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Critical Thinking in a Digital World

Critical thinking, as a concept, can be defined in terms of knowledge, analysis, comprehension, application, synthesis, and evaluation. It involves conceptualizing vast amounts of information, analyzing that information objectively, and applying our findings to solve problems. In today’s world, critical thinking requires us to possess time management skills, to be able to prioritize tasks, and to recognize disinformation.

In the past, emphasis was placed on learning content, memorizing content and presenting content. The need to do this no longer exists when content is at our fingertips and one search away. When considering the vast amount of content and data available, critical thinking is a must for today’s students. It is, for the time being, what separates us from machines. Much of the information available today can be classified as disinformation and propaganda. As such, critical thinking is a way to guard against being manipulated by those who disseminate it.

Due to the enormous amount of information available through technology (the Internet), a student’s ability to take in and assess that information to form their own opinion is much more important. The intrusion of technology into our social lives increases the need for critical thinking in ways that were not even conceived of in the past. Today, critical thinking must include not only the information we receive, but also its delivery method and source.

How do we build skills to support students’ quest for credible, relevant and useful information? Initially it was thought that simply teaching students the basics of information literacy would suffice. It has not. As access to information has increased, so has the need for guard rails and greater attention to critical thinking. Students need to recognize not only when information may seem fake; but understand the nature of ‘deep’ fakes (manipulation of audio and video) and realize that authenticating sources needs more than a quick background check. A complex skillset that includes a deep understanding of what is involved in critical thinking can ensure that the information they find is viable and trustworthy.

“Teaching students (and let’s be honest, the adults) how to recognize ads, bias in sources, reliability of the source, etc. is so important. With my undergrads, we talk about whether or not something passes the CRAAP test.” ~ Jennifer Marten, Ph.D. NBCT

How can educators teach critical thinking and information literacy that students find accessible and engaging? First, educators need to cultivate critical thinking for themselves and feel confident teaching it as well as information literacy. As students begin to research topics, explain the need to be cautious about the information they encounter and encourage them to be skeptical about the possibility the information may be fake. When students begin to exercise critical thinking, they should be reminded to consider there may be more than one answer to their question, that diligence will be rewarded, and flexibility may be needed.

How and why should teachers help students recognize misinformation and question their own beliefs? Social media has become an integral part of students’ lives. Social media companies rely on targeted content to enhance their business models creating information silos which divide society and isolate individuals. Students can be taught to question their own beliefs by reflecting on the information they receive, questioning it and considering alternatives; all by enhancing their critical thinking skills.

A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10AM AEST/1AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

Thinking Like a Lawyer: A Framework for Teaching Critical Thinking to All Students | Colin E Seale

An Evaluation of Gifted Students Perceptions on Critical Thinking Skills | Journal for the Education of Gifted Young Scientist

TEMPO: Critical and Creative Thinking (pdf)

An Analysis of Critical Thinking Skills with Gifted and General Education Students: Relationships between Cognitive, Achievement, and Demographic Variables (pdf) | Todd Kettler

The Assessment of Critical Thinking Skills of Gifted Children Before and After Taking a Critical Thinking Development Course (Abstract Only) | Thinking Skills & Creativity

Utilizing Critical Thinking in the Digital Information Age?

1.2 The Skills Needed in a Digital Age

Top 5 Skills You Need to Survive the Digital Age

Developing Critical Thinking Skills for Success in the Digital Age

Critical Thinking: A Necessity of the Digital Age

The Importance of Critical Thinking in the Digital Age

Cultivating Critical Thinking in the Information Age

Critical Thinking in a Digital Age: Professor Renee Hobbs on Contemporary Propaganda

Mind Over Media: Propaganda Education for a Digital Age (book)

Digital Literacies and the Skills of the Digital Age

Digitization Critical Thinking

10 Tips for Teaching Critical Thinking + Information Literacy

To Navigate All the Junk on the Internet, You Need Powers of Critical Thinking — but also Critical Ignoring

Critical Thinking: A Model of Intelligence for Solving Real-World Problems

Critical Thinking in Curriculum Design A Differentiated Approach to Critical Thinking in Curriculum Design | Todd Kettler

Critical Thinking Skills Profile of Elementary Students in Learning Mathematics | Test Engineering and Management

An Enrichment Workshop using Argumentation-Based Forensic Chemistry Activities to Improve the Critical Thinking of Gifted Students | Journal of Science Learning

Cybraryman’s Critical Thinking Page

What is Critical Thinking | Gifted Today

3 Steps to Civil Discourse in the Classroom (pdf)

AllSides

Image courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad

Teaching Decision Making Skills to GT Students

It’s important to teach GT students decision-making skills; in part, because too many adults assume they already possess these skills based on their intellect when they may not. GT students need to learn the importance of ‘good’ decision-making as opposed to simply making a decision. Good decisions are based on principles and process. When poor decisions are made, it affects everyone. It can mean the difference between success and failure. As future leaders, GT students can increase their chances of success through good decision-making.

A good decision maker is a good listener who can evaluate the situation logically and is able to prioritize existing values important to them. Being a good decision maker involves the ability to analyze the problem while having an open mind to other viewpoints. Good decision makers must be flexible in their thinking and be willing to change when reality dictates a new course.

Decisions can be made by individuals or groups. Individuals need to follow the process as described above – listening, analyzing, prioritizing & deciding. Group decisions involve either Majority Rule or Consensus Rule. Majority Rule is used when decision makers are presented with clear-cut choices which are widely vetted, but no single decision is made within a necessary time-frame. The decision is made by putting it to a vote. Consensus Rule involves making an equitable decision agreed upon be all members of a group when time is not of the essence.

Students need to learn the difference between problem solving and good decision making. They are not the same thing. Problem solving involves decisions based on conditions beyond your control. Good decisions are based on clarity, consideration and choice (3Cs). First, clarify the decision to be made; consider the consequences of the decision; and then make the best choice. Good decision making should involve the values, experience and knowledge, and common sense of the decision maker.

One of the failures of modern education is allowing students to participate only in inconsequential decision making while still in school. GT students are often the first to see the inequity of this situation. When taught the skills of good decision-making, students can become more fully engaged by being given opportunities to make decisions about their education; including leadership teams, advisory boards and peer mediation groups.

Parents can also teach decision-making skills at home as a way to reinforce lessons learned at school. They can engage their children in decision-making through role playing, debate and discussions within the family, with board games, and during simple play activities.

A transcript of this chat may be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10AM AEST/1AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

Teaching Decision Making: The Importance of Good Decisions

Youth Advisory Council: Decision Making Handout | Michigan.gov

Students as Decision-Makers

5 Decision Making Skills for Successful Leaders

Effective Decision Making (pdf)

Decision-Making Process | UMass Dartmouth

Math Can Help Teach Students to Make Good Decisions, Inside and Outside the Classroom

Problem Finding, Problem Solving, and Decision Making: Critical Skills in Today’s World | Free Spirit Books

SEL & Beyond: Responsible Decision Making

Help children make good choice | Decision Making skill (SODAS Method) (YouTube 7:32)

The Importance of Decision Making Skills

30 Responsible Decision-Making Books for Children

Let’s Get Real with Middle School Class Culture: 7 Activities to Foster Positive Decision Making

Decision-Making Activities for Teens

Types of Decision Making

April Lesson Plan: Responsible Problem Solving Week 2 – Teach Responsible Decision Making in Coronavirus Times  

4 Behavioral Factors in the Decision Making Process (pdf)

Decision Making Process | Lumen Learning

Fun Activities to Teach Children about Decision-Making Skills

What is Decision Education? | Alliance for Decision Education

Worksheet for Making Responsible Decisions | Worksheet Place

5 YouTube Videos That Will Help Your Students Make Better Decisions

Helping K-12 Students Make Better Choices

For Better Life Outcomes, Integrate SEL with Decision-Making Strategies

Stanford Study Confirms What We Already, Painfully, Know: Today’s Youth Struggle in Deciding What Is Fact vs Fiction

Essential Skills for Becoming a Better Decision Maker

Importance of Decision Making Skills for Students and Managers

Cybraryman’s Critical Thinking Page

25 Of The Best Resources For Teaching Critical Thinking

The CoRT Tools | The Edward de Bono Foundation

Image courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad

The Impact of Critical Thinking on Society

 

This week’s Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT tackled the issue of the impact of critical thinking on society. Our guest was Colin Seale, founder of thinkLaw and author of Thinking like a Lawyer. Colin Seale is an educator, attorney, and critical thinking expert. He founded thinkLaw, an award-winning organization, to help educators leverage inquiry-based instructional strategies that can close the critical thinking gap and ensure they teach and reach all students. Colin is a contributor to Forbes, Education Post, and The 74.

Critical thinking embodies the ability to recognize and challenge assumptions, understand context in a given situation, a willingness to work through complexities and change when faced with evidence contrary to one’s own view. It encompasses compare and contrast; sequencing; and analysis and assessment of ideas. Critical thinking can be formed through Socratic questioning, PBL, identifying ‘big’ ideas, and by listening to student voice and then providing feedback.

We are living in unprecedented times where society is faced with complex problems, disinformation, anti-intellectualism, a lack of social justice, and inequitable laws; all over-shadowed by an uncontrolled, global Pandemic. Critical thinking skills provide greater problem-solving ability, increased rigor in classrooms that lead to higher test scores, self-discipline, ability to think clearly, and to deal effectively with change. Critical thinking skills lead to valuing and respecting the ideas of fellow citizens, empathy, more creativity, and a well-functioning democracy.

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If critical thinking is so important, why aren’t students exposed to it more in school? Critical thinking leads learners to independent thinking, questioning the status quo, consideration of opposing points of view, and the potential to adopt new ways of thinking. Change is hard. How we educate our children has changed little in over a century. Exposing students to critical thinking requires institutions to consider alternative ways of doing things. It requires not just change, but smart change. Today’s classrooms are generally viewed as authoritarian filled with students who complain of boredom and question the value of education. We need to move to a forum where students are cognitively challenged to facilitate critical thinking.

In “Thinking Like a Lawyer,” Colin argued access to critical thinking paves the road to equity and racial justice. How can schools improve access to critical thinking instruction? Schools should allow time for deep dives into topics and student reflection. Elimination of relentless repetition and requiring accuracy in outcomes would be especially beneficial for GT students. Improving teacher preparation at the undergraduate level and ongoing professional development on how to teach critical thinking skills could increase the number of students who gain these skills. The simple reduction in the amount of standardized testing prevalent in schools today will allow teachers the time to refocus learning away from rote memorization and teaching to the test.

Online resources that provide a forum for discussion, small group activities as well as peer review activities can aid in integrating critical thinking skills into the curriculum. Many of these forums are already in use for remote learning such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Docs. Online tools that facilitate reflection activities such as Canvas are widely in current use by schools. Digital Storytelling tools include Weebly, Edublogs, and Storybird.

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How can parents help their children develop critical thinking skills? Parents are their child’s first teacher; the first line of defense of continuing societal norms. Critical thinking can be nurtured by engaging in deep, meaningful conversation with children accompanied by honest feedback. They should encourage their child to reflect on their own thoughts, to embrace experiences they may see as difficult, and to see failure as a pathway to growth.

A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10 AM AEST/1 AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Lisa Conrad About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

Thinking Like a Lawyer: A Framework for Teaching Critical Thinking to All Students (book) | Colin Seale

Teaching Critical Thinking Skills to Fourth Grade Students Identified as Gifted and Talented (Google Doc)

Fostering Critical Thinking in Children and K-12 Students

A Deceptively Simple Strategy for Promoting Critical Thinking | Edutopia

Starting Critical Thinking and Collaboration Early (YouTube 4:01) | Edutopia

5 Ways to Boost Critical Thinking in World Language Classes | Edutopia

Preparing Social Studies Students to Think Critically in the Modern World | Edutopia

Help Students Develop Critical Thinking Online and in the Classroom (Webinar – free registration req’d) | Free Spirit Publishing

Teaching Critical Thinking Skills in the Online Classroom

Using Technology to Develop Students’ Critical Thinking Skills

26 Critical Thinking Tools Aligned With Bloom’s Taxonomy (pdf)

Copyright and Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens: Resources for Teaching Copyright and Fair Use

Poynter Institute – MediaWise: How to Sort Fact from Fiction Online

Book Excerpt: ‘Thinking Like a Lawyer’ Explores How to Close the Critical Thinking Gap for All Students |  Colin Seale

Why I Wrote ‘Thinking Like a Lawyer’: Because Teaching Critical Thinking to All Students Paves a Path to Racial Justice | Colin Seale

A Society with Poor Critical Thinking Skills: The Case for ‘Argument’ in Education

What are the Importance and Benefits of “Critical Thinking Skills”?

Thinking Critically and Critical Thinking: Integrating Online Tools to Promote Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking: What It Means and How to Foster it in Your Children | International School of Denver

Critical Thinking in Education

The Power of Critical Thinking: Effective Reasoning about Ordinary and Extraordinary Claims 6th Edition (book)

Critical Thinking in Everyday Life

Building Empathy Through Critical Thinking

Making Critical Thinking Matter – Prioritizing Higher Order Instruction in a World of Constraints

Strategies for Teaching Critical Thinking

How to Foster Critical and Creative Thinking

Thinking Like a Lawyer: A Framework for Teaching Critical Thinking to All Students (Webinar 39:51) | Vimeo

Cybraryman’s Critical Thinking Page

The Case For Critical Thinking: The COVID-19 Pandemic And An Urgent Call To Close The Critical Thinking Gap In Education | Forbes

Sometimes the Outcome Is the Equity: Why It’s Critical to Prepare Students of Color to Do Well on Standardized Tests — Even If You’re Not a Fan | Colin Seale

Richard Feynman on Education in Brazil

The Educational Equity Equation Series | thinkLaw

Image courtesy of Pixabay  Pixabay License

Images courtesy of Colin Seale and thinkLaw

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad

 

High-Level Questioning to Deepen Learning

Higher level thinking questions are questions that can’t be answered simply by recalling information or reading the answer from the text. They demand that students display advanced cognitive skills and be able to think beyond what is being asked literally and expect that students will apply, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information pertinent to the question. Students must think critically. Higher order questioning comes with the expectation that students go deeper and reflect on all possible answers.

Higher level thinking skills go beyond mere observation. Students cannot rely on rote memorization to answer questions. They involve forming concepts and making connections. Students demonstrate they get the ‘big picture’. Higher level thinking includes critical or analytical thinking, creative thinking, being able to generate own questions and ideas, and being able to solve problems.

Why should educators use high-level questioning with their GT students? High-level questioning results in high-level thinking which, when developed, produces students who not only understand what’s needed to solve problems, but are able to make decisions and take action. It can increase “the rigor and sophistication of a classroom learning experience.” (MacFarlane PHP 2018) GT students benefit from the increased intellectual rigor that comes from high-level questioning; are able to engage in deeper classroom discussions; and gain a deeper understanding of the content being covered.

Teachers creating higher-level questions need an “in-depth knowledge and understanding of the academic content, effective instructional use of questioning, and evaluation/assessment of student responses”. (MacFarlane PHP 2018) They can use Bloom’s Taxonomy to create higher-level questions. Questions should promote new and different perspectives which require students to defend their answers. Instructional techniques such as SCAMPER and Creative Problem Solving can be used to create higher-level questions. (MacFarlane PHP 2018)

Increasing the complexity of questions throughout the curriculum can be incorporated into daily instruction. Demonstrating how to create and answer questions with multiple answers is a way to foster student participation as well as motivating students to ask themselves questions while exploring the subject matter.

Why is it important to teach students how to ask questions as well as to respond to them? Student generated questions deepen their knowledge of the material being covered, stimulate cognitive processing, and add complexity. Encouraging student inquiry can lead to the exploration of social and emotional aspects contained in the topics being discussed. By having students form their own questions, they learn how to form high quality questions which lead to higher intellectual stimulation and more informative discussions.

A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 2PM NZDT/Noon AEDT/1 AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Lisa Conrad About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

6 Scaffolds That Deepen Independent Learning

High Level Questioning and Cognition in Advanced Curriculum

Questioning Strategies for Teaching the Gifted (book) (aff. link)

Critical Thinking: Frameworks and Models for Teaching

Deeper Learning through Questioning (pdf)

Enhancing Peer Interaction and Learning in the Classroom Through Reciprocal Questioning (pdf)

From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side (pdf)

The Effects of Question-Generation Training on Metacognitive Knowledge, Self-Regulation and Learning Approaches in Science (pdf)

Principles of Instruction Research-Based Strategies That All Teachers Should Know (pdf)

Best Practice Strategies for Effective Use of Questions as a Teaching Tool

Higher-order Questions

Seven Strategies That Encourage Neural Branching

Higher-Order Questioning Inspires Higher-Level Thinking

Framework for Thinking Through Quality Questioning (pdf)

The Importance of Questioning in Developing Critical Thinking Skills (pdf)

Promoting Student Engagement Through a Critical Thinking Framework in the Elementary Classroom (pdf)

Skilful Questioning: The Bearing Heart of Good Pedagogy

Establishing a Culture of Questioning

InQuiring Minds: Reaching Deeper Learning Through Questions

Generating Effective Questions

5 Questions to Tackle in Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques

Teaching Tips for High-Level Questioning

Art and Science of Teaching/Asking Questions – At Four Different Levels

Depth of Knowledge Question Stems

Today’s Disruptors Can Be Tomorrow’s Innovators

Sprite’s Site: New Shoes

Rodriguez Resources GT (Google Drive)

Think Like a Lawyer (YouTube 3:59)

Cybraryman’s Questioning Techniques Page

Cybraryman’s Gifted and Talented Page

Disclaimer: Some resources include affiliate links.

Image courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

 

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