Helping students understand they can actually control the quality of their thinking is crucial for being successful in school and throughout life. When students understand what critical thinking is,  the value of the 9 Traits of Critical Thinking™ and how each trait can enhance thinking, they can become more alert to the traits within themselves and others. The previous posting in this blog series presented a brief overview about the 9 Traits of Critical Thinking™.  This post features the critical thinking trait adapt. 

I adjust my actions and strategies to accomplish tasks. 

As students acquire understanding of the trait adapt, they begin to display this behavior as they seek options and alternatives and show their willingness to approach problems in more than one way. During a group discussion, students consider or express the viewpoints given by others rather than thinking there is only one view. In math classrooms, students indicate there are more strategies to use to solve a problem rather than relying on a single approach. Students who apply the trait adapt brainstorm or search for many ideas rather than choose the first one that comes to mind.


What does the Adapt trait look like?

When students adapt, you can observe them generating several problem-solving strategies for a given situation. You might see them discovering multiple options for bringing resolution to a problem. Still other students might demonstrate this trait if they have to adapt to a new school, a new baby in the family, a divorce, or other changes in their lives. By providing students with scenarios where they have opportunities to practice flexible thinking, they can learn to cope with change or challenges as well as learn to shift or adjust their thinking in order to be successful when they apply the trait adapt. 


This image lists 5 real life scenarios for the adapt critical thinking trait.


Why is the Adapt trait important?

Being able to adapt is necessary in all walks of life no matter the age or circumstances. We may use the trait adapt when employees are absent, and a task must be accomplished even without those workers. We demonstrate the adapt trait in other ways, including when extra people show up for a meal than was planned but all must eat, when certain materials do not arrive as expected for an event but the event must move forward, a rip occurs in your clothing and there is no time to change, when the car won’t start yet you must be on time for a meeting.


What might the development of the Adapt trait look like?

One example of the Adapt trait in action might occur during a science lesson.  Following a short read-aloud of The Crow and the Pitcher fable, students might consider the scenario below:

When drought strikes an area, many types of birds are affected by the lack of water. Imagine that one of
these birds encountered the pitcher of water first and drank the water before the crow. How might each of these birds reach the water from the pitcher using their unique beak structures?
This is an image of four birds with different types of beaks.

In this example from Team ThinkUp! Level 4, students would apply their understanding of the Adapt critical thinking trait to challenge their flexible thinking and problem-solving skills to find a solution for each type of bird. This demonstration of critical thinking is to extend thinking beyond the text to search for several alternate solutions.


How can I help students develop the Adapt trait?

The following questions can be asked of students to facilitate focus and application of the trait adapt. Feel free to adjust the vocabulary to promote understanding among students.  

  • Are you willing to adapt how you work on tasks and make changes or consider ideas of others?  
  • Do you seek alternatives or options since more than one solution might be needed? 
  • What do you think are advantages for understanding how to use the adapt trait? 
  • How did the pigs in The Three Little Pigs utilize the trait adapt when the wolf came to visit? 
  • Can you think of other characters you have read about that had to adapt? 
  • What are examples that show how the trait adapt might be used in school, at home, in the workplace, or elsewhere in life? 

In the next blog post, we’ll explore a second trait  



This is an infographic listing the 9 Traits of Critical Thinking: Adapt, Strive, Create, Inquire, Examine, Communicate, Collaborate, Link and Reflect