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20 Critical Thinking Questions For Elementary

50 Questions To Help Students Think About What They Think

contributed by Lisa Chesser

Using the right questions creates powerful, sometimes multiple answers and discussions. Aristotle said that he asked questions in response to other people’s views, while Socrates focused on disciplined questioning to get to the truth of the matter.

Ultimately questions spark imagination, conjure emotions, and create more questions. The questions asked by a teacher or professor are sometimes more glaringly valuable than the information transferred to the students. Those questions spark a thought, which leads to a fiercely independent search for information.

If students are the ones gathering that information then they’re the ones learning it and student-driven learning cements lessons into the students’ minds making any lesson more powerful with this strategy. Even though the following list of questions are broken into Mathematics, Literature and Science and Social Science, it’s really just a set of philosophically challenging questions that should be applied to any learning environment.

The questions are unrestricted and open the mind up to unfettered thought, perfect for innovation and understanding. The sections begin with Mathematical Questions because for the purpose of this list they’re the most general and therefore the most useful.

See also our 28 Critical Thinking Question Stems For Classroom Use ($4.50)

Logical Questions

Within the realm of mathematics, there are certain types of questions that build up to those aha moments or topple barriers.  Those are the questions that change a learner forever. They change a person because finally, the answers can only be found within.

The addition of philosophical questioning to mathematics enhances critical thinking in every learner. Basic principles of understanding help create solid ground, but questions build powerful architecture with which structures tower over one another.

Reflection & Collaboration

1. What do you think about what was said?

2. How would you agree or disagree with this?

3. Are there any other similar answers you can think of with alternative routes?

4. Does anyone in this class want to add something to the solution?

5. How might you convince us that your way is the best way?


6. How did you determine this to be true?

7. Why didn’t you consider a different route to the problem?

8. Why does that answer make sense to you?

9. (in response to an answer):…what if I said that’s not true?

10. Is there any way to show exactly what you mean by that?


11. Why do you think this works? Does it always? why?

12. How do you think this is true?

13. Show how you might prove that?

14. Why assume this?

15. How might you argue against this?


16. How might you show the differences and similarities?

17. What patterns might lead you to an alternative answer?

18. How many possibilities can you think of and why?

19. Predict any number of results?


20. How does this relate daily occurrences?

21. Which ideas make the most sense and why?

22. Which problems feel familiar? Why?

23. How does this relate to current events?

24. What kinds of examples make this problem workable?

25. What other problems fit this style or example?

Literary Questions

Buried in every story lives a student’s own life. Anyone can relate to at least one character or dive into at least one plot twist. But, the more foreign a story, the more important the questions should be.

Students may resist the idea that they can relate to certain characters depending on their ethnicity or economic background, but deep, concentrated questions show students the story really isn’t that foreign at all and also guide students to deeper meanings.

The following questions could be applied to any story, no matter how long or short, difficult or easy. Vary them and add to them depending on how the discussion flows.

26. How did any of the characters or events remind you of yourself? Why?

27. How did the character’s actions affect you? Explain.

28. If you were this character, how would the story change?

29. What surprised or confused you about the characters or events? Explain.

30. Why do you think the author wrote from this character’s view?

31. What do you think the author is trying to accomplish?

32. How is the author thinking about the world?

33. How would the story change from another character’s view?

34. Why do you think this story could actually happen, or not?

35. How can this story teach us something about our lives?

36. How do you think the characters resolved the major conflict in the story?

37. How would you have resolved it?

38. How would you change the end of the story and why?

Science and Social Questions

Within the idea of the Scientific Method, the hypothesis stands as the ultimate question. But, there are so many more questions a scientist must ask in order to answer that one question.

The challenging questions, however, make this a universal process streaming into other subject matter and delving into deeper waters. Here are some questions to sink into and use across curriculum as well as within science itself.

39. What’s the purpose for this experiment or argument?

40. Would you elaborate on the purpose of this?

41. What issues or problems do you see here?

42. What evidence or data are given that help make this worthwhile?

43. What are some of the complexities we should consider?

44. What concepts help organize this data, these experiences?

45. How can you justify this information?

46. How can we verify or test that data?

47. What details can you add to make this information feel more complete?

48. Which set of data or information is most relevant or important?

49. How is all of this consistent or inconsistent?

50. How am I seeing or viewing this information? Objectively or subjectively? Should I then change my view?

A former Publications Specialist at Florida International University where she also received a bachelor’s degree in English, Lisa Chesser left the publishing field to pursue a career in education. In her first three years of teaching Language Arts, she won an Excellence in Teaching Award for helping students achieve 50 percent learning gains. Because she’s also a writer, an editor, and an artist by trade, students often take more interest in their learning environment because she teaches them the value of it in the workplace; metacognition

This post was first published on openncolleges.edu.au; image attribution flickr user nationalassemblyforwales; 50 Questions To Help Students Think About What They Think

25 Of The Best Resources For Teaching Critical Thinking

by TeachThought Staff

The Stanford University Center for Professional Development recently developed a course of effective classroom in the classroom, and asked us to let you know about it.

This online course consists of three online sessions, three weeks in a row. Each session includes expert video screencasts, classroom video clips, readings and resources, and assignments that will prompt participants to strengthen the curricular foundations of communication the first month of school.

Session 1: Establishing a Classroom Culture of Conversation (August 2-8) – This session provides models and suggested activities for cultivating classrooms that value learning through constructive conversation.

Session 2: Creating Effective Conversation Prompts & Tasks (August 9-15) – This session focuses on how to look at a lesson, envision the conversational opportunities, and craft effective prompts for back and forth conversations between students.

Session 3: Preparing for Effective & Efficient Formative Assessment of Conversations (August 16-22) – The session prepares participants to (1) set up an assessment plan for assessing and reflecting on observations of paired student conversations, (2) provide right-now feedback to students during their conversations, and (3) reflect on conversation assessment to improve teaching and assessment.

See Also:10 Team-Building Games That Promote Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

As an organization, critical thinking is at the core of what we do, from essays and lists to models and teacher training. (You can check out What It Means To Think Critically for a wordier survey of the intent of critical thinking.)

For this post, we’ve gathered various critical thinking resources. As you’ll notice, conversation is a fundamental part of critical thinking, if for no other reason than the ability to identify a line of reasoning, analyze, evaluate, and respond to it accurately and thoughtfully is among the most common opportunities for critical thinking for students in every day life. Who is saying what? What’s valid and what’s not? How should I respond?

This collection includes resources for teaching critical thinking, from books and videos to graphics and models, rubrics and taxonomies to presentations and debate communities. Take a look, and let us know in the comments which you found the most–or least–useful.

25 Of The Best Resources For Teaching Critical Thinking

1. Course: Effective Conversation In The Classroom by Stanford University

2. A Collection Of Research On Critical Thinking by criticalthinking.org

3. The TeachThought Taxonomy for Understanding, a taxonomy of thinking tasks broken up into 6 categories, with 6 tasks per category

4. The Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Test (it’s not free, but you can check out some samples here)

5. It’s difficult to create a collection of critical thinking resources without talking about failures in thinking, so here’s A Logical Fallacies Primer in PowerPoint format.

6. 4 Strategies for Teaching With Bloom’s Taxonomy

7. An Intro To Critical Thinking, a 10-minute video from wireless philosophy that takes given premises, and walks the viewer through valid and erroneous conclusions

8. Why Questions Are More Important Than Answers by Terry Heick

9. A Printable Flip Chart For Critical Thinking Questions (probably easier to buy one for a few bucks, but there it is nonetheless)

11. A Collection Of Bloom’s Taxonomy Posters

12. 6 Facets of Understanding by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe

13. A 3D Model of Bloom’s Taxonomy

14. Helping Students Ask Better Questions

14. Examples Of Socratic Seminar-Style Questions (including stems) from changingminds.org

15. 20 Questions To Guide Inquiry-Based Learning, a 4-step process to guide learning through inquiry and thought

16. Socratic Seminar Guidelines by Grant Wiggins

17. How To Bring Socratic Seminars Into Your Classroom, a 7 minute video by the Teaching Channel

18. How To Teach With The Socratic Seminar Paideia Style, a PDF document by the Paideia that overviews

19. Using The QFT Model To Guide Inquiry & Thought

20. Create Debate, a website that hosts, well, debates

21. Intelligence Squared, Oxford-style debate hosted by NPR–and in podcast format, too

22. 60 Ways To Help Students Think For Themselvesby Terry Heick

23. A Rubric To Assess Critical Thinking (they have several free rubrics, but you have to register for a free account to gain access)

24. 25 Critical Thinking Apps For Extended Student Thought

25. Debate.org, another “debate” community that promotes topic-driven discussion and critical thought

And for something in the way of specific training for staff, there’s always Professional Development on Critical Thinking provided by TeachThought (full disclosure: we’re TeachThought).

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated us via payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will be good for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

25 Of The Best Resources For Teaching Critical Thinking

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