Critical thinking skills, or global skills, as they are now known, are essential for all students in order for them to be prepared to participate in an increasingly global economy. More than just basic memorisation and recitation, the ability to reason and innovate are now the most sought-after skills by today’s employers. The good news is that, it is simple to integrate all of these skills into your daily lesson plans while also differentiating for abilities, learning styles and multiple intelligences. Keep reading, for easy ways to help your students learn to think critically and innovate in the classroom.
Brainteasers are some of the best strategies to encourage students to think around a problem or riddle instead of trying to memorise solutions. For example, use idioms such as “ban ana” (banana split) to challenge students. Playing a “Boggle” style game with the weekly spelling words is also a way to foster creativity and creation of original products.
Present students with a number, then challenge them to find as many ways to reach that number as possible. For example, the number 48 can be reached by 12 x 4, 40 + 8, et cetera. Another way to think critically using math, is to use real-world examples, such as grocery shopping or household budgeting.
Using discussion in Socratic Seminars and literacy groups fosters higher level thinking skills by requiring students to defend statements with evidence from the text that is being read. Learners also benefit by using Frayer’s models for vocabulary, which include pictures, writing sentences, and creating synonyms. Budding writers can show their creativity by writing new endings to existing stories or rewriting them using another point of view.
Innovation is the key of STEM, which lends itself to so many interactive and creative activities. Experiments like the egg drop, marshmallow challenge, and craft stick bridge building make students really think about solutions to problems and work as a team. The critical thinking skills of hypothesising, analysing and evaluating are all represented in an average STEM lesson.
Creativity is in full force in these classes, and students have the perfect opportunity to show their original ideas and talent. Composing music inspired by established artists while incorporating their own signature is one of the most innovative projects students can engage in. In visual arts, integrating themes from other curricula and adapting them in differing media is a good way to give relevance to all subjects while showing innovation.
There are endless ways to build your students’ critical thinking skills. Check Google, Pinterest and other educational sites for ideas, and make it a goal to use at least one every day. If you are familiar with Kagan strategies, they are also a good way to help build skills in younger students. Helping learners to become global citizens with the abilities to compete globally is the best way we can serve our students. Good luck and keep innovating!
By Betina Fuentes
Betina is a Cycle 2 teacher at a girls’ school in Al Ain. She and her family are from Florida, USA and are enjoying their time in the UAE. She is looking forward to travelling, meeting other new teachers, and helping her students learn as much as they can.