At-risk children often experience the world in relatively black and white categories. Individuals are either right or wrong, good or bad. Shades of gray, along with the exceptions that create such variation, are not part of their reality. Accompanying this perception is a tendency to act reflexively as opposed to reflectively; in the same way that a few letters can make a difference in the meaning of a word, so too can a few seconds of reflection make a difference in our decisions. At Risk-Eraser, we believe that all children can develop skills to think critically, not only perceiving shades of gray, but understanding why they are important in terms of our treatment of others and the actions we choose. We also believe, based on several years of experience teaching, that children will only learn these skills, and apply them in their education and beyond, if they are engaged by material that is interesting and relevant. Risk-Eraser's critical thinking curriculum is designed to help students think, and to help teachers teach the relevant skills.
a novel & fun approach to critical thinking
Engaging young minds
It is an important ability to critically read a text, whether it is a Shakespearean play, scientific paper, or historical treatise. But this is not the way to initiate the process of engaging students in critical thinking. Risk-Eraser's curriculum starts with material that is fun and of interest to students of all ages: games, music, perceptual illusions, moral dilemmas, court cases, and desirable shoes, technology and food. Our critical thinking curriculum has been designed and road-tested for students in middle-to-high school. We provide teachers with both lesson plans and links to essential resources, including instructions for games, video clips, and readings. Our lessons focus on key topics that are relevant to every student's life, including:
With this material, all students engage. With this material, students develop critical thinking skills that enable them to see shades of gray, to find errors in reasoning, and to generate appropriate conclusions. With this material, students move from reflexive to reflective, whether they are contemplating plots of fiction, scientific results, mathematical theorems, historical events, or how to navigate the complexities of their social life.
Risk-Eraser believes that all teachers have the ability to engage students in critical thinking, and to do so across the curriculum. Whether you are teaching English Literature, History, Math, Science or an elective such as Art or Music, it is possible to sharpen students' capacities to pick out assumptions, understanding the limits of their conclusions, and generate ideas for how to grasp a deeper understanding of a problem. Risk-Eraser has developed an evaluative rubric that can be used to help teachers shape their lessons into materials that foster critical thinking. The rubric starts with an online survey that is used to assess how well teachers use the critical ingredients of critical thinking. Once filled out, this survey generates a summary report that can be used to foster change, and thus, to fine-tune methods for actively engaging students in critical thinking. Risk-Eraser helps educators both use this survey and interpret its outcome report, while also providing examples of methods that promote such skills.
Below, an example of a report generated from the survey. This material is ideally used to foster a conversation between teachers and evaluators, and to advance best practices for engaging children in critical thinking.
Risk-Eraser will provide your program with both the teacher's manual for the Think It! curriculum, as well as the survey and charting material for the teacher evaluation. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org