Tag Archives: critical thinking

Puppet Pals

Puppet Pals is an iDevice app that allows students to make puppet show videos.  The free version offers a limited number of characters and backdrops, but can still be fun.  For more options, you can pay $2.99 for the Director’s Pass, which you gives many more themes and backgrounds, including Talk Shows and Politics.  Once the videos are completed, they can be e-mailed (if short enough), uploaded to YouTube, played on your big screen if you don’t have the original iPad (but do have a connector), or saved to DropBox.  Be open to “workarounds” if your school district blocks YouTube and/or DropBox.

Below, I have embedded a video created by my 3rd grade Gifted and Talented students.  Their assignment was to create a video that explained the use of P.M.I. (Plus, Minus, Interesting), a CoRT thinking skill developed by Edward de Bono.  First, knowing the characters they would be using, they planned their show on a blank storyboard, then had to explain it to another group, revise it based on the other group’s suggestions, and get it approved by me.  Finally, they could record their video.  All groups were very engaged during this assignment.

The video shows President Obama trying to decide if there should be year-round schools.  No irony was intended by the students when they chose former President George W. Bush to be the one who gave President Obama advice on how to make this decision 😉


Socratic Questions

Socratic Questions, part of the website called Changing Minds, gives a brief summary of the origin of Socratic Questioning.  It then lists some fabulous question stems for encouraging deeper thinking from our students.  I would recommend printing this out, and keeping it nearby during classroom discussions.  In the frenetic pace of a typical school day, it can be difficult to spend time on critical thinking, but it really is essential for the learning of our students.

My Favorite Strategy/Problem-Solving Apps

I thought this might be a good time of year to summarize and emphasize some of the most valuable resources I have reviewed so far.  Today, I would like to offer my Favorite Strategy/Problem-Solving Apps:

#3:  Solitaire Chess Free – I reviewed this as a tangible game provided by www.mindware.com, but it is available as a free app as well.  This is a great way for children to learn how the chess pieces move, and to train themselves to think ahead.

#2:  Isle of Tune – You can play this for free on the web, or you can download the app for $2.99.  As it is a music app, you might question why I include this app in the Strategy/Problem-Solving category.  But, I think there is a lot of problem-solving involved in trying to figure out how to use the tools to compose your song.

#1 – Bubble Ball – This is the most requested app during Center Time or indoor recess in my classroom.  It is fun to stand near a small group of students who are playing this app as they discuss the strategies for getting the ball to the flag using the different tools provided at each level.  I still can’t believe this app is free, as it has provided endless engagement for my students at every grade level.  Another thing that I like about the app is that every level has several solutions.

Here are my original posts on each of these:  Solitaire Chess, Isle of Tune, and Bubble Ball.

Word Sort

Word Sort is one of the many “brain games” offered by Lumosity.  In this particular one, cards are revealed one at a time.  Each card has a word on it, and the player must determine whether or not the card “follows the rule”.  At first, the player has to randomly guess, but should soon see a pattern in the words that fall into the rule-following pile.  Once the player is able to correctly classify 6 words in a row, he or she is eligible for the next level.  This is a good game for practicing vocabulary and logical reasoning.  It would also be  a neat idea to extend it further for higher level students by asking them to create their own games with words from the curriculum.

Solitaire Chess Free

Solitaire Chess Free is a challenging app for iOS.  I also mentioned the boardgame that can be purchased at Mindware in my last post.  In both versions, the object of the one-player game is to capture all of the pieces on the board until there is only one left.  Every move has to result in a capture.  This is a nice way for kids to learn the appropriate moves for each of the chess pieces, and to practice thinking ahead.  There are increasing levels of difficulty, which means that students can quickly move to the level that best fits their needs.