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Using High Quality Texts to Facilitate Higher Order/Critical Thinking Skills . Embedding Social Justice. Karen Murray Dane Prince July 3, 2008. Key Quote.

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Using High Quality Texts to Facilitate Higher Order/Critical Thinking Skills

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Using High Quality Texts to Facilitate Higher Order/Critical Thinking Skills

Embedding Social Justice

Karen Murray

Dane Prince

July 3, 2008

Key Quote

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Key Quote

“Literacy holds power for students when it relates to their lives and concerns, when it is authentic, and when it raises issues that matter to them...When students read and respond to text that provokes thinking, they are much more likely to become active, engaged readers...

How we choose text and how kids choose their own makes a difference in their literate lives.”

(Harvey & Goudvis, 2007, p. 61)

Higher Order Thinking

According to the Ontario Curriculum Grades 1-8

Higher Order Thinking is:

“The process of mentally manipulating and transforming information and ideas in order to solve problems, acquire understanding, and discover new meaning. Higher-order thinking skills include: focusing, information gathering, combining facts and ideas, organizing, analysing, synthesizing…”

(p. 155)

Critical Literacy

“Critical literacy views readers as active participants in the reading process and invites them to move beyond passively accepting the text’s message to question, examine, or dispute the power relations that exist between readers and authors. It focuses on issues of power and promotes reflection, transformation, and action (Praxis)” (Friere, 1970).

Critical Literacy

Critical literacy is our aim to get students to construct and challenge texts, to see how texts provide selective versions of the world… with an eye towards transforming social, economic and cultural conditions.

Allan Luke

Critical Literacy

Teaching from a critical literacy perspective is an essential approach as it allows teachers to undertake instructional practices that permit students to engage in deep and independent thinking while encouraging transformational social action.

Social Justice

Social Justice is a process that looks at:

  • Equity

  • Equality

  • Fairness

  • Empowerment

  • Injustice

    …with the intent to encourage a form of Social Action

What is a Rich/High Quality Text?

  • Well written text that relates to students’ lives and presents authentic issues that matter to their existence. These texts have multiple layers of meaning and life lessons that facilitate discussion and critical analysis

  • Genres: literary, graphic, informational

  • Contains bigger ideas/concepts/issues (i.e., equity, social justice, environmental)

High Quality Texts

  • Literary (Social Class)

High Quality Texts

  • Literary (Environmental Awareness)

High Quality Texts

  • Literary (Stereotyping, Friendship, Perseverance)

High Quality Texts

  • Graphic/Informational (Overcoming Adversity, Race)

High Quality Texts

  • Informational (Courage, Bravery)

Why should we use High Quality Texts?

  • Introduces bigger ideas/issues that facilitate critical thinking

  • Allows students to make relevant and meaningful connections that extend their understanding of themselves and their world

  • Encourages Social Action

How do we use High Quality Texts?

  • Determine the “bigger ideas” that are contained within the text

  • As a reference for other curriculum areas (Character Education, Social Studies, Science, History & Geography)

  • To support school-wide initiatives by reinforcing these “bigger ideas” with text

Don’t Laugh at Meby Steve Seskin Book Showcase #1

Area of Focus: Social Responsibility (Bullying)

Riding the Tigerby Eve BuntingBook Showcase #2

Area of Focus: Social Responsibility (Bullying)


  • Using the text provided, determine what big idea(s) or area of focus this text can be used to demonstrate

What are your findings?

  • Record ideas from the group

Student Evidence from using High Quality Text










  • CHARACTER EDUCATION (i.e., perseverance)

Teacher Experience- Neil Dundas

Looking at student work through student moderation

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