Critical thinking ideas for middle school

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How critical thinking ideas for middle school students own their learning with critical thinking activities they’ll really love? Allowing our students to take stands on issues that matter to them engages the classroom in a way that fosters great critical thinking.

Let’s get to the critical thinking skills that really matter. Students pair up according to similar physical attributes determined by the facilitator. These include hair color, eye color, hand size, and height. For each attribute, students discuss times when they were discriminated against because of it. They then take on the roles as victim, perpetrator, or bystander and discuss. When posed with a thought-provoking prompt, students line themselves up along a U-shaped continuum representing where they stand on that issue.

The sides of the U are opposite extremes, with the middle being neutral. The teacher starts a discussion by giving equal opportunity for individuals in each area of the continuum to speak about their stand. By using silence and writing, students can focus on other viewpoints. Students work in pairs or threes to have a conversation on the Big Paper. Students can write at will, but it must be done in silence after a reflection on the driving question. This strategy is great for introverts, and provides a ready made visual record of thought for later. Students are given time to consider their feelings on a thought-provoking abstract or concrete image.