples of what are, basically, endless possibilities!!!
  5. start early!!!!
    • honestly, this one seems pretty self-explanatory. start early! kids as young as three can start thinking critically, obviously in a different capacity to that of a thirteen year old but hey! still valid. critical thinking skills are learned, nurtured, and need time to develop properly. we can’t expect to start teaching critical thinking one day and have it stick from then on. just like reading, writing, math, etcetera, it! needs! time!!

so, there. we have come to the end. hopefully this has been helpful or interesting or something. i’ve learned a lot, mostly that four blog posts is a lot more than i think it is.

thanks for tuning in amigos. auf wiedersehen!


wow critical thinking is in literacy too?!?!?!?


after all the talking in class about the critical thinking competency i thought i’d share this video that highlights some great strategies and ideas for how critical thinking supports and can be integrated into literacy activities:

and hey! here’s a link to this lesson plan, as well as even more free resources (based out of ontario)

so this is modelled off of the “balanced literacy diet” format. it’s basically “a framework that presents literacy concepts using the familiar terminology of a healthy diet”. this is really cool resource that has different “food groups” that, when combined, build a pyramid for both reading and writing skills. it does a great job of breaking down all the components and skills that make up the foundation for literacy.

Reading Pyramid extra small







Writing Pyramid extra small







the great thing about this visual is it very easily shows where to start for both skills, you can’t build a pyramid starting in the middle or the top or even favour one side over the other, it needs a strong foundation in order to be accurate and withstand the tests of time. obviously, this is a metaphor. the visuals also nicely illustrate where the skills overlap. you can notice that in order to be successful in writing, half the battle is foundational reading skills. it’s a natural progression one skill to the next, and it really helps guide our practice by giving us a starting point.

all in all? as i said in my last post, critical thinking is in everything. in the same way historical ways of thinking apply to a specific context, as do these. the only difference being that critical literacy skills are foundational in all subjects. i guess you could argue critical thinking skills ARE literacy skills…and honestly? ur probably right. i’m not gonna argue, it’s 1:30am and i can’t think about thinking anymore today.

thanks for ur time, goodnight and good luck, etc. etc. etc.


historical thinking is ALSO critical thinking? nice!

hallo fellow studes (students)!

so after theresa’s class(es) on historical ways of thinking, i started thinking (haha) about how the combination of all of these different perspectives is, essentially, a tailored critical thinking framework. in review, here are the six historical ways of thinking:

  • historical significance
  • evidence and interpretation
  • continuity and changes
  • cause and consequence
  • historical and cultural perspective
  • ethical judgement

and, to refresh your memory, here are the seven core critical thinking concepts:

  1. analyzing
  2. applying standards
  3. discriminating
  4.  information seeking
  5. logical reasoning
  6.  predicting
  7. transforming knowledge

now, because we were all in class and we definitely took very thorough notes (pssst, theresa has a powerpoint about all the historical ways of thinking on d2l) i’m not going to re-explain the specificities of each historical way of thinking. instead, i’m going to copy and paste the notes from the last post and clearly insert where these thinking concepts fit in!

Continue reading “historical thinking is ALSO critical thinking? nice!”

critical thinking 101 aka 7 core critical thinking skills


so to start with this undoubtedly interesting string of blog posts, i thought i’d begin by sharing what general academia tells me are the 7 core critical thinking skills. broadly defined and put into my own words, *daniel cook voice* here they are!:

  1. analyzing
    – breaking down ideas, events, or concepts to discover their significance, function and relationships.
  2. applying standards
    – judging according to established or agreed upon personal, professional, or social rules and criteria. 
  3. discriminating
    – comparing and contrasting ideas, events, and concepts, and distinguishing significance or purpose 
  4.  information seeking
    – finding evidence, facts, or knowledge by seeking out relevant and appropriate sources and gathering various types of information (objective, subjective, historical, and current) from multiple reliable sources. 
  5. logical reasoning
    – inferencing or drawing conclusions that are supported and justified by relevant and appropriate evidence 
  6.  predicting
    – considering an event, concept, or idea and its potential impact and consequences 
  7. transforming knowledge
    – altering or reinventing the circumstance, significance, details, or function of specific concepts, events, and knowledge and applying these alterations in various contexts to assess the changed outcome

with all of these in mind, i think they reinforce my idea of using critical thinking as an integral part of metacognitive function in students.

Continue reading “critical thinking 101 aka 7 core critical thinking skills”

oh look, a post!


my inquiry topic will be focused on how we can teach critical thinking and consumption as a tool for metacognition. that’s a fancy way of saying: teaching kids how to think about things so they can be self-aware and, by virtue, better humans.

ask me questions and leave comments, i love attention!