I have frequently written about the Teaching Innovation Progression (TIP) Chart and use it regularly with the educators I coach. In an ideal classroom that enhances critical thinking and problem solving, students have personal ownership in the teaching and learning, must discern best tools and strategies to employ in order to solve problems, regularly engage in higher order thinking, are asked to justify their decisions and practices, and take part in self-evaluation and reflection. Teachers in these classrooms help students determine individual baselines and benchmarks, incorporate scaffolding to help guide students toward success, encourage student agency, and are free to assist students and monitor their interactions. While the focus is always on the teaching and learning in student-driven classrooms, tools are important resources to help support that instruction. Integrating technology increases the opportunities for critical thinking and problem solving. Making sure to incorporate real-world application makes the learning relevant to students’ lives now, and allowing them to generate the rubrics to guide their processes makes the experiences deeper and long-lasting.
I’m sure we can all agree on the importance of increasing critical thinking and problem solving skills. There are multiple ways to foster these in any classroom. Here are a few:
- Have students create Infographics
- Pose open-ended problems or challenges
- Provide opportunities for role play and simulations
- Inquiry-based instruction
- Project Based Learning
- STEM activities
- This Article by Richard Byrne gives some great STEM resources
- Teaching students the Design Thinking process naturally fosters critical thinking and problem solving
- Using the Webb Depth of Knowledge level 4
- This article is enlightening in regards to the DoK: What EXACTLY is Depth of Knowledge (Hint: it’s not a wheel!)
A final important piece to remember is to give students intentional time to reflect on their roles as critical thinkers and problem solvers. Through this reflection, they can identify goals for future growth and set personal next steps toward achieving those goals.