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Critical Thinking Skills For First Graders

 

Hello, everybody!  And happy summer!  In this post, I am going to show you how to teach some basic critical thinking skills to young children in a way that they can easily understand.  Explaining things such as inference, prediction, cause and effect, and forming opinions to children as young as Kindergarten and first grade is really not as hard as you might think!  In fact, many of the thinking skills that are expected of children these days are questions that might actually come up in natural conversations, anyhow!  I think that you will be pleased to find that you are already doing most of this “instinctively” already. So read on and get ready to give yourself a pat on the back!

Children must naturally infer many things by looking at pictures in books when they cannot yet read.
 

If you find that you are already asking most of these types of questions already, then you are doing great!  Now just label what you are actually doing (as far as critical thinking skills are concerned) in your mind, and find a way to remind yourself to ask those types of questions deliberately and regularly.  There are different ways to do this, but my favorite way is to keep Critical Thinking Question Cards (or cards with sample questions) near the chair that you usually sit in when you read to your students, since questioning students during literacy times is a natural time to pull in those critical thinking skills.

You can get this set of my Critical Thinking Question Cards for Young Children here for $2.00.   They are also on my TPT store.
 

Teaching children to answer critical thinking questions about stories that are read aloud to them is a win-win situation, especially when you consider that discussing these questions with the children will surely enhance their listening comprehension in general, PLUS they’ll be working on their oral language skills, too!  I always tell the kids that these thinking games are GREAT, because there really are no wrong answers, except simply refusing to try.  The worst thing they could really say is nothing.  Even a silly answer is better than no answer at all!  Then they just need to try to explain why they think so, supporting their reasons (hopefully) with information they learned from a text or from their life experiences.

Kids get used to there being just one right answer, and the rest of the answers are wrong.  But that is not the case with critical thinking activities, and that is GOOD!  Here is one great little questioning trick that helps encourage children to keep thinking when they say that they do not know the answer.  Just say, “If you did know, what would you say?”  This came from a post in a blog called The Cornerstone for Teachers. (Sorry, I can’t seem to find the exact post at the moment, so I linked to the home page.)  I think that Angela, the author, also mentioned that she asks children sometimes to tell them what “one of the other kids would say, if they knew.”  That relieves the child of the pressure to get it right; he is just answering for someone else, LOL!

A natural time to ask critical thinking questions is before, during, and after reading books aloud to children.
 

The biggest obstacle is really just a matter of getting used to these “Fancy Pants Words” in relationship to KINDERGARTEN or FIRST GRADE and realizing that YES:  you CAN explain them to your little ones, and YES- many of them will be able to answer your questions.  Just bring it down to their level, which is the key to teaching anything to young children- breaking things down to their most basic and tiniest steps.   Teachers and parents of young children do this all the time!  Why should thinking skills be so much more intimidating or different?   I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….

Here is a little downloadable graphic on how to explain critical thinking skills to young children that I created to help you along.  You can download it here.

How to Explain Critical Thinking Skills to Young Children- (free download)
 

This is how I think about each of the critical thinking skills below, at least in relationship to the early childhood classroom.

Hypothesize:  Take a really smart guess, based on what you already know.
Example:   Why do you think that foxes and wolves always seem to be the bad guys in story books?

This is Heidi’s version of the Gingerbread Man, in which the children act out the play! It comes with a read along, sing along CD.
 

Develop a Logical Argument:  Tell us why you believe something is true, and really think for a minute because I’m going to ask you to tell me a lot about why you think so.
Example:  What do you think would have happened to the animals in the mitten if the mouse had not decided to sit on the bear’s nose?  Do you think that the mitten would have popped?  Tell me more why….  Now tell me another reason why you think so.

These are some of Heidi’s former students performing in her musical play, The Mitten, which is based on the same Ukrainian folktale that Jan Brett retold in her book of the same name.
 

Here is a link to find out more about Heidi’s Musical Primary Plays for young children!

Predict:  Guess what will happen next.
Example:  David just broke a vase with his baseball bat.  What do you think is going to happen next?

 

You can get free directions to teach your kids how to draw David from the No, David! books by David Shannon here.

Cause & Effect:  The cause is what started it and the effect is what happened.
Example:  Roll a marble down a ramp.  Ask, “What made the ball move?”  (Or, what started the ball moving?  That’s the cause.)  What happened then? (We had a bell at the bottom of the ramp.)  That’s the effect.

 

Infer:  Look at the picture, and tell me what you think is happening and why.
Example:  Show a picture of a broken window next to a baseball bat and ball, and have the children infer what happened.  You could do this with nearly any pictures in books.  Clifford books are great for this.  The author doesn’t tell you what happened; he implies it and then lets the children figure it out by looking at the pictures.

These pictures are from the book, Clifford’s Christmas by Norman Bridwell.
 

Connect the Text to Self:  Has anything like this ever happened to you?
Example:  The little bird is sad because he does not know who his mother is, and he feels lonely.  Have you ever felt lonely?

 

Evaluate: Decide whether or not something was a good idea or a bad idea.
Example:  The children let the Cat in the Hat in the house when their mom was not home.  Was that a good idea or a bad idea?  Why or why not?

 

You can find the instructions for this cute little Thing One & Thing Two hand print craft here.

Draw a Conclusion:  Think about the WHOLE story and then tell me what you think.
Example:  Is this story real or make believe?  Why do you think so?

Compare & Contrast:  Tell me how these things are different.  Now tell me how they are the same.
Example:  Look at the carrot and the pumpkin.  How are they different?  How are they the same?

Form an Opinion:  How do you feel about this?  Do you like it?  Why or why not?
Example:  Did you like this book?  Did you not like this book?  Why or why not?

 

Would you like to bring Heidi to your school?  Heidi does a presentation called Making Critical Thinking Skills “Do-able” for Young Children.  Ask your administrators!

Want a set of Critical Thinking Question Stems that are perfect for the early childhood classroom?  Check out Heidi’s set here.  

These printable cards are $2 on HeidiSongs TPT store.
 

In case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a song from one of our newest DVDs, Number Jumble!

 

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Corduroy


Objectives of the Remodeled Lesson

(K-1)

The Students Will:

  • compare perspectives of a mother and daughter in a story
  • explore the thoughts underlying the feelings regarding what makes things valuable
  • generate and assess solutions
  • clarify values and develop criteria to evaluate toys

A Teddy bear named Corduroy sits on a shelf at a large department store. A little girl sees him and wants to buy him, but her mother says no because they are out of time and the teddy bear is missing a button. After the store closes, the bear searches for his button because he wants to be bought by the child. He looks all over the store and finally ends up in the bed department where he sees a button on a mattress and tries to pull it off. He falls off the mattress, knocks over a lamp and the night guard finds him and returns him to the toy department. The child returns, buys him, sews on the button and Corduroy happily joins her family.

Students are asked questions like the following: Who is Corduroy? Where is he? How did he get his name? Does anyone know what the material called corduroy looks and feels like? (Pass around a piece of corduroy.) Why did Corduroy go out into the store? Why was it important to find his button? Where was he when he tried to pull one up? Why couldn't he get it? How did the story end?

Critique

The original lesson focused on a lot of factual recall and a narrow line of questioning. No other point of view was suggested, nor was there any personal tie-in.

Strategies Used to Remodel

  • S-25 reasoning dialogically: comparing perspectives, interpretations, or theories
  • S-19 generating or assessing solutions
  • S-15 developing criteria for evaluation: clarifying values and standards
  • S-4 exploring thoughts underlying feelings and feelings underlying thoughts
  • S-26 reasoning dialectically: evaluating perspectives, interpretations, or theories

To lay the foundation for exploring thoughts underlying feelings and comparing perspectives in the story, the teacher could first set up a role play in which several children are wearing pictures of toys while a mother and child walk past shopping for the best toy. After a few minutes, stop and ask the toys how they felt, then ask the child how he or she was choosing, then ask the mother how she was choosing. Read the story aloud and ask the following questions to encourage students to explore the story's meaning and assess Corduroy's solution:

What was Corduroy doing in the store after it closed? Why did he think it was important to find the button? Do you think it was important for him to find the button? How else could he have solved the problem of the missing button? Was it really necessary for him to have a button in order for him to be bought? S-19 Do you think an adult would buy a teddy bear with a button missing? If not, why not? Why do you think the girl bought him anyway? S-15 What would you have done? How did the girl feel after she bought Corduroy? Why? How do you know how she felt? What do you think Corduroy felt? Why? How do you know? S-4 "Can you think of a different way to end the story? If your favorite animal could think, what would he or she have thought while being bought?"

Editors' note: The teacher could extend the discussion on the differences between the perspectives and standards of the girl and her mother (a common sort of difference between children and grown-ups). "Why do some people care about things like missing buttons and other people don't? How important was the missing button to the mother? Why? What reasons could she have? The girl? Why? Corduroy? Why? What was the most important thing about Corduroy for the mother? The girl? Why did the girl want Corduroy? Why didn't the missing button alter her feelings? Would the missing button have stopped any of the girl's plans for Corduroy? Why or why not? What does this difference between mother and daughter tell us about their values-what they think is important? Do you think the missing button is important? Why or why not? What's your best reason? What's the best reason on the other side? S-15 Have you ever seen or experienced a similar disagreement? How was it similar? What do you think of it? What does that tell us about your values?" S-26 With whom do you identify? Who do you understand? Who are you rooting for? Why?

{"id":"167","title":"Corduroy ","author":" by Judy Calonico, Calaveras Unified Schools, Pine","content":"<p><span style=\"color: #666666; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><em><strong><br /> Objectives of the Remodeled Lesson</strong></em></span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong><span style=\"color: #000099;\">(K-1)<br /> </span></strong><br /> <strong><span style=\"color: #000099;\">The Students Will:</span></strong></span></p>\r\n<ul>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">compare perspectives of a mother and daughter in a story</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">explore the thoughts underlying the feelings regarding what makes things valuable</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">generate and assess solutions</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">clarify values and develop criteria to evaluate toys</span> </li>\r\n</ul>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">A Teddy bear named Corduroy sits on a shelf at a large department store. A little girl sees him and wants to buy him, but her mother says no because they are out of time and the teddy bear is missing a button. After the store closes, the bear searches for his button because he wants to be bought by the child. He looks all over the store and finally ends up in the bed department where he sees a button on a mattress and tries to pull it off. He falls off the mattress, knocks over a lamp and the night guard finds him and returns him to the toy department. The child returns, buys him, sews on the button and Corduroy happily joins her family.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">Students are asked questions like the following: Who is Corduroy? Where is he? How did he get his name? Does anyone know what the material called corduroy looks and feels like? (Pass around a piece of corduroy.) Why did Corduroy go out into the store? Why was it important to find his button? Where was he when he tried to pull one up? Why couldn't he get it? How did the story end?</span></p>\r\n<p><strong><span style=\"color: #666666;\"><span><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><em>Critique</em></span> </span></span></strong></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">The original lesson focused on a lot of factual recall and a narrow line of questioning. No other point of view was suggested, nor was there any personal tie-in.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"color: #666666; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong><em>Strategies Used to Remodel</em></strong></span></p>\r\n<ul>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s25\">S-25</a> reasoning dialogically: comparing perspectives, interpretations, or theories</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s19\">S-19</a> generating or assessing solutions</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s15\">S-15</a> developing criteria for evaluation: clarifying values and standards</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s4\">S-4</a> exploring thoughts underlying feelings and feelings underlying thoughts</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s26\">S-26</a> reasoning dialectically: evaluating perspectives, interpretations, or theories</span> </li>\r\n</ul>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">To lay the foundation for exploring thoughts underlying feelings and comparing perspectives in the story, the teacher could first set up a role play in which several children are wearing pictures of toys while a mother and child walk past shopping for the best toy. After a few minutes, stop and ask the toys how they felt, then ask the child how he or she was choosing, then ask the mother how she was choosing. Read the story aloud and ask the following questions to encourage students to explore the story's meaning and assess Corduroy's solution:</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">What was Corduroy doing in the store after it closed? Why did he think it was important to find the button? Do you think it was important for him to find the button? How else could he have solved the problem of the missing button? Was it really necessary for him to have a button in order for him to be bought? <a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s19\">S-19</a> Do you think an adult would buy a teddy bear with a button missing? If not, why not? Why do you think the girl bought him anyway? <a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s15\">S-15</a> What would you have done? How did the girl feel after she bought Corduroy? Why? How do you know how she felt? What do you think Corduroy felt? Why? How do you know? <a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s4\">S-4</a> \"Can you think of a different way to end the story? If your favorite animal could think, what would he or she have thought while being bought?\"</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Editors' note:</strong> The teacher could extend the discussion on the differences between the perspectives and standards of the girl and her mother (a common sort of difference between children and grown-ups). \"Why do some people care about things like missing buttons and other people don't? How important was the missing button to the mother? Why? What reasons could she have? The girl? Why? Corduroy? Why? What was the most important thing about Corduroy for the mother? The girl? Why did the girl want Corduroy? Why didn't the missing button alter her feelings? Would the missing button have stopped any of the girl's plans for Corduroy? Why or why not? What does this difference between mother and daughter tell us about their values-what they think is important? Do you think the missing button is important? Why or why not? What's your best reason? What's the best reason on the other side? <a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s15\">S-15</a> Have you ever seen or experienced a similar disagreement? How was it similar? What do you think of it? What does that tell us about your values?\" <a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s26\">S-26</a> With whom do you identify? Who do you understand? Who are you rooting for? Why?</span></p>\r\n<p><br style=\"clear: both;\" /></p>","public_access":"1","public_downloads":"1","sku":"","files":{},"images":{}}

The Pledge of Allegiance


Objectives of the Remodeled Lesson


1st-3rd Grades

The Students Will:

  • discuss the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance
  • begin to develop a concept of 'good citizenship'
  • develop an appreciation for 'our republic', 'liberty', and 'justice'
  • begin to develop insight into sociocentricity and the need for integrity by comparing ideals to actual practice and comparing U.S. and French ideals
  • explore the relationships between symbols and what they represent

The teacher explains the difficult words in the pledge, and the class discusses the flag and the importance of patriotism.

Critique

The lessons we reviewed on the subject over-emphasized the flag, while de-emphasizing allegiance to the country. They tended to confuse our ideals with our practice, thereby failing to suggest that it takes work to better live up to ideals. The common belief that loving your country means finding no fault with it is a major obstacle to critical thought. Fairminded thinking requires us to consider criticisms. The lessons we reviewed do not fully explain the ideas in the pledge; therefore, students are making a promise they don't understand. Ideas as important and complex as 'good citizenship' aren't covered in sufficient depth.

Furthermore, many lessons lead students to believe that our ideals are uniquely American, ignoring how many other countries have similar ideals. This practice encourages sociocentric stereotyping of non-Americans. Therefore, we suggest that students discuss ideals that others share with us.

The remodel can be substituted for any lesson on the pledge. Some teachers may also want to have students critique the pledge lesson in their text.

Strategies Used to Remodel

  • S-14 clarifying and analyzing the meanings of words or phrases
  • S-32 making plausible inferences, predictions, or interpretations
  • S-27 comparing and contrasting ideals with actual practice
  • S-7 developing intellectual good faith or integrity
  • S-29 noting significant similarities and differences
  • S-2 developing insight into egocentricity or sociocentricity

We have designed this lesson as a complete third grade level discussion. We believe, however, that the pledge should be discussed as early as the children recite it. For first and second grades, use as much of this lesson as your students can understand. Teachers of second and third grades may have a pre-activity. Groups of students could use the dictionary to look up the words in the pledge and rewrite the pledge in their own words. We then recommend a thorough discussion of the pledge, such as that described below.

A pledge is a promise. What is a promise? Why keep promises? How do you feel when someone breaks a promise to you? Is something a promise if you have no choice about whether or not to make it? S-14

Allegiance is loyalty. (Use 'allegiance to a friend' as an analogy to enhance discussion.) So we are making a promise to be loyal. Loyal to what? (Flag and country.) The flag is a symbol of our country. (If necessary, discuss the meaning of 'symbol'.) To be loyal to the flag is to show respect for it. We do this as a way of showing respect for our nation. (Discuss our country's name.)

"And to the republic for which it (the flag) stands." Our country is a republic. That means that we have the right to pick our leaders. (Compare this to other forms of government.) Do people in every country get to pick their leaders? If we select our leaders, then who is responsible for our government? S-32 Why? (Discuss how the country is made up of land, people, and government, and so we have to care for all three.)

Our country has ideals, some of which are in the pledge. (Discuss 'ideals'.) 'Indivisible' means something that stays whole, and is not split into parts. (Use households as an analogy to generate a discussion of why unity is important.) (Define 'liberty' and 'justice'.) We say "with liberty and justice for all." Why are these things important? How do you feel when you are treated unfairly? How would you feel if you couldn't decide anything for yourself? (Then discuss that last phrase, and ask who is meant by 'all'?) Is the idea that everyone is free and is always treated fairly a fact or an ideal? S-27 What is the difference between a fact and an ideal? (Discuss) Are freedom and fairness easy or hard for a country to achieve? (Discuss) S-7

Therefore, when we say the pledge, we promise to respect the flag and be good citizens. Since we live in a republic, the citizens are responsible for the government. So we promise to take care of the land, keep our country whole, and strive to make our government treat everyone fairly and let people be free.

The teacher should point out that the students are not required to say the pledge, that they have a choice to decide whether they want to make this promise this way. You might want to tell the students that the French people hold the ideals of liberty, brotherhood, and equality. Have the students compare these to our ideals, then ask, "What do French and American points of view have in common?" (This could be a good place to have students critique the implications of their texts and why it was written that way: the tendency to want to think of ourselves as the only good people.) S-2

The next section is an introduction to the idea of a symbol. It helps the students distinguish between symbols and that which they represent.

SymbolsS-29

You might begin with our flag, the skull-and-crossbones sign, and traffic lights as examples of symbols. Ask the students for more examples. Then ask, "Is there a symbol for you?" Use the analogy of the students' names as symbols of them in the following discussion: Is a symbol the same as the thing it symbolizes or stands for? Is the symbol as important as what it symbolizes? Why might people get upset when a symbol is mistreated? Is it right to treat or react to the symbol the way you treat or react to the thing it symbolizes? Why or why not?

{"id":"168","title":"The Pledge of Allegiance","author":"","content":"<p><span style=\"color: #666666; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><em><strong><br /> Objectives of the Remodeled Lesson</strong></em></span> <br /> <br /> <span style=\"color: #000099;\"><strong>1st-3rd Grades</strong></span><br /> <br /></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"color: #000099; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>The Students Will:</strong></span></p>\r\n<ul>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">discuss the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">begin to develop a concept of 'good citizenship'</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">develop an appreciation for 'our republic', 'liberty', and 'justice'</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">begin to develop insight into sociocentricity and the need for integrity by comparing ideals to actual practice and comparing U.S. and French ideals</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">explore the relationships between symbols and what they represent</span> </li>\r\n</ul>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">The teacher explains the difficult words in the pledge, and the class discusses the flag and the importance of patriotism.</span></p>\r\n<p><strong><span style=\"color: #666666;\"><span><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><em>Critique</em></span> </span></span></strong></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">The lessons we reviewed on the subject over-emphasized the flag, while de-emphasizing allegiance to the country. They tended to confuse our ideals with our practice, thereby failing to suggest that it takes work to better live up to ideals. The common belief that loving your country means finding no fault with it is a major obstacle to critical thought. Fairminded thinking requires us to consider criticisms. The lessons we reviewed do not fully explain the ideas in the pledge; therefore, students are making a promise they don't understand. Ideas as important and complex as 'good citizenship' aren't covered in sufficient depth.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">Furthermore, many lessons lead students to believe that our ideals are uniquely American, ignoring how many other countries have similar ideals. This practice encourages sociocentric stereotyping of non-Americans. Therefore, we suggest that students discuss ideals that others share with us.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">The remodel can be substituted for any lesson on the pledge. Some teachers may also want to have students critique the pledge lesson in their text.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"color: #666666; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><em><strong>Strategies Used to Remodel</strong></em></span></p>\r\n<ul>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s14\">S-14</a> clarifying and analyzing the meanings of words or phrases</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s32\">S-32</a> making plausible inferences, predictions, or interpretations</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s27\">S-27</a> comparing and contrasting ideals with actual practice</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s7\">S-7</a> developing intellectual good faith or integrity</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s29\">S-29</a> noting significant similarities and differences</span> </li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s2\">S-2</a> developing insight into egocentricity or sociocentricity</span> </li>\r\n</ul>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">We have designed this lesson as a complete third grade level discussion. We believe, however, that the pledge should be discussed as early as the children recite it. For first and second grades, use as much of this lesson as your students can understand. Teachers of second and third grades may have a pre-activity. Groups of students could use the dictionary to look up the words in the pledge and rewrite the pledge in their own words. We then recommend a thorough discussion of the pledge, such as that described below.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">A pledge is a promise. What is a promise? Why keep promises? How do you feel when someone breaks a promise to you? Is something a promise if you have no choice about whether or not to make it? <a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s14\">S-14</a></span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">Allegiance is loyalty. (Use 'allegiance to a friend' as an analogy to enhance discussion.) So we are making a promise to be loyal. Loyal to what? (Flag and country.) The flag is a symbol of our country. (If necessary, discuss the meaning of 'symbol'.) To be loyal to the flag is to show respect for it. We do this as a way of showing respect for our nation. (Discuss our country's name.)</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">\"And to the republic for which it (the flag) stands.\" Our country is a republic. That means that we have the right to pick our leaders. (Compare this to other forms of government.) Do people in every country get to pick their leaders? If we select our leaders, then who is responsible for our government? <a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s32\">S-32</a> Why? (Discuss how the country is made up of land, people, and government, and so we have to care for all three.)</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">Our country has ideals, some of which are in the pledge. (Discuss 'ideals'.) 'Indivisible' means something that stays whole, and is not split into parts. (Use households as an analogy to generate a discussion of why unity is important.) (Define 'liberty' and 'justice'.) We say \"with liberty and justice for all.\" Why are these things important? How do you feel when you are treated unfairly? How would you feel if you couldn't decide anything for yourself? (Then discuss that last phrase, and ask who is meant by 'all'?) Is the idea that everyone is free and is always treated fairly a fact or an ideal? <a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s27\">S-27</a> What is the difference between a fact and an ideal? (Discuss) Are freedom and fairness easy or hard for a country to achieve? (Discuss) <a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s7\">S-7</a></span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">Therefore, when we say the pledge, we promise to respect the flag and be good citizens. Since we live in a republic, the citizens are responsible for the government. So we promise to take care of the land, keep our country whole, and strive to make our government treat everyone fairly and let people be free.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">The teacher should point out that the students are not required to say the pledge, that they have a choice to decide whether they want to make this promise this way. You might want to tell the students that the French people hold the ideals of liberty, brotherhood, and equality. Have the students compare these to our ideals, then ask, \"What do French and American points of view have in common?\" (This could be a good place to have students critique the implications of their texts and why it was written that way: the tendency to want to think of ourselves as the only good people.) <a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s2\">S-2</a></span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">The next section is an introduction to the idea of a symbol. It helps the students distinguish between symbols and that which they represent.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong><span style=\"color: #666666;\"><span><em>Symbols</em> </span></span></strong><a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s29\"><strong><span style=\"color: #666666;\">S-29</span></strong></a></span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">You might begin with our flag, the skull-and-crossbones sign, and traffic lights as examples of symbols. Ask the students for more examples. Then ask, \"Is there a symbol for you?\" Use the analogy of the students' names as symbols of them in the following discussion: Is a symbol the same as the thing it symbolizes or stands for? Is the symbol as important as what it symbolizes? Why might people get upset when a symbol is mistreated? Is it right to treat or react to the symbol the way you treat or react to the thing it symbolizes? Why or why not?</span></p>\r\n<p><br style=\"clear: both;\" /></p>","public_access":"1","public_downloads":"1","sku":"","files":{},"images":{}}

What Will Decompose?

 

Objectives of the Remodeled Lesson


2nd-3rd Grades

The Students Will:

  • distinguish between man-made and natural objects by categorizing examples collected on a nature walk
  • use the scientific process to organize information, categorize, hypothesize, test, and draw conclusions
  • develop a perspective on the uses and problems of using man-made materials, by recognizing assumptions
  • discuss the implications of using man-made objects, such as those made from plastic

Abstract

The original lesson plan is a scientific experiment to investigate what objects will decompose. The children are told that water is needed to make bacteria grow. They bury various objects, add water, and dig up each one after a specified length of time. They record the results.

Critique

We feel that a separate experiment on bacteria's need for water should precede this lesson.

This plan misses the opportunity to help children categorize and find common characteristics among natural and man-made substances through small group discussions. It does have hands-on investigation and experimentation. Its strength lies in its use of the mechanical techniques of the scientific method. We would use the original lesson plan as a part of the lesson and encourage small group discussions on such questions as these: Why do we use plastic or other man-made materials? When are these materials good to use? When are they not good to use?

Strategies Used to Remodel

  • S-12 developing one's perspective: creating or exploring beliefs, arguments, or theories
  • S-35 exploring implications and consequences

Rather than beginning the lesson with the experiment, start by clarifying concepts about trash by taking a nature walk to find trash, and then brainstorming ideas about the kinds of trash found. Ask what trash is decomposing and which isn't. Encourage the students to suggest categories of things that do or don't decompose, and encourage hypotheses to test. Then execute the experiment by having students choose objects from each category, make predictions regarding which objects will decompose and how quickly, and follow through on the experiment.

Following the experiment, allow for a discussion focusing on critical thinking skills. Allow for discussion on what problems have been revealed in this experiment and discussion. "What kinds of things did you predict would decompose quickly? Slowly? Not at all? What happened? Which of your predictions was verified? Which weren't? Why not? What can we say about what kinds of things decompose? Why? How are the things that decompose similar? How do they differ from those that don't decompose? Do you think that's the reason these did and those didn't? Why or why not? Can we generalize?" The class can discuss this at length, trying out generalizations, and possibly testing them with follow-up experiments.

In evaluating man-made objects, and assumptions about their use, ask if it is important to use them, and under what circumstances can natural objects be substituted. "Do we really need to make it out of plastic, or are you just assuming we do because you've always seen them that way?"

Editors' note: Why do people often prefer to use man-made materials such as plastic? What problems does this cause? Where do man-made materials end up? What effects does that have?" S-35

{"id":"169","title":"What Will Decompose?","author":"by Jane Davis-Seaver, Karen Marks, and Nancy John","content":"<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">&nbsp;</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"color: #0044aa; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><em><span style=\"color: #666666;\"><strong>Objectives of the Remodeled Lesson</strong></span></em> </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><br /> <span style=\"color: #000099;\"><strong>2nd-3rd Grades</strong></span><br /> <br /> <strong><span style=\"color: #000099;\">The Students Will:</span></strong> </span></p>\r\n<ul>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">distinguish between man-made and natural objects by categorizing examples collected on a nature walk </span></li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">use the scientific process to organize information, categorize, hypothesize, test, and draw conclusions </span></li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">develop a perspective on the uses and problems of using man-made materials, by recognizing assumptions </span></li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">discuss the implications of using man-made objects, such as those made from plastic </span></li>\r\n</ul>\r\n<p><span style=\"color: #666666; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><em><strong>Abstract</strong></em></span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">The original lesson plan is a scientific experiment to investigate what objects will decompose. The children are told that water is needed to make bacteria grow. They bury various objects, add water, and dig up each one after a specified length of time. They record the results.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"color: #666666; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><em><strong>Critique</strong></em></span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">We feel that a separate experiment on bacteria's need for water should precede this lesson.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">This plan misses the opportunity to help children categorize and find common characteristics among natural and man-made substances through small group discussions. It does have hands-on investigation and experimentation. Its strength lies in its use of the mechanical techniques of the scientific method. We would use the original lesson plan as a part of the lesson and encourage small group discussions on such questions as these: Why do we use plastic or other man-made materials? When are these materials good to use? When are they not good to use?</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"color: #666666; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><em><strong>Strategies Used to Remodel</strong></em></span></p>\r\n<ul>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s12\">S-12</a> developing one's perspective: creating or exploring beliefs, arguments, or theories </span></li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s35\">S-35</a> exploring implications and consequences </span></li>\r\n</ul>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">Rather than beginning the lesson with the experiment, start by clarifying concepts about trash by taking a nature walk to find trash, and then brainstorming ideas about the kinds of trash found. Ask what trash is decomposing and which isn't. Encourage the students to suggest categories of things that do or don't decompose, and encourage hypotheses to test. Then execute the experiment by having students choose objects from each category, make predictions regarding which objects will decompose and how quickly, and follow through on the experiment.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">Following the experiment, allow for a discussion focusing on critical thinking skills. Allow for discussion on what problems have been revealed in this experiment and discussion. \"What kinds of things did you predict would decompose quickly? Slowly? Not at all? What happened? Which of your predictions was verified? Which weren't? Why not? What can we say about what kinds of things decompose? Why? How are the things that decompose similar? How do they differ from those that don't decompose? Do you think that's the reason these did and those didn't? Why or why not? Can we generalize?\" The class can discuss this at length, trying out generalizations, and possibly testing them with follow-up experiments.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">In evaluating man-made objects, and assumptions about their use, ask if it is important to use them, and under what circumstances can natural objects be substituted. \"Do we really need to make it out of plastic, or are you just assuming we do because you've always seen them that way?\"</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Editors' note:</strong> Why do people often prefer to use man-made materials such as plastic? What problems does this cause? Where do man-made materials end up? What effects does that have?\" <a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/strategy-list-35-dimensions-of-critical-thought/466#s35\">S-35</a></span></p>\r\n<p><br style=\"clear: both;\" /></p>","public_access":"1","public_downloads":"1","sku":"","files":{},"images":{}}

Sentences That Ask


Objectives of the Remodeled Lesson


2nd Grade

The Students Will: