# Quick and Easy CCSS Thinking Strategies

In How to Teach Thinking Skills Within the Common Core, James Bellanca, Robin Fogarty and Brian Pete make a surprisingly simple argument: Integrating the Common Core State Standards into your classroom can be as easy as introducing students to a structured process for tackling the kinds of thinking skills that already play a major role in most social studies and science classrooms. Because the new standards ask students to compare and contrast, analyze, determine and evaluate again and again, emphasizing these skills in the classroom can help your students to make progress towards mastering the new curriculum.

In this portion of the workshop, we will (1). examine Bellanca, Fogarty & Pete's strategies for systematically teaching thinking skills, (2). practice applying one of Bellanca, Fogarty & Pete's strategies and (3). examine additional lessons that session presenter Bill Ferriter has developed based on Bellanca, Fogarty and Pete's work.

## Evaluating Samples of Student Evaluations

Sitting at the top of the cognitive skill set defined in Bloom's Taxonomy, evaluation -- or determining the value of an action, a product, a choice or an object -- has long been recognized as a higher-order thinking skill that needs to be integrated into classroom lessons on a daily basis. Today, it plays a prominent role in the Common Core State Standards (see here and here). Bellanca, Fogarty & Pete suggest that evaluating depends on our ability to **JUDGE**: **J**ustify essential criteria, **U**se evidence to weigh against the criteria, **D**ecide how well the criteria are met, **G**ather the sum total and **E**xpress a final judgment.

In this activity, students in session presenter Bill Ferriter's classroom used the JUDGE acronym to evaluate pizza box ovens that they created in science class. Explore their final products and determine whether or not the JUDGE acronym helped them to become more effective at evaluation.

**Student Handouts: **

http://bit.ly/CCSSEvaluating (doc)

http://bit.ly/CCSSEvaluatingPDF (pdf)

**Exemplars to Explore: **

http://bit.ly/CCSSEvaluatingExemplar2 (pdf)

http://bit.ly/CCSSEvaluatingExemplar3 (pdf)

## Additional Activities for Introducing CCSS Thinking Skills to Students

**Teaching Students about Comparing and Contrasting**

Handouts - Word Doc

Handouts - PDF

**Exemplars to Explore:**

http://bit.ly/CCSSCompareExemplar1

http://bit.ly/CCSSCompareExemplar2

http://bit.ly/CCSSCompareExemplar3

Spend any time exploring the Common Core State Standards for History-Social Studies or Science, and you'll quickly discover that students must learn to identify similarities and differences between competing points of view expressed by authors studying the same topic. This is an essential skill for literate consumers of information in fields where debates are common and where differing viewpoints are the norm instead of the exception. In this lesson, session presenter Bill Ferriter walks students through a process for comparing and contrasting recommended in Bellanca, Fogarty and Pete's text.

**Questions to Consider: **

- Have you taught your students about comparing and contrasting competing viewpoints in the past? What strategies have you found effective for teaching students to compare and contrast?
- Rate Bill's lesson on a scale of 1-5. How doable do you think it is? Is it something that you would consider using "as-is" in your classroom, or would this lesson need modifications? How would you change the handout to make it more approachable for your students?
- What debatable topics in your curriculum could serve as a good starting point for lessons on comparing and contrasting competing viewpoints?

**Teaching Students about Analyzing**

Handouts - Word Doc

Handouts - PDF

Analysis has long been a higher-order thinking skill emphasized in science and social studies classrooms. Defined by Bellanca, Fogarty and Pete as breaking an idea, an opinion, a question or an opportunity into parts in order to understand it completely, analysis plays a regular role in conversations about complex political, historical, environmental and scientific issues. Whether breaking down budget proposals put forth by Senate candidates or determining the effectiveness of a proposed solution to global warming, student historians and scientists must learn a structured process for analysis. This lesson -- developed by session presenter Bill Ferriter for use in a study of the value of space exploration -- introduces students to just such a process.

**Questions to Consider: **

- Have you taught your students a systematic process for analyzing complex issues in the past? What strategies have you found effective for teaching students to analyze?
- Rate Bill's lesson on a scale of 1-5. How doable do you think it is? Is it something that you would consider using "as-is" in your classroom, or would this lesson need modifications? How would you change the handout to make it more approachable for your students?
- What complex topics in your curriculum could serve as a good starting point for lessons on analysis?

**Teaching Students about Determining**

Handouts - Word Doc

Handouts - PDF

Handouts - Word Doc

Handouts - PDF

Exemplar - PDF

Bellanca, Fogarty and Pete define determining as the ability to make a careful decision based on clear and convincing evidence. To make effective determinations, students must learn to note key points worth considering, observe all of the available options and/or conclusions, think about the implications of each potential decision, and then express a personal choice. Like comparing and analyzing, determining is a skill that plays an important role in science and social studies classes.

Session presenter Bill Ferriter has used the two lessons above to give students chances to practice a process for making determinations. The first ask students to determine the best ways to build a solar oven out of a pizza box. The second asked students to determine the best ways to study for an upcoming vocabulary test. While these activities don't perfectly mirror the kinds of determinations the Common Core State Standards ask students to make (see here and here), Bill's goal is to teach students steps that they can take anytime they are asked to make a determination.

**Questions to Consider: **

- Have you taught your students a systematic process for making determinations before? What strategies have you found effective for teaching students to make determinations?
- Rate Bill's lesson on a scale of 1-5. How doable do you think it is? Is it something that you would consider using "as-is" in your classroom, or would this lesson need modifications? How would you change the handout to make it more approachable for your students?
- Does it bother you that Bill's lessons don't ask students to practice the kinds of determinations emphasized in the CCSS? Could you tailor his lessons so that they DO focus on the kinds of determinations emphasized in the CCSS? What would those lessons look like?

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