Students engage in purposeful and reflective evaluations and judgements about what to believe or what to do in response to observation, experience, and communication. Students:

Critical Thinking and Reasoning Assessment Tools

Videos - What Does it Look Like?
Promising Practices - Critical Thinking & Reasoning - Academy School District 20

Best Practices: Students use purposeful and reflective evaluation and judgments based upon evidence===
  • Students identify authentic problems and questions for investigation
  • Students find, evaluate, and select appropriate resources and information
  • Students draw conclusions,make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge.
  • Students maintain a critical stance by questioning the validity, seeking divergent perspectives, and accuracy of information

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving is used to:

  • Identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation
  • Plan and manage activities to complete a project or develop a solution
  • Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions
  • Use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions
From ISTE Nets: Critical thinking is the process of evaluating propositions or hypotheses and making judgements about them on the basis of well-supported evidence.


Critical thinking is assumed to be the purposeful and reflective judgement about what to believe or what to do in response to observations, experience, verbal or written expressions, or arguments.

What does it look like?

From IB Making the PYP Happen: A curriculum framework for international primary education.

When learning about and through the subject areas, students acquire the particular skills that define thediscipline of those subjects. For example, in language the students become literate, and in mathematicsthey become numerate. The acquisition of literacy and numeracy, in its broadest sense, is essential, as these skills provide students with the tools of inquiry.Thinking skills
Acquisition of knowledge
Gaining specific facts, ideas, vocabulary; remembering in a similar form.
Grasping meaning from material learned; communicating and interpreting learning
Making use of previously acquired knowledge in practical or new ways.
Taking knowledge or ideas apart; separating into component parts; seeing relationships; finding unique characteristics.
Combining parts to create wholes; creating, designing, developing and innovating.
Making judgments or decisions based on chosen criteria; standards and conditions.
Dialectical thought
Thinking about two or more different points of view at the same time; understanding those points of view; being able to construct an argument for each point of view based on knowledge of the other(s); realizing that other people can also take one's own point of view.
Analysing one's own and others' thought processes; thinking about how one thinks and how one learns.

Research skills (problem solving)
Formulating Questions
Identifying something one wants or needs to know and asking compelling and relevant questions that can be researched.
Developing a course of action; writing an outline; devising ways of finding out necessary information.
Recording data
Describing and recording observations by drawing, note taking, making charts, tallying, writing statements
Collecting data
Gathering information from a variety of first- and second-hand sources such as maps, surveys, direct observation, books, films, people, museums and ICT.
Organizing data
Sorting and categorizing information; arranging into understandable forms such as narrative descriptions, tables, timelines, graphs and diagrams.
Interpreting data
Drawing conclusions from relationships and patterns that emerge from organized data.
Presenting research findings
Effectively communicating what has been learned; choosing appropriate media.

Published research:

Theory into Practice: Best Practices for a School-Wide Approach to Critical Thinking Instruction.

Educators at one Georgia high school identified improved student proficiency in critical thinking as a major school goal. In order to infuse thinking skills instruction across the curriculum, a nine-member interdisciplinary team of teachers worked with a learning consultant for 1 year. Collaboration resulted in the development of a new model for systemic infusion of critical thinking skills, the CRTA model. The CRTA acronym derives from four recursive, interdependent steps that are designed to enhance students' thinking skills: Create the right climate (create a nonthreatening environment, model a positive attitude, and commit time and resources); Reflect on thinking/Revise instructional objectives (test beliefs about thinking, define critical thinking, and revise instructional objectives); Teach thinking skills/dispositions explicitly (examine assumptions about thinking skills, find the time to teach thinking skills, teach thinking skills explicitly, and teach thinking dispositions); and Assess critical thinking for real-life use (specify what is to be assessed, use comprehensive methods of assessment, provide frequent assessments with feedback, and use assessment results to improve learning). (Contains 30 references.) (SM)

Critical thinking example in a 5th grade classroom: Students brainstorm the difference between primary and secondary sources. Students use the American Memory website from the Library of Congress to ask questions and research primary sources about a specific topic. The students differentiate fact from opinion when analyzing, and speculate about each source, its creator, and its content. Students summarize what they learn by giving reasons and evidence to support conclusions.

Link from Nancy: Critical Thinking Resources:

In the 21st Century, technology, software programs, and the ability to access the World Wide Web is available to most students. It is also available to anyone wishing to publish and write their thoughts, opinions or factual findings for others to read. This can be done in various ways; through publication using paper media developed with the use of software making the information look genuine and credible, or through postings and publication on the Web. Students need to develop the ability to critically think about the material that they come across and to distinguish between which materials are based on fact or are simply an opinions. The same media that challenges them to critically think about what they read and learn, will also help them to problem solve and answer their questions. Therefore, students need to not only learn and develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, but also the ability to use the media and technology that is available to them to aid them in their journey through the 21st Century. Using Blooms's taxonomy students can formulize questions and processess that will guide them through their thinking process. Critical tinking- Bloom's taxonomy
  • evaluate
  • analyze
  • synthesize
  • interpret
  • reflect
In the critical thinking/problem solving process students can also use reasoning to help them determine the best possible conclusion to a question and toestablish how they arrived at that conclusion. Sometimes this may prompt them to rethink and begin the process again. Reasoning (types of thinking)