Confidently teach your students to seek and love the truth wherever it is found.
People skilled in critical thinking are:

  • Problem solvers

  • Creative

  • Curious

  • Truth seekers

  • Reflective

  • Logical

Critical thinking usually begins by learning math and then learning logic.

What if your students don't like math? 

Or just aren't good at math?

If they're really struggling with learning math, then how can they develop the foundation to learn critical thinking skills?

How can they learn to think logically?

To think through the steps from observation to conclusion?

They read stories, and learned to analyze what they read by:

 

  • Developing their skills of observation

  • Strengthening their memory

  • Noticing patterns and changes

  • Putting events into a logical order

  • Verifying their ideas with the source

  • Taking ideas to their logical conclusions

  • Comparing what they discovered with additional sources

But what if your students don't like to read?

It's hard enough to get kids to actually READ!

Kids just want to watch videos.

How on earth are you supposed to get them to sit and read a book?

They just want to watch REALLY short videos on TikTok or Instagram!

But WHY are they watching those videos and clips?

​Because they are already entranced by stories!

 

When kids spend so much time:
 

  • Watching TikTok

  • Watching videos on Instagram

  • Sharing clips

  • Commenting on the clips

  • Sending texts

  • READING texts

It's because they're caught up in the stories! 

They already LOVE stories! ​​What stories are they engrossed in? 

 

  • Dogs falling asleep

  • Cats crashing down the stairs

  • The musician or band they like

  • People doing . . . anything!

 

 

Maybe the musicians are performing a song they like, but maybe they're just showing their behind-the-scene antics.

Either way, when the kids are:

  • Watching those video clips

  • Commenting on them

  • Sharing them

  • Watching something a friend shared with them

They feel like they're part of that story.

So since they already love stories, then WHY DON'T THEY WANT TO READ?

Maybe for the same reason that I didn't.  I LOVED reading stories, but not for school.

Here's what happened to me: 

The books we had to read in school were actually good books, but I didn't like reading them. It's not just because they were assigned, either. When we discussed them in class, or had quizzes on the reading, or had to write an essay about it, I learned something that my teachers didn't realize. 

I didn't have to read the book to get a good grade on my tests. 

YUP. IT'S TRUE! 

All I had to do was pay attention in class and take really good notes. 

Because I knew that if I wrote down what the teachers told us in class, that the answers on the tests were the same as the answers they gave us in class. 

There were set answers we were supposed to give for 

EVERY.  SINGLE.  ​ANSWER.

What I learned to do was to put stories into two different categories:

  1. Stories I liked and wanted to read

  2. Books and articles I had to read to get a good grade (and not flunk out)

It was the stories that I read on my own that I actually thought about, because I wanted to know 

  • How others could read or watch a story and see so much more in it than I could

  • How others could see the symbols and deeper meanings in the stories without having someone else tell them

Once I started learning how to discover the hidden depths in stories,

it was like an entirely new world opened up to me.

And the stories I read seemed to be so much BIGGER! Everything had a meaning because it was there for a purpose.

I had my own questions about the stories, about what happened and why that I could explore on my own. Even better, if I found someone else who had read the story, we could talk about that and I could learn more about why things happened, and what they meant. 

I was free to disagree or to say that I didn't see the same thing that others saw in the stories, but I also had to learn to back up my thoughts with evidence.

I could learn from others and they could learn from me in return just by reading the same story and talking about:

  • What I discovered

  • What I thought

  • What OTHER people discovered

  • What OTHER people thought

  • Whether or not I agreed with someone else

  • Whether or not someone else agreed with ME

But the biggest thing about it was that I learned that:

GOOD STORIES ARE NOT LECTURES

They're not boring either, because everything in a story is there for a reason

That means that there are deeper meanings in every story than you can see with just a quick read.

And I learned how to think through ideas to see where those ideas led, and whether or not I agreed with them. 

I also learned to see when authors were lecturing me instead of just telling me a story.

And then I learned that I could take the skills I learned by reading and thinking about stories, and apply those skills to everything else. Because learning how to think through an idea, to discover why characters act and behave the way they do meant that everything in the story happened for a reason. 

So when I applied that to other ideas, and to people in real life, I could see and understand so much more about why act like we do (there's always a reason!), and I could see more clearly that since an action has consequences, I could figure out possible reasons for the cause of the actions I could see. 

I learned the beginning stages of critical thinking

long before I studied logic in a formal way

And THAT is what I want to help you to do when you teach your students

THAT is why I created the lesson plans and printables

Teaching Critical Thinking with Stories

​Critical thinking is using reason to pursue the truth by:

  • Making distinctions between what is true, and what is not true

  • Considering the possible consequences of an action or an idea

  • Discovering the principles at the foundations of an idea

  • Developing your natural process of reasoning

​Critical thinking skills train your mind to:

  • Observe a situation or object

  • Analyze what you've observed

  • Arrive at a logical conclusion

  HOW DO YOU LEARN TO DO THAT WITH STORIES?  

Every story is written by a person, and that person wrote the story for a reason.

 

Every part of that story was included by the author for a reason. When you read a story, nothing in it is there by accident.

That means that every part of every story serves a purpose.

Stories start with a problem that needs to be solved, and by the end, the problem is resolved in some way.

Every part of the story is intended to bring you to the end, but how does the author do that?

 

And what is there along the way that leads you to the end?

 

The story has a series of events, interactions, and changes that

bring you to that resolution by the end.

What are they?

How do you spot them?

What else can you learn by thinking through each of those?

What other effects are there?

And where do you even begin to start to figure out any of that?

 

This is what I help you teach your students when you walk through the exercises in the lesson plans with them!

The series of exercises in these lesson plans aren't about identifying and naming parts of a story. They help you to guide your student in learning how to think more clearly by:

  1. Observing what happens in a story

  2. Analyzing what happens

  3. Discovering how the author shows you what is happening

  4. Learning how to explain the student's discovery

It’s also about how good authors tell their stories—authors are very careful about how they tell their stories, and how they use symbolism to allow the story to have a greater impact on us.

When we learn how to see all of that in a story, and contemplate it, we discover the deeper meanings within good stories, and identify shallow or simplistic stories.

Going through this process helps you to develop critical thinking skills. When you use these lesson plans, your students will learn to develop the ability to:

  • Make better observations

  • Make distinctions between truth and error

  • Consider the potential effects of ideas and actions

  • Arrive at conclusions based on evidence

  • Use their ability to reason to explain their ideas more clearly

How does reading stories help develop critical thinking skills?

Simply reading a story doesn’t do that. Developing critical thinking skills takes effort and guidance.

 

Too often, when people talk about teaching “critical thinking skills” they’re not teaching students how to think critically; instead, they’re teaching students how to engage with the feelings and emotions of others.

 

 That’s not critical thinking: that’s empathy 

 

Empathy is important in developing and maintaining relationships with other people, but it's not the same thing as critical thinking.

 

Instead, teach your students:

 

  • How to read stories

  • How to make distinctions between what is good and true, and what is not

  • How to discover the deeper meanings in stories

  • How to engage with the ideas in any story, and examine them

  • How to understand symbols that are used in stories

  • How stories "talk" to each other

 

All of this is part of what you’ll be helping your students learn with these exercises.