Critical Thinking and Intellectual Rigor

Life Long Learning & Associates
Professional Development Series

Critical Thinking and Intellectual Rigor
Grades K-12


Prepare your students and your school to meet the demands of the Common Core Standards.   The Common Core Standards reflect the kind of thinking expected by both colleges and industry.  To ensure your students are college and career ready, as well as equipped with the skills to perform well on the new Smarter Balance or PARCC assessments, this series of professional development sessions is absolutely a must.

Session #1  Higher Order Thinking and Questioning

  • What is the difference between higher order thinking, reasoning  and critical thought?

  • How do we develop a classroom culture conducive to thinking?

  • How do the  “Three Questions” help us to establish a purpose for the work?

  • Why is the cultivation of critical thinking pertinent to today’s educational outcomes and the Common Core?

  • How well do standardized tests capture student thinking?

  • Using Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK)  framework for determining intellectual rigor.

  • What tools are available to assist & coach teachers in planning for thinking?

  • What does the research teach us about the alignment of classroom practices and desire for intellectual rigor?

Modeled Strategies:  Think-Pair-Share, Cold Call, Chunk & Chew, Four Corners, Communication Lines, Very Important Point  

Session #2   Cultivating Reasoning: Comparison & Classification

  • What graphic organizers can be used to increase the intellectual rigor when making comparisons?

  • Why Venn Diagrams will not satisfy the needs of Common Core Standards.

  • What criteria should beconsidered when designing classification activities?

  • What relevance does this type of reasoning have to do with 21st century skills and the Common Core Standards?

  • How do we explicitly teach these skills to students, so they become effective reasoners?

  • How do we use scoring rubrics to assess student thinking?

  • What type of classifications activities increase rigor?

  • What is the instructional scaffold for teaching students how to use a comparison matrix effectively?

  • What is key to making this reasoning strategy powerful for students.

Modeled Strategies: Values Corner, Comparison Matrix, Dichotomous Key, Four corners, List-Group-Label, Semantic Feature Analysis

Session #3  Inductive Reasoning and Faulty Thinking

  • What is the process of inductive reasoning, and how does it differ from deductive reasoning?

  • What is the role of inductive reasoning in the understanding the Common Core Standards?

  • What are the factors that influence our ability to do inductive reasoning?

  • What are the pitfalls (faulty thinking) to avoid when using inductive reasoning skills?

  • Why is teaching induction important to the quality of our work and our democracy?

  • How can we teach our students to become more disciplined in their thinking process?

  • How do the Common Core Standards scaffold the inductive reasoning process?

  • How does teaching induction improve the quality of student writing?

Modeled Strategies: Annotating Text, Concept Wheel, Concept Attainment, Induction Matrix Ordeal by Check

Session #4   Deductive Reasoning and Errors in Thinking

  • How is deductive reasoning used in the real world?

  • Why is knowing the difference between induction and deduction important?

  • What is the deductive process?

  • Is all deductive reasoning effective?

  • What are the common errors we make in the thinking process.

  • What are some of the most common logical fallacies I should teach my students?

  • How will knowing this process and the errors in thinking help my student be successful on SBAC and PARCC assessments?

  • Where is the teaching of deduction embedded in the Common Core Standards?

Modeled Strategies:   Expert Jigsaw,  Values Corners, Chunk & Chew,  9 Squares

Session #5  A Beginner’s Guide to Critical Thinking (Elements of Thinking)

  • What is the relationship between reasoning skills and critical thinking?

  • What is the relationship between academic content and thinking?

  • What are the key elements of all thinking?  How can we use these skills everyday in the classroom?

  • Are all good reasoners, critical thinkers?

  • How do beliefs and values, hinder and/or enhance the ability to think critically?

  • How do I introduce the concept of critical thinking to young children?

  • Using the elements of thinking to frame student analysis of text, video, speech

  • The elements of thinking and the Common Core Standards.

  • Socratic questioning techniques.

  • What questioning taxonomy can I use to develop critical thought

  • Why comprehension is not enough.

  • The difference between comprehension of text and analysis of text.

Modeled Strategies: Reciprocal Teaching, Talking to the Text, Closed Reading Socratic Questioning Techniques

Session#6 Designing a Critical Thinking Classroom

  • What are the intellectual standards for critical thinking?

  • What criteria do I need to consider when developing critical thinking activities?

  • How do I teach my students to ask the right questions?

  • What does it mean to be a fair-minded thinker?

  • How does assessment need to change in my classroom?

  • How does critical thinking in the 21st century impact the 22nd?

  • How SBAC and PARCC are designing tests to evaluate student thinking.

Modeled Strategies: Socratic Seminars

Session#7  Designing Assessments Tools –  PARCC & SBAC

  • What is the difference between open-ended, extended response and essay questions?

  • What criteria do I need to consider when developing open-ended questions?

  • What criteria do I need to consider when developing performance-based assessments?

  • How do I assess the quality of my student’s thinking using open-ended questions and performance based tools?

  • What intellectual standards need to be evaluated?

  • What core curriculum standards lend themselves to an open-ended and/or performance-based design?

  • How do I evaluate student thinking using the Life Long Learning Critical Thinking Rubric

Modeled Strategies: Helping Trios, Performance-based Tasks, Open-ended Questions

Session #8  Advanced Critical Thinking: Problem Solving, Decision Making and Analysis of Perspectives and Evaluation

  • What are the pre-requisite skills required for critical thinking?

  • What skills do students need to learn, in order to self- assess (metacognition)?

  • What tools do critical thinkers use to construct, support, and analyze arguments?

  • How do we help student learn to take control of their thinking process?

  • Understanding the implications, consequences of one’s thinking?

  • Exploring intellectual traits for critical thought.

  • The relationship between critical thinking standards, traits and the elements of thought.

Embedded Activities for Collaborative Action Research (CT-PLC)

  • Unpacking critical Common Core Standards

  • Designing student skill building activities

  • Creating intellectual rigorous assessments

  • Scoring student work with Critical Thinking Rubrics

  • Collecting student achievement data (longitudinal data)

  • Creating lessons that connect reading, thinking, speaking and writing standards.


Trainer for Trainers Model is Available on Request

Implementation Strategies Available:

1.  Full day sessions

2.  Intersession collaborative action research – by team(administrator, coach, teacher)

3.  Classroom observations (data collection tools) and/or coaching

4.  Facilitator (future PD providers) training and coaching

5.  Collecting and analysis of student work products

6.  Evaluation of student thinking – longitudinal study over the three years