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Critical Thinking. Ann Smith Sioux Falls Public Schools. What it is not — Examples of people who don’t think critically. What it is- Examples of critical thinkers. What does it mean to be educated?. Activated Knowledge. Accurate information that can be used to gain more knowledge

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Critical Thinking

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Critical thinking

Critical Thinking

Ann Smith

Sioux Falls Public Schools

Critical thinking

What it is not—

Examples of people who don’t think critically

What it is-

Examples of critical thinkers

Critical thinking

What does it mean to be educated?

Activated knowledge

Activated Knowledge

  • Accurate information that can be used to gain more knowledge

    • Mathematical principles

    • Scientific method

    • Principles of critical thinking

Paul. 2002.

Am i a critical thinker

Am I a critical thinker?

  • Stage 1 - Unreflective Thinker

    • Egocentric—and unaware

    • Dismiss ideas we don’t agree with

    • Don’t know what we don’t know

  • Stage 2 – Challenged Thinker

    • Strives to analyze thinking

    • Understands how concepts, assumptions, inferences, implications, and points of view form thinking

Paul. 2002.

Critical thinking

  • Recognizes the qualities of sound thinking: clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, logicalness

  • May engage in self-deception: “If everyone would think clearly like me, this would be a fine world.”

  • The Beginning Thinker

    • Checks information for accuracy and relevance

    • Recognizes assumptions guiding inferences

    • Identifies prejudicial and biased beliefs, unjustifiable conclusions, misused words, and missed implications

    • Analyzes the logic of situations and problems

    • Expresses clear and precise questions

  • Paul. 2002.

    Critical thinking

    • Stage 4 – The Practicing Thinker

    • Stage 5 – The Advanced Thinker

    • Stage 6 – The Master Thinker

    Paul. 2002.

    Habits of mind arthur l costa bena kallick

    Habits of MindArthur L. Costa & Bena Kallick

    Habits of mind

    Habits of Mind

    • Persisting

    • Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision

    • Managing impulsivity

    • Gathering data through all the senses

    • Listening with understanding and empathy

    • Creating, imagining, innovating

    • Thinking flexibly

    • Responding with wonderment and awe

    Habits of mind cont

    Habits of Mind (cont)

    • Thinking about thinking

    • Taking responsible risks

    • Striving for accuracy

    • Finding humor

    • Questioning and posing problems

    • Thinking interdependently

    • Applying past knowledge to new situations

    • Remaining open to continuous learning

    Strategies for developing critical thinkers

    Strategies for developing critical thinkers

    • Engage students in reading, writing, speaking

    • Empower students to evaluate their own reading, writing, speaking

    • Think out loud to model skilled thinking for students

    • Compare and contrast different points of view

    • Encourage students to question

    • Assign a daily notetaker or notetaker team

    • Assign a daily researcher or researcher team



    • “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” (Shakespeare)

    • Using precise language

      • Clever – Cunning

      • Selfish – Self-motivated

      • Power – Control

      • Believe – Know

      • Love – Romance

      • Socialize – Educate

      • Friend -- Colleague

    Paul. 2002.



    • Recognizing socially conditioned meanings

      • Capitalism

      • Socialism

      • Communism

    Paul. 2002.

    Testing information

    Testing Information

    • To what extent could I test the truth of this claim by direct experience?

    • How does the person who advances this claim support it?

    • Is there a definite system or procedure for assessing claims of this sort?

    • Does the acceptance of this information advance the vested interest of the person or group asserting it?

    Paul. 2002.



    • Say what you mean, mean what you say.

    • "What can be done about the education system in America?“

    • Could you give me an example

    Paul. 2002.



    • How could we find out if that is true?

      • Can it be verified by other sources?

      • On the Web, look for hints in the URL

      • (whois lookup)

      • On a long URL, delete to the first slash



    November. 2008.



    • Can you give more details.

      • “My daughter has a fever.”

      • “My computer doesn’t work.”

      • “Do you know anyone who writes grants for education?”

      • “Do you have any books in this library?”

    Paul. 2002.



    • A statement can be clear, accurate, and precise…but irrelevant.

      • “I spent 14.6 hours preparing my elementary library budget, so I should be funded at the full level.”

    • Public figures answering questions at a press conference.

    • How does this help us with the issue at hand?

    Paul. 2002.



    • Does the answer address the complexities of the question?

      • “Just say no”

      • “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”

    • Is it dealing with the most significant factors?

    Paul. 2002.



    • Is there another way to look at this question?

    • Do we need to consider another point of view?

    Paul. 2002.



    • How does that follow?

    • Are these statements contradictory?

    • Don’t confuse correlation with causation


    Paul. 2002.

    Get real

    Get “REAL”

    • Read the URL

    • Examine the Content

    • Ask about the author and owner

    • Look at the Links


        • Link:

    November. 2008.

    Smith thanks lee

    SMITH (thanks Lee!)

    • Source

    • Message

    • Intent

    • Techniques

    • How do they want me to respond

    Questions that stimulate thinking

    Questions that stimulate thinking

    • Open-ended questions:

      • What are your reactions to this morning’s Keynote speaker?

      • What aspects of this unit are of interest to you?

      • What are your reactions to what you just heard?

    Paul. 2002.

    Critical thinking

    • Diagnostic Questions

      • What is really rewarded in this classroom?

      • What conclusions did you draw from this data?

    • Information-seeking Questions

      • What are the factors that influence student engagement?

    Paul. 2002.

    Critical thinking

    • Challenge (testing) Questions

      • Why do you believe that?

      • What evidence supports your conclusion?

      • What arguments might be developed to counter that point of view?

    Paul. 2002.

    Critical thinking

    • Action Questions

      • What needs to be done to address this problem?

        • Be specific

        • Ask someone who has the ability to help

    Paul. 2002.

    Critical thinking

    • Questions on priority and sequence

      • Given limited resources, what is the first step to be taken?

      • The second?

      • The third?

    Paul. 2002.

    Critical thinking

    • Prediction Questions

      • If your conclusions are correct, what will be our situation tomorrow? In 5 years? In 20 years?

    • Hypothetical Questions

      • What if Henry Ford’s gasoline engine hadn’t become the standard automobile engine?

      • What if FDR had not initiated the New Deal?

    Paul. 2002.

    Critical thinking

    • Questions of extension

      • For your grandchildren, what are the implications of your conclusions about the issue of climate change?

    • Questions of generalization

      • Based on our exploration of critical thinking, what do you believe are the major barriers to teaching critical thinking in your classroom?

    Paul. 2002.

    Critical thinking

    “For to say, that a blind custom of obedience should be a surer obligation than duty taught and understood; it is to affirm, that a blind man may tread surer by a guide than a seeing man can by a light.” Sir Francis Bacon. The Advancement of Learning.

    Suggested resources

    Suggested Resources

    • Costa, Arthur and Bena Kallick. Leading and Learning with Habits of Mind. ASCD. 2009.


    • Foundation for Critical Thinking


    • SIRS Researcher (subscription database)


    • The Question Mark


    Resources cont d

    Resources (cont’d)

    • November, Alan. Web Literacy for Educators. Corwin Press, 2008.

    • Paul, Richard. Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Personal and Professional Life. FT Press, 2002.

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