Monday, November 9, 2015

The Critical Thinking Co. ~ Practical Critical Thinking

I had to opportunity to review Practical Critical Thinking along with the Teacher's Manual published by The Critical Thinking Co.. This workbook is for grades 9-12+. There are 8 chapter in this workbook. By laying a strong foundation of critical thinking students are better prepared when faced with important decisions.

What exactly is Critical Thinking?
Critical Thinking is the process of disciplining one to think clearly, rationally, with an open-mind, and to be informed by evidence through examining, analyzing, questioning and challenging situations, issues, and information. Critical Thinking sets out to find truth from partial truth or thinking based on false premises or assumptions. Thinking critically requires one to consider the whole context of a problem, issue or situation without assuming what is or isn't there.

Practical Critical Thinking includes the following units of study:
  • Becoming a Critical Thinker
  • Adding to My Critical Thinking Toolbox
  • Critical Thinking and Arguments
  • Applying My Critical Thinking
Students explore a wide range of topics that require critical thinking through activities such as:
  • Prediction Time
  • Student Poll
  • Thought Experiments
  • Group Activities
The activities in this workbook are specifically written to engage in the unique mindset of the teenage brain. Instead of simply reading about the importance of critical thinking the student will take part in activities that help them understand the importance of critical thinking. They will answer questions such as:
  • Why Care About Critical Thinking?
  • What Makes Me A Critical Thinker?
  • What Is Critical Thinking?
  • What Is An Argument?
  • What Are Fallacies?
  • What Is Circumstantial Evidence?
Have you ever wondered about the make-up of the teen brain?

Along the way your student will be filling up their "Critical Thinking Toolbox". What exactly is a CTT? Well, it is the tools that we use in order to be able to think critical such as: 
  • distinguishing between possible, probable, and proven
  • how individuals use arguments to persuade
  • avoiding errors in our reasoning
  • the ways advertising lures us in and techniques to sort out the truth
How we used the curriculum
I used this with both my 7th, 9th, and 10th grade children. We decided to use an around the table type of discussion in order to complete the lessons. My teenagers found the activities to be interesting and fun to work through. Not only did my teens learn strategies for critical thinking but as a mom I learned ALOT about how they think and process the world around them. Not only did my children gain a "toolbox" of critical thinking skills but I also gained a "toolbox" to better help me guide and understand the way my children think through things. 

Each chapter is broken down into manageable sections. Each chapter wraps up with; Chapter Summary & Important Takeaways, Individual Activities, and Group Activities & Discussion.

As a parent I loved the chapter on Advertising. In todays culture it is so very easy to get sucked into the hype of commercialism. I appreciated this chapter and the impact it had on my teens. When information comes from a neutral source it is sometimes more readily accepted. Impressionable teenagers, if taught the strategies that advertising utilizes in combination with critical thinking are better prepared when faced with important monetary decisions. 

My son is interested in possibly entering the police force and really liked the chapter on, Eyewitness Testimony, Direct & Circumstantial Evidence. My son enjoyed an activity where he read case notes and facts and then had to identify evidence, inferences, and had to come to a conclusion. 

Teacher's Manual
The teacher's manual is divided into two sections:
  1. Answers
  2. Reproducible Activities
Since answers will vary with each student student the answer section gives guidelines as to "ballpark answers" that you as the teacher should be looking for. I found this to be very helpful in two regards; to make sure that my children were thinking along the correct lines, and it also helped to further discuss and cover thinking that they or I may not have thought about. 

The second section contains reproducible activities that are found in the student book. Each reproducible contains the page number that correlates with the student book. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, I was quite pleased with this curriculum. Critical Thinking is an important tool and The Critical Thinking Co. does an amazing job at preparing the student to be able to think critically. I will definitely continue to use The Critical Thinking Co. in the future. I would also highly recommend this curriculum to others.

“If we teach children everything we know, their knowledge is limited to ours. If we teach children to think, their knowledge is limitless.” 
 Michael Baker, President of The Critical Thinking Co.

To read more reviews click HERE.

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