Critical Thinking Activities for Middle School

Instructor: Lindy Hatten

Lindy has a M.Ed in TESOL with a Cross-Cultural concentration from Saint Mary's College of California. She has taught for 25 years at the secondary and university levels.

Critical thinking, a Common Core requirement, is often a challenge at the middle school level. Various strategies can be used to teach students how to analyze reading material and apply it to the real world. Read on to learn more about various levels of questioning as well as different activities that may be used to introduce critical thinking in the classroom.

Critical Thinking and the Middle School Student

Critical thinking is the ability to read something, analyze it, and make real world applications with the information. Its direct application will vary with the type of text students read. For instance, being able to think critically about a poem is significantly different than analyzing findings after a science experiment. Nonetheless, in most cases, the ability to think critically means that a student is able to go beyond the words on the page and understand more deeply what an author is trying to communicate.

Meanwhile, middle school can be a difficult time for some. Students are no longer in elementary school and with the transition to a new school comes more responsibilities and the expectation of a new level of maturity. Students are introduced to more teachers, more classes, and more friends. Mentally, some middle school students are not quite ready for this challenge. Regardless of readiness, Common Core curriculum requires that middle school students learn to think critically. It can be grueling, but is needed, nonetheless.

Bloom's Taxonomy and Costa's Levels of Questioning

There are a number of ways to introduce the concept of critical thinking to students. Bloom's Taxonomy and Costa's Levels of Questioning are two of these methodologies.

Simply stated, Bloom's Taxonomy is a visual tool that lays out the different levels of higher-order thinking skills.

Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, SynthesisEvaluation

While Bloom's Taxonomy uses six levels of comprehension, Costa's Levels of Questioning is visually represented by a three-story house.


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