I recently asked my students to reflect on our first unit of study and present their reflections to me. They needed to identify and explain what they learned using the Foundation for Critical Thinking’s “Elements of Thought”…

image credit: http://edtosavetheworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/5549b-thinkingwheel.png

…and then evaluate their understanding using the Foundation’s “Intellectual Standards.”

image credit: https://www.criticalthinking.org

Then they assigned themselves a grade for the unit using a grading profile that defined the criteria they had to meet to earn an “A” or “B,” etc. Then they used presentation apps such as “SlideIdea” and “Explain Everything” to develop and narrate presentations about how clear, accurate, deep their understanding of the unit was and defend their chosen grade. They created and included mind maps using “Noteability” to show how the concepts, information, questions, and points of view of the unit related to one another.

As they worked on their portfolios, several students came to the same question:

“This logic wheel is pretty useful. Why isn’t there an app for that?”

Part of me laughed, and replied that critical thinking is an “app” your brain should be applying all the time. And that once you learned the structure, you could use the elements of thought (logic wheel) and intellectual standards without the aid of technology anytime and anywhere.

But then I stepped back to question myself. In an increasingly technology-drive world, why hasn’t anyone developed an app out of these tools? It might not be necessary, but to young people who do much of their thinking via technology, it might make these structures more engaging, accessible, and helpful. Maybe my students’ next project will involve designing their own.

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