Five Critical Thinking Strategies for ELL and Special Needs Students

August 19, 2013

Within weeks, teachers all over the country will encounter a fresh crop of faces in their classrooms – along with a wide variety of backgrounds, skill sets, and learning styles. Some students will jump into the work while others will struggle, either because of learning disabilities, lack of English language ability, or other challenges.

For these students, it may be tempting to focus on basics to get them up to speed. However, higher-level critical thinking tasks may be just what they need.

Why Critical Thinking Helps Students of All Levels

Although building critical thinking skills is a requirement of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), it’s also an essential way to increase student engagement.

For example, imagine a lesson about the environment, where students are expected to read and summarize a passage. Then imagine the same lesson, but this time after reading the passage, students write a letter to the mayor of their city to explain the importance of conservation.

Which sounds more engaging?

The second example employs higher-level thinking –and it’s also far more interesting.

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