You are on page 1of 10

1.

Should the Constitution be a living document that evolves with changes in our society, or should interpretation of the Constitution follow more closely the original intentions of the framers?

2. If you were at the Constitutional Convention, which part of the document would you have worked to change? How would you have negotiated a compromise to make that change possible?

Twenty-One Strategies and Tactics for Teaching Critical Thinking Robert H. Ennis, rhennis@illinois.edu (2011) The actual teaching of critical thinking is a function of many situation-specific factors: teacher style, teacher interest, teacher knowledge and understanding, class size, cultural and community backgrounds and expectations, student expectations and backgrounds, colleagues expectations, recent local events, the amount of time available to teachers after they have done all the other things they have to do, and teacher grasp of critical thinking, to name some major factors. I here suggest some general strategies and tactics gleaned from years of experience, research, and others suggestions. They are guidelines and must be adjusted to fit the actual situation.

Underlying Strategies (The three underlying strategies are Reflection, Reasons, Alternatives (RRA): 1. Urge students to be Reflective, to stop and think, instead of making snap judgments, or accepting the firs idea tha comes into their heads, or automatically accepting whatever is presented in the media. 2. Gently ask such questions as How do you know, "What are the reasons?" and Is that a good source of information? thus prodding them to have good Reasons for their views and to seek reasons for others' views. 3. Emphasize alertness for Alternative hypotheses, conclusions, explanations, sources of evidence, points of view, plans, etc. Fundamental Strategies 4. Use a defensible conception of critical thinking with which you feel comfortable. 5. Provide for many guided opportunities in varied contexts for students to practice critical thinking in application of critical thinking principles to examples, including a number of opportunities in realistic situations that they see as significant. 6. More specifically, where transfer is desired, teach for the transfer of critical thinking principles to everyday life and to other subjects by giving much practice with examples, some of which call for transfer. Call students attention to how the critical thinking principles and criteria apply in a transfer situation, and if feasible, arrange for students to practice transfer applications. 7. Sometimes ask the question, Why?, when you agree with your students, as well as when you don't -- and when you are unsure yourself -- or are trying to find out what they

mean. "Why?" is sometimes threatening, but is the most concise way to draw out the reasons. A less aggressive question is, "Would you say a little more about that?" 8. Emphasize their seeing things from others' points of view and being open minded including being willing to reconsider, if other reasons and evidence arise. 9. Assess what is important in critical thinking using tests or other assessment procedures that are sufficiently valid and reliable in the situation; except for special circumstances, incorporate the results in the course grade and/or any other report that matters to the students; and discreetly make sure that students are aware of this incorporation. Lastly, make sure that the assessment procedure fits the critical thinking instruction; this often requires thinking about assessment well in advance of its use. 10. Students do not need to become subject-matter experts before they can start to learn to think critically in a subject. These things can proceed together, each helping the learning of the other. Students will remember best the subject matter they use (e.g., in making decisions). But ultimately, of course, being well informed and familiar with the topic and the situation calling for critical thinking are essential for critical thinking. 11. In a subject-matter course, the time required for infusion of critical thinking is often justified, not only for the critical thinking learned, but also for an enhanced deeper understanding of the subject. (Consider how much you have retained of the subject matter to which you were exposed as a student in lecture courses compared with seminars calling for reflective participation.) 12. Infusion here refers to the embedding of critical thinking in subject -matter instruction that ensures that the principles of, and criteria for, critical thinking are explicit, whether stated by students or the teacher. Immersion refers to the embedding in which critical thinking principles are not made explicit by anybody. Of course some cases lie in between. Infusion in subject-matter instruction is more likely to succeed than immersion because knowing principles promotes learning, whether it be learning to think critically in the subject (in subject-specific instruction), or transferring learning to other subjects or everyday life. Tactics 13. Sometimes ask students to address questions to which you do not know the answer, or that are controversial. The question should seem significant to them and be interesting. 14. Give them time to think about questions and situations. If you wait long enough, someone will offer an answer. In other words, provide wait time. 15. In a discussion, label a students statement (or thought, answer, hypothesis, position, point, objection, question, etc.) with the student's name, so that the student receives attention and assumes some responsibility. Write the statement on the board, or screen. (Do not worry that you might be wasting time doing this. It gives students a chance to think about the statement or thought.) Invite them to help formulate what you write. Encourage

them to speak to each other's positions, giving reasons. Provide wait time. 16. Have them write down their positions, giving reasons to support what they think, showing awareness of opposing positions and the weaknesses of their own positions. Limit the length to a few sentences, one page, or two or three pages, etc., depending on their maturity and the time available. 17. Provide a set of criteria for judging papers, reports, letters, proposals, or sentences in which they take positions. The criteria should reflect the critical thinking principles that you have been telling them are important. 18. Have them read each other's written statements or position papers, applying these criteria and making suggestions. Then get them to revise -- and revise again, in the light of still other comments or further thought. 19. Have them work on issues or questions in groups, with each group reporting to the entire class, and each person showing the others what he or she has done. Students are eager to do well in the eyes of their peers (just like the rest of us). 20. Be ready to postpone an assignment, if the content of the previous assignment is not understood. Understanding, not coverage, is the goal. 21. To supplement the underlying acronym RRA urge mid-level students to use these acronyms and their associated guidelines: FRISCO and SEBKUS. FRISCO: When appraising a position, whether yours or anothers, attend at least to these elements: F for Focus: Identify or be clear about the main point, that is, the conclusion R for Reasons: Identify and evaluate the reasons I for Inference: Consider whether the reasons establish the conclusion, given alternatives S for Situation: Pay attention to the situation C for Clarity: Make sure that the meanings are clear O for Overview: Review your entire appraisal as a unit

the

SEBKUS: When doing appraisals and planning investigations and other actions, make full use of and try to expand your Sensitivity, Experience,Background Knowledge, and Understanding of the Situation.

Remember that every situation is unique. Think critically about teaching critical thinking, using SEBKUS!

Critical Thinking Exercise 1: Tour Guide for an Alien Pretend that you have been assigned the task of conducting a tour for aliens who are visiting earth and observing human life. You're riding along in a blimp, and you float over a professional baseball stadium. One of your aliens looks down and becomes very confused, so you tell him that there is a game going on. Try to answer the following questions for him.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

What is a game? Why are there no female players? Why do people get so passionate watching other people play games? What is a team? Why can't the people in the seats just go down on the field and join in?

If you try to answer these questions fully, it will quickly become apparent that we carry around certain assumptions and values. We support a certain team, for instance, because it makes us feel like we're a part of a community. This sense of community is a value that matters to some people more than others. Furthermore, when trying to explain team sports to an alien, you have to explain the value we put on winning and losing. When you think like an alien tour guide, you are forced to take a deeper look at the things we do and things we value. They don't always sound so logical and true from the outside looking in!

Thirteen essential thinking skills: Observing Comparing Classifying Imagining Hypothesizing Criticizing Looking for Assumptions Collecting and Organizing Data Summarizing Coding Interpreting Problem Solving Decision Making

What Do They Have in Common?


A simple activity that promotes critical thinking and creativity is listing 2 words and asking What do they have in common? While students may easily see differences among items, finding similarities will be much more challenging. This activity also promotes oral communication and explaining your answer. This may done individually, with a partner, small groups, or even as a whole class brainstorming session. This activity is part of my students first assignments as they come in the morning. Students are asked to write an answer and then we discuss their responses as a whole class. Teachers should accept any answer that may be explained as a commonality, being sure students only deal with the attributes of the items and not what they could be or do. For example, for bell and whistle I would accept both are made of metal or make a sound but would not allow I own both of them. For a real challenge, have students write names of objects on a small piece of paper and put them all in a bag. Each day select a pair of words and challenge the students to recognize What do they have in common? Another Version What Do they have in common? may be taken one step farther. Using a pair of words, the commonality must be expressed in one word. Students must think of multiple meanings and multiple uses of the words. For example: clothes and money > change record and down > break The game TriBond lists three words and the player must recognize what word is common among all three.

Word Chains
Words Chains is an oral language game that encourages critical thinking by requiring students to think about items and classify items into categories. The teacher gives a category, and selects a volunteer for the first word. Then each next word must start with the ending letter of the preceding word. Category - Things found in the ocean fisH > HerrinG > Ghost craB > BasS > SanD > Darkness To speed the game along, change the category once either group is unable to quickly answer. Words Chains may be played in a variety of ways: one vs. one, small group vs. small group, half of class vs. half of class, or whole group.

Scoring: If you wish to keep score: 1 Point - correct response -1 Point - incorrect or repeated response or unable to answer Words Chains encourages creativity as students try to connect words they know into a classification. I use Word Chains as a short filler when the class is waiting in line and as a whole group thinking activity. Word Chains Category Ideas Something you would find in (at) a(n) school grocery store garage carnival mall doctors office laboratory hospital kitchen sports stadium restaurant campsite beach television station barber shop desert skating rink art class purse computer toy store library car post office amusement park arcade museum cruise ship National Park fire station rodeo zoo things made of: glass, plastic, metal, wood, cloth things that are soft, hard, fragile, strong, bendable, smooth, heavy, light things that are bigger than ..., smaller than ..., heavier than ... things that are connected with a holiday subject area or the topic under study geographic names peoples jobs cars plants electronic devices transportation furniture clothing things you wear inventions names plants capitalized words games/toys music/songs animal

Words with Multiple Meanings


A critical thinker looks at words and realizes many words may be used in different ways. Introducing this skill to students will improve their reading and writing. When discussing word meanings the concepts of literal and figurative meanings must be taught. [See Appendix for word list] Classroom Use Word A Day - Put a new word on the board each morning. Allow students time to think about or look up the word. Discuss later in the day. Spelling or Vocabulary Lists - Look at the list (word) and ask students what words could have more than one meaning.

New Words - As new words are encountered in class, list them on the blackboard. When you have that extra minute ask students if they remember the meanings or can use them in a sentence. Keep this ongoing list in a corner of the blackboard. Do not erase the words daily. Erase the old words when the list becomes more than 5 - 7 words. As the old words come down you may add them to a Word Wall, a writing bulletin board, or make a small card for each and put them in a box for future use.

Acronyms
Acronyms is a linguistic critical thinking activity which requires some creativity. Students must create their own meanings for common acronyms. Acronyms are words made up of the initial letters of its meaning, such as SCUBA, selfcontained underwater breathing apparatus and SNAFU, situation normal all fouled up. Acronyms may be pronounced letter by letter, such as CPR. Initialism is the term for an abbreviation pronounced as the names of the individual letters. This idea originated when I was wearing a shirt that said NYC in my fourth grade class. Most students did not know what the letters represented and started coming up with their own ideas. Their responses included; Nice Young Children, Never Yell Chocolate, Nine Yummy Cookies, and my favorite, No You Cant. These abbreviations are everywhere and are part of our everyday life. They are businesses (ATT, IBM, TWA), government agencies (NASA, CIA, FEMA), television networks (ABC, CNN, ESPN), organizations (NATO, UN, NOW), items (BMW, CRT, VCR), jobs (EMT, CPA, RN), and a mainstay in sports (RBI, TKO, TD). Acronyms WWW Worldwide Web ESP Extra Sensory Perception CIT Counselor In Training PDQ Pretty Darn Quick GNP Gross National Product SRO Standing Room Only CD Compact Disc AM Amplitude Modulation AOL America Online ASAP As Soon As Possible AKC American Kennel Club GPA Grade Point Average ZIP Zone Improvement Plan RSVP Respondez Sil Vous Plait DJ Disc Jockey FM Frequency Modulation

TBA To Be Announced ETA Estimated Time of Arrival AKA Also Known As YMCA Young Mens Christian Association RPM Revolutions Per Minute MPH Miles Per Hour ATV All Terrain Vehicle SWAK Sealed With A Kiss IQ Intelligence Quotient CPA Certified Public Accountant GOP Grand Old Party CPR Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation CIA Central Intelligence Agency DNA Deoxyribonucleic Acid TNT Trinitrotoluene RAM Random Access Memory VHS Very High Speed URL Uniform Resource Locator VIP Very Important Person HMO Health Maintenance Organization RN Registered Nurse ACLU American Civil Liberties Union POW Prisoner Of War VISTA Volunteers In Service To America NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration