Top Ten Critical Thinking Books For High Schoolers

With the re-designed curriculum in B.C., teachers are preparing to launch the school year with a lot to think about.  The best advice I have for wrapping our heads around the big ideas is to ‘start small’ and choose one area for your school to focus on.  At my school, we have decided to focus on critical thinking.  I’ve spent some time this summer thinking about what will be helpful for supporting my students to think critically – and so, of course, I think of picture books that connect to the three phases of critical thinking – Analyze-Question-Develop.

Here are my top 10 books for promoting Critical Thinking!

1. More-Igami – Dori Kleber

Learning something new takes practice and patience.  In this charming story, a boy tries to figure out how an origami crane is made – he analyzes, questions and develops a plan! What a perfect story for introducing critical thinking!

2. The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires

One of the important stages of critical thinking is to analyze a situation and re-direct your thinking if things are not working.  When the little girl in this book decides to make a ‘most magnificent thing’, it doesn’t exactly go the way she had plans, resulting in a whole lot of frustration- making this a perfect book to begin the conversation about the importance of thinking critically.

3. What To Do With a Box?– Jane Yolen

What can you turn a simple box into?  This simple, charming book by the great Jane Yolen will inspire your students to analyze, question and develop their box into something amazing!

4. What Do You Do With An Idea? – Kobi Yamada

Nurturing ideas and making thinking visible – this story will inspire you to welcome an idea, give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next!

5. Your Fantastic, Elastic Brain – JoAnn Deak

Metacognition is a huge part of being a critical thinker and knowing how your brain works is a great first step in helping making thinking more tangible.  I love how this simple book explains how your brain works and how you can shape it.  I especially like the focus on how making mistakes, practicing, and gaining new knowledge can “stretch” your brain!

5. The Thingamabob – Il Sung Na

When a curious elephant finds a ‘thingamabob’ – he uses critical thinking to figure out exactly what it is!  Simple, playful, delightful!  I love how he asks LOTS of questions during the process!

6. Rosie Revere, Engineer – Andrea Beaty

A young girl with big dreams – this text highlights creativity and perseverance with delightful rhyming verse and whimsical illustrations.

Shh!  We Have A Plan!– Chris Haughton

Hilarious story of four friends trying to catch a bird.  Their plans turn into a ridiculous, tangled mess until the younger uses some critical thinking skills!  Fun read-aloud and eye-catching illustrations.

7.  Going Places – Peter and Paul Reynolds

This book celebrates the creative spirit and thinking outside the box – both figuratively and literally!

8..  On A Beam of Light – A Story of Albert Einstein – Jennifer Berne

When this picture book biography about the extraordinary life of Albert Einstein was released, I talked about it ALL THE TIME!  Big questions, deep thinking, thoughtful reflection – my favorite topics!  This book will inspire your students to  wonder, think, imagine, and be curious.

9. Learning to Fly – Sebastian Meschenmoser

A simple, charming story about a penguin who believes he can fly and the man who helps him.  They plan, design, analyse, re-design… it’s the perfect combination of critical thinking, determination and friendship  Love the illustrations so much!

1o.  A Home For Bird– Philip C. Stead

While stories about creating something concrete can be used to introduce children to critical thinking, it is important for them to see how critical thinking can be applied to other aspects in our life- including friendship.  A Home for Bird is a sweet, tender story of a shy bird and and his thoughtful friend who is determined to help his quiet companion.  Vernon, the toad, uses critical thinking to figure out just what Bird needs.  Love this book!

                            What books do you like to share that inspire critical thinking?

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Tagged as Andrea Beaty, Ashley Spires, Critical Thinking, Dori Kleber, Il Sung Na, Jane Yolen, Jennifer Berne, JoAnn Deak, Kobi Yamada, Peter H. Reynolds, Sebastian Meschenmoser, Top 10 Tuesday

25 Of The Best Resources For Teaching Critical Thinking

by TeachThought Staff

The Stanford University Center for Professional Development recently developed a course of effective classroom in the classroom, and asked us to let you know about it.

This online course consists of three online sessions, three weeks in a row. Each session includes expert video screencasts, classroom video clips, readings and resources, and assignments that will prompt participants to strengthen the curricular foundations of communication the first month of school.

Session 1: Establishing a Classroom Culture of Conversation (August 2-8) – This session provides models and suggested activities for cultivating classrooms that value learning through constructive conversation.

Session 2: Creating Effective Conversation Prompts & Tasks (August 9-15) – This session focuses on how to look at a lesson, envision the conversational opportunities, and craft effective prompts for back and forth conversations between students.

Session 3: Preparing for Effective & Efficient Formative Assessment of Conversations (August 16-22) – The session prepares participants to (1) set up an assessment plan for assessing and reflecting on observations of paired student conversations, (2) provide right-now feedback to students during their conversations, and (3) reflect on conversation assessment to improve teaching and assessment.

See Also:10 Team-Building Games That Promote Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

As an organization, critical thinking is at the core of what we do, from essays and lists to models and teacher training. (You can check out What It Means To Think Critically for a wordier survey of the intent of critical thinking.)

For this post, we’ve gathered various critical thinking resources. As you’ll notice, conversation is a fundamental part of critical thinking, if for no other reason than the ability to identify a line of reasoning, analyze, evaluate, and respond to it accurately and thoughtfully is among the most common opportunities for critical thinking for students in every day life. Who is saying what? What’s valid and what’s not? How should I respond?

This collection includes resources for teaching critical thinking, from books and videos to graphics and models, rubrics and taxonomies to presentations and debate communities. Take a look, and let us know in the comments which you found the most–or least–useful.

25 Of The Best Resources For Teaching Critical Thinking

1. Course: Effective Conversation In The Classroom by Stanford University

2. A Collection Of Research On Critical Thinking by criticalthinking.org

3. The TeachThought Taxonomy for Understanding, a taxonomy of thinking tasks broken up into 6 categories, with 6 tasks per category

4. The Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Test (it’s not free, but you can check out some samples here)

5. It’s difficult to create a collection of critical thinking resources without talking about failures in thinking, so here’s A Logical Fallacies Primer in PowerPoint format.

6. 4 Strategies for Teaching With Bloom’s Taxonomy

7. An Intro To Critical Thinking, a 10-minute video from wireless philosophy that takes given premises, and walks the viewer through valid and erroneous conclusions

8. Why Questions Are More Important Than Answers by Terry Heick

9. A Printable Flip Chart For Critical Thinking Questions (probably easier to buy one for a few bucks, but there it is nonetheless)

11. A Collection Of Bloom’s Taxonomy Posters

12. 6 Facets of Understanding by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe

13. A 3D Model of Bloom’s Taxonomy

14. Helping Students Ask Better Questions

14. Examples Of Socratic Seminar-Style Questions (including stems) from changingminds.org

15. 20 Questions To Guide Inquiry-Based Learning, a 4-step process to guide learning through inquiry and thought

16. Socratic Seminar Guidelines by Grant Wiggins

17. How To Bring Socratic Seminars Into Your Classroom, a 7 minute video by the Teaching Channel

18. How To Teach With The Socratic Seminar Paideia Style, a PDF document by the Paideia that overviews

19. Using The QFT Model To Guide Inquiry & Thought

20. Create Debate, a website that hosts, well, debates

21. Intelligence Squared, Oxford-style debate hosted by NPR–and in podcast format, too

22. 60 Ways To Help Students Think For Themselvesby Terry Heick

23. A Rubric To Assess Critical Thinking (they have several free rubrics, but you have to register for a free account to gain access)

24. 25 Critical Thinking Apps For Extended Student Thought

25. Debate.org, another “debate” community that promotes topic-driven discussion and critical thought

And for something in the way of specific training for staff, there’s always Professional Development on Critical Thinking provided by TeachThought (full disclosure: we’re TeachThought).

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated us via payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will be good for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

25 Of The Best Resources For Teaching Critical Thinking

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