Phl/458 Creative Minds And Critical Thinking Accnerd

My name is Hillary Kiser, and I have been teaching for seven years now. Rachel was so sweet to allow me to be a guest on her blog and talk about Creative and Critical Thinking. Thank you, Rachel! I hope you all enjoy this post and learn a few things about incorporating creative and critical thinking in your classroom!

Teaching children to think sounds easy…but really, how do you teach a child to think? Aren’t they born knowing how to form thoughts? Well, having the ability to think is something we are born with, but being able to think in such a way that you absorb information and learn from it is a very different thing!

Thinking While Reading

Some students have been taught from a young age how to “think while reading,” others have not been taught this skill. In our classroom we encourage thinking while reading anything. One thing we love to use is the Scholastic order forms to help push our thinking.

I love this activity because the order forms are free, and I always receive a ton of them. I pass them out about twice a month, and the students use this form to do some creative and critical thinking about the different types of books they are discussing.

I also encourage my students to do critical thinking while they are reading in book clubs or just for leisurely reading. We use bookmarks to guide our thinking daily during reading. Then students respond weekly in their journals to me about what they are reading. The response is derived from the questions on the bookmarks. Win win!



By encouraging this type of thinking every day, it is not only improving their reading skills but also improving their thinking in other subjects. The students are learning how to stay focused and think while reading math problems, science passages or experiments, or anything else that may come their way.


Peer Thinking

Letting your peer think for you? Sounds great! Ha! Peer thinking isn’t exactly how it sounds. When we use peer thinking, we are relying on our peers to help us come to a deeper connection with the story, activity, or problem. When students team up to work on activities, they become more creative and think on a deeper level. I believe it is because the students feel more confident, but whatever the reason, it works!


Classroom management is important here, though, so I encourage you to come up with a plan that works for your kids. I use timers, a bell, and constant student monitoring to make sure they are on topic, but the kids love it!


We gather together to do hands-on activities (which also helps with creative thinking!). Interactive journals and task cards are exciting in our room! Here are a few snapshots of my kids working on point of view task cards and interactive journals! The interactive journals guide the students’ thinking and allow them to have more confidence in their discussions.




When we work on the task cards, I make sure that all of the students are “pulling their weight.” I want all students participating, or I do not feel like good critical thinking is happening! It is a beautiful sight when all people get involved in the discussion (or sometimes a debate when they feel very passionately about something!) 🙂


Assessing Outside of the Box

Lastly, we love to use fun assessments in our classrooms. I am not a testing machine; actually, I hate assessments…but I do know they are necessary for understanding student success. I have learned that I can assess in my own way, though. Sometimes the assessments are traditional-looking (still showing critical thinking, though), and sometimes they are in a completely different form. This year I have fallen in love with exit tickets. They are quick, can hit multiple skills, creative, and above all…the questions on the exit tickets show some wonderful critical thinking! I can also get four on one sheet of paper! Can you say, “Save the trees?” I love it!


Here is an example of how this looks in my classroom. I usually give two or three at a time. I know that is not traditionally how exit tickets work, but I love having a different variety of questioning!


My students get very excited when they see exit tickets, and they know they will be learning and practicing a valuable skill.


Now, creative and critical thinking can be done in so many ways. I could have written many, many posts over this one, but hopefully this will give you some ideas on how these strategies work in my classroom!


I have taught in 3rd and 5th grades and love encouraging kids to think outside the box. Children so badly need to learn how to think in a creative way and in a way that helps encourage deeper thinking. We (their teachers) are the best resource they have for learning these valuable skills!
Hillary Kiser teaches 5th grade in Texas. She has taught for seven years and each year learns more about being an effective teacher! She loves collaborating with her team, creating resources, and spending time with her family!  Visit her on her blog, Facebook, Instagram, and TPT store.

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