Wednesday, June 1, 2016

9 Resources to Address the Growing Need for Better Critical Thinking in All Readers

To say that there is significantly more media daily presented to the public than ever before would be an understatement. Since the year 2000, there has been an increase of 34 percent in the number of Americans who use the internet, resulting in a total of 84 percent of all Americans regularly logging on (as of 2015, the most recent year for data). Because of this widespread use of the worldwide web in recent years, reading the growing barrage of digital media can sometimes be overwhelming, particularly when attention, focus, comprehension and retention of that information is essential. Then, the prioritizing of that information for further evaluation can be especially daunting for challenged readers, as this step requires a higher level of mental effort, better known as critical thinking.

In addition, we all know how much access to instructional and troubleshooting information has now been transferred from personal interaction (i.e., via phone or in-person dialogue) and physical, printed text to the digital presentation of that same information. Now more than ever, an individual who needs instructions for assembly of a recently purchased product or directions for how to repair an issue with one's computer or other device, must digitally access those instructions via the internet, as a hard copy of the directions may no longer be provided with the product or the service. What's more, the instructions may only be visible for a limited period of time or only when visiting a particular web page.

Discerning which information is applicable or pertinent to a current question or issue is also most important. Skimming and scanning skills must be honed to make shorter work of the information actually needed or targeted. Key points must be read carefully and put into a sequence, especially when instructions are sought. (For visual learners, a physical listing of these key points on a piece of paper might even be advisable here.) Finally, the successful implementation or application of what has been read is hopefully then able to be achieved.

Increasingly here at Brennan Innovators, we are discovering that each of us in the office must be able to effectively research, navigate, and troubleshoot technological issues to a certain extent in order to enable all clients and customers to access our products and services without interruption or difficulty. This is required together wit all other duties and responsibilities.

In short, reading is required everywhere and in increasing amounts with the added component of discernment and evaluation. What we're talking about here is critical thinking and problem solving. For this reason, we are providing resources here to help challenged readers and others develop better critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Included here are links to articles for general information as well as resources with games, activities and more for this purpose. We hope at least one of these listed links will help someone you know to improve those much needed skills in our digitally-daunting, media-driven world today.

Resources to Help Improve Critical-Thinking & Problem-Solving Skills

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving---by Partnership for 21st Century Learning
General information and resources (includes Bloom's Taxonomy, lesson plans, other resources for the classroom, etc.) to help promote, encourage and further develop skills that involve critical thinking and problem solving.

35+ Critical-Thinking & Problem-Solving Resources---by J. M. Brennan
A growing collection of direct links (via Pinterest) to many different kinds of resources (for all ages) that promote critical-thinking and problem-solving skills development. Links listed provide games, puzzles, activities and more for this purpose.

Developing Critical Thinking Skills in Children---from Bright Horizons, Family Solutions
Information and tips for teaching critical thinking & problem solving

How You Can Help Children Solve Problems---by Ellen Booth Church, Scholastic (for Pre-K to Gr. 2)
Children are natural problem solvers, and early childhood settings offer countless opportunities for children to grow in their problem-solving abilities. These important experiences help children learn to value different kinds of thinking, think logically and creatively, and take an active role in their world. The tips in this article will be helpful for parents and teachers of young children.

Creativity/Problem Solving/Critical Thinking Lesson Plans and Resources
The sites listed here provide lesson plans and resources for promoting problem solving, creativity, and critical thinking. Click on a topic from the site index to find what you need. Resources include math problems, puzzles, word games, brainteasers and mystery hunts.

Critical Thinking---from The Critical Thinking Company
A sizable list of links to articles is provided here to help teach critical thinking skills to all kinds of learners (including individuals with autism and other special needs)

Critical Thinking for Children with Developmental Disorders: A Strategy that Works---from Upbility
Drawing on the vast range of definitions and techniques available for teaching critical thinking skills, the 3-cycle strategy presented here and developed by Upbility can be easily and flexibly used to address the particular needs of pre-school and primary school children with developmental disorders.

All Kinds of Brain-Training Exercises---for You & Your Child!
Resources for improving brain function both with specific, physical exercises and with other brain-building activities.

Engaging Critical Thinking Skills with Learners of the Special Populations---by Stacie Deyglio
A FREE 10-page printable that describes the importance of teaching all students to pose good questions and to learn how to make meaning from complex ideas. Through Socratic dialogue, project-based learning, and other methods designed to engage all students deeply in the learning process, this teacher helps all learners to be engaged. The author is a dual-certified educator in 7-12 adolescent education within the specialty areas of biology and students with disabilities.

Americans’ Internet Access: 2000-2015---by Andrew Perrin and Maeve Duggan
As internet use nears saturation for some groups, a look at patterns of adoption

For information on customizable tools to improve focus and attention at work, school or at home, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Brennan Innovators, LLC at

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