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Teaching Kids to Think Critically in the Age of Accountability

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Many believe that we are seeing a critical absence among students of the ability to think critically. Some blame it on the emphasis on standardized testing; others see it as a weakness in critical-thinking skills even among adults. Our guests offer tips on how to work critical thinking into our teaching as early as possible.





To Read


Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs by Ellen Galinsky


“Getting Specific About Critical Thinking” – article in Education Week Teacher by Daniel McMahon: http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2011/09/27/fp_mcmahon.html


“Can We Teach Creative and Critical Thinking?” – article at Good Education by Zoe Burgess: http://www.good.is/post/can-we-teach-creative-and-critical-thinking/


To Learn More


Foundation for Critical Thinking: www.criticalthinking.org

Critical Thinking Education Group: http://www.criticalteaching.org/


To Play


It Takes Two


Divergent problem solving is essential to creative- and critical-thinking skills. As the children respond in a variety of ways, be sure to point out the different solutions so they begin to understand there’s more than one way “correct answer!”


How to Play: Challenge pairs of children to connect various body parts – one set at a time – and to find how many different ways they can move without breaking the connection. When they’ve had ample time to explore the possibilities, invite them to try another set of body parts. Possible connections include:

  • right (left) hands
  • both hands
  • right (left) elbows
  • both elbows
  • one or both knees
  • right (left) feet
  • backs


Another Way to Play: As an alternative, suggest non-matching body parts, like a hand to an elbow, a hand to the back, or a wrist to a shoulder.

Adapted from Great Games for Young Children by Rae Pica (Silver Spring MD: Gryphon House, 2006)

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Rae Pica has been an education consultant specializing in the development and education of the whole child, children's physical activity, and active learning since 1980. A former adjunct instructor with the University of New Hampshire, she is the author of 19 books, including the text Experiences in Movement and Music and, most recently, What If Everybody Understood Child Development?: Straight Talk About Bettering Education and Children's Lives. Rae has shared her expertise with such groups as the Sesame Street Research Department, the Head Start Bureau, Centers for Disease Control, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Nickelodeon's Blue's Clues, Gymboree, Nike, and state health departments throughout the country. She is a member of the executive committee of the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences and is co-founder of BAM Radio Network, where she hosts Studentcentricity, interviewing experts in education, child development, play research, the neurosciences, and more on teaching with students at the center.

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Guest Friday, 22 February 2019