How to Teach Thinking Skills within the Common Core

By Goodman, Janie Riddle | Language Arts, March 2016 | Go to article overview

How to Teach Thinking Skills within the Common Core


Goodman, Janie Riddle, Language Arts


How to Teach Thinking Skills within the Common Core by James A. Bellanca, Robin J. Fogarty, and Brian M. Pete, Solution Tree Press, 2012, 221 pp., ISBN 9-781- 936- 764- 075

Bellanca, Fogarty, and Pete write, "In essence, we see this book as a funnel for not only the best practices for improving achievement and advancing students' 21st century skills, especially the core skill of critical thinking, but also the best practices of professional learning" (p. vi). Teachers who think of this book as a funnel will appreciate its value in transferring theories of learning into practical professional learning experiences that move easily into effective classroom practice.

In their introduction to the book, the authors speak directly to classroom teachers as they explain the genesis of the Common Core State Standards and why classroom instruction and curriculum must be improved if they are to align with identified 21st-century demands. They note that educators must explicitly help students develop complex thinking skills if those students are to become "productive problem solvers, sound decision makers, and creative innovators" (p. 3). To help classroom teachers across all grade levels and all content areas with instructional methodology and materials for teaching thinking skills, the authors have identified 21 of the most prominent complex cognitive skills within the Standards. Next, they have generalized these rigorous skills so all teachers, regardless of grade level or content area, will be able to focus instruction on specific Standards aligned to the needs of students. By approaching the cognitive demands of the Standards in this way, the authors of this book have empowered classroom teachers to "unpack the complex thinking skills inherent in the core standards" (p. 5), resulting in the strengthening of students' thinking skills and deeper comprehension of texts.

The authors have identified seven student proficiencies embedded in the standards: 1) critical thinking, 2) creative thinking, 3) complex thinking, 4) comprehensive thinking, 5) collaborative thinking, 6) communicative thinking, and 7) cognitive transfer. Each proficiency includes three essential thinking skills for explicit teaching in any grade level or any content area. For example, critical thinking includes the explicit skills of analyzing, evaluating, and problem solving. Creative thinking includes the skills of generating, associating, and hypothesizing. …

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