Developing Critical Thinking Skills with TeachThoughtStephanie Sommers, ACES Coordinator
Sometimes it takes a little while before you see a pattern emerge. When looking for articles and resources to inform some of the professional development sessions that I have been working on this spring related to strategy instruction and metacognition, I noticed that the results I was finding could often be traced back to one particular website.
I needed some ideas on using reflection journals to promote metacognition. I was interested in using questioning techniques as a learning strategy. I searched for sentence stems that could be used to develop deeper critical thinking skills. With each search, my results took me back to TeachThought (teachthought.com). I decided it was time to pay this website some attention, and add it to the Critical Thinking section of the ACES resource library.
The first thing I noticed is that the TeachThought website is busy. There are ads and images, and I had to dig around a little before I could even figure out what TeachThought is all about. According to the “About” section of the website, “TeachThought is a brand dedicated to innovation in K-20 education. This is pursued by growing teaching through thought leadership, resource curation, curriculum development, podcast publishing, and face-to-face professional development in schools.” This concept was developed by a former English teacher who wanted to, among other things, explore digital literacy and how to best serve the needs of students in a changing world.
Since the website does have a lot of content and features, new users might need to invest a little bit of time in exploring the navigation. Here are some of the highlights:
- Podcasts that explore a wide variety of educational topics. Some titles that looked interesting to me: “What the Research Says about Quality PBL” (Episode 109), “Empowering Teachers to Accelerate Deeper Learning” (Episode 106), and “Changing the Landscape of Math Teaching” (Episode 116).
- A curated collection of critical thinking resources. This is where there are lots of resources related to using questioning techniques with students. Some of these are longer articles, while others are simply a list of questions or question stems to use in the classroom. There are also resources for creating a classroom culture that encourages problem solving as well as ideas for using a problem-based learning (PBL) approach. I was also intrigued by several resources for using a version of Bloom’s Taxonomy specifically for digital literacy and 21st century skills.
- Educational technology resources. There is a current article highlighting the 12 best learning apps for 2018, and one about a search engine that is a Google alternative focusing on privacy.
Taken as a whole, there is a lot to like about TeachThought. The ads can be distracting and the section for curricula seems to link to a fee-based website, but there are still many wonderful articles and resources available. For instructors looking for ideas on increasing rigor in the classroom, using more technology to support instruction, and creating an environment rich in critical thinking, I think you will be glad that you took the time to explore.
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