8 Ways To Improve Critical Thinking In The Classroom

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While reading, writing and math are the basic elements that should be taught to students, there is so much more they should be learning. All students should be actively working on their critical thinking skills in the classroom.

So many of life’s situations require people to think critically to analyze data presented to them, choose the best course of action to take to solve the problem and follow through with their choices. The earlier students cultivate critical thinking, the more skilled they will be at producing sophisticated, thoughtful solutions to the challenges they face. Mastering this skill will carry them through the rest of their life.

So how does one improve their critical thinking skills? Eight professionals shared their own ideas on how to do so.

Move Away From Standardized Testing

My top tip for improving critical thinking in the classroom is for students to have more opportunities to utilize what they learn in the classroom, in a hands on way, in the real world. My other tip is for schools to not be so dependent on standardized testing to evaluate a student’s mastery of concepts.

Lloyd Hopkins, Million Dollar Teach Project

Individual Problem Solving

Improving critical thinking requires being challenged. Whether in a classroom or in the workplace, it is important to let people think and problem solve on their own. Teachers and supervisors will often do things for the student or employee and not show them or let them try on their own first. Letting a person wrestle with the problem at hand and come up with solutions on their own is how they are going to expand their critical thinking skills. It is important for the person in charge to let the student or employee think and even in some cases struggle with a problem before giving them the answer.

Denise Gredler, BestCompaniesAZ

Empathize With Others

Have students or employees learn to put themselves in someone else’s position. What would they do if they were someone else? How would that person handle this situation or think about this idea? It forces them to think differently than they probably would have and learn empathy in the process, as well.

Kenna Hamm, Texas Adoption Center

Activities Without Clear Cut Answers

Improving critical thinking comes down to challenging the children. Stimulating their minds with activities that do not have clear cut answers is a great way to encourage problem-solving and having to think about the bigger picture. Also, for younger children giving them toys that have an end goal and purpose, not just toys that entertain, is a great way to encourage critical thinking at a young age. It is all about creating an environment where the children are in charge of solving problems.

Ryan Nouis, TruPath

Slow Down

Take your time when strategizing and critically thinking through problems. Critical thinking is just deliberately and systematically processing information so that you can make better decisions. This is not something that can be rushed! When given a problem at school or work where you must think critically, take a deep breath, slow down, and deliberately employ critical thinking in ways of conceptualizing, analyzing and evaluating. This is what should be taught to students in school!

Kayla Centeno, Markitors

Active Virtual Engagement

Critical thinking requires active engagement. Removing distractions and enhancing focus will go a long way in supporting an active engagement environment. Cultivating personal responsibility for the task at hand is also pivotal.

Michael Herion, Carrot Eye Center

Recognize Thought Process Biases

An essential step to improving critical thinking skills is to be able to recognize assumptions and biases in your thought process. It is really easy to say “Our customers want this!” but is this fact or conjecture? Intuition is great and should lay the foundation for experimentation not critical decision making.

Lukas Ruebbelke, Briebug

Question Your Sources

To improve critical thinking, the first step is to evaluate what you hear and read. Don’t take anything at face value. You need to ask questions and do your research. Everyone has a motive and bias, so consider the source of the information.

Joanne M Elsen, CPA PC

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Growing the Tree

Million Dollar Teacher Tree was first developed in a classroom by students in a program called, Next Generation Service Corps at Arizona State University in December of 2017. These students were tasked by Lloyd Hopkins, founder of Million Dollar Teacher project with developing a project that can potentially become an integral part in helping MDTP achieve its mission. The group eventually developed the original prototype for Million Dollar Teacher Tree—a cutout dollar sign that would be placed in surrounding businesses near the partner school. The idea was pitched to staff members of MDTP during the last of their class, and the project was picked up by MDTP as a new pilot program for the organization. After many months of planning, the prototype was eventually revamped into what it is today, Million Dollar Teacher Tree.

Golden Apple

These apples are intended to provide any sort of Professional Development which, in turn, gifts them with key knowledge to add to their personal skill-set to better work with their students.

As educators, teachers are constantly looking to continually grow in their profession to not only learn how to better connect with their students, but to also make the learning experience much more exciting.

Suggested donation amount range: $10 – $100

Red Apple

These apples are designed to provide the typical day-to-day items in the classroom. Teachers spend can spend upwards of $1,000 out of pocket to have enough supplies yearlong for their students– to alleviate this, the Red Apples were created.

Everyday school supplies include; pencils, notebooks, crayons, hand sanitizer, etc.

Green Apple

These apples are intended to provide a big-ticket item for the teachers. These supplies are typically something that the teachers can use for more than one school year.

Examples include; a class-set of computers or new furniture for the classroom.

Suggested donation amount: $500+