26 Critical Thinking Tools Aligned With Bloom’s Taxonomy

by | Jan 3, 2017

Fostering critical thinking skills is always a challenge in teaching. Educators still honor Bloom’s Taxonomy as the basis of learning. With that giving way to its revised and updated interpretations, we now have critical thinking tools that can help in all of the key components of developing such skills.

In a nutshell, learning encompasses a series of specific tasks, sometimes in order, but most often not.

The elements are there and online tech tools can help today’s digital students to navigate through the elements collaboratively. In Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, Andrew Churches outlines critical thinking skills through the lens of Digital Natives. The levels of this taxonomy are:

  • Remembering
  • Understanding
  • Applying
  • Analyzing
  • Evaluating
  • Creating
Bloom's_Digital_Taxonomy

source: edorigami

The challenge is to go from traditional uses of the taxonomy to best digital practices—that is, as a Global Digital Learner. We’ll list the components of Digital Taxonomy and then look at critical thinking tools for students of the digital age to develop their skills with.

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Critical Thinking Tools That Help Learners Remember

Remembering is: Recognizing, Listing, Describing, Identifying, Retrieving, Naming, Locating/Finding

In the tech world, this looks like: Bullet-Pointing, Highlighting, Bookmarking, Social Networking, Social Bookmarking, Favouriting/Local Bookmarking, Searching, Googling

Tools to Try: YouTube and other “flipped learning” video sites that allow teachers to create and post their lectures online are great ways to reach learners when they’re most comfortable, and when they have time. With Remembering skills being practiced before class, your meeting time with students is reserved for higher-order thinking skills. Here’s more on flipped learning from Jon Bergmann.

Any tool that can help you create great flipped lectures belongs in this list. There’s PowToon, EdTED, and Clarisketch as other great examples.

Delicious allows for students to search the web and share their finds in a repository of bookmarks, like hunting and gathering information for the community to share and discuss. Think of taking the Internet and its vast store of information and highlighting it, like we used to highlight important stuff in our old paper textbooks.

Critical Thinking Tools That Help Learners Understand

Understanding is: Interpreting, Exemplifying, Summarizing, Inferring, Paraphrasing, Classifying, Comparing, Explaining

In the tech world, this looks like: Advanced Searches, Boolean Searches, Blog JournallingTweeting, Categorizing And Tagging, Commenting, Annotating, Subscribing

Tools to Try: Mindmaps! Tools like Mindmaple and MindNode stand out among some of the best mind mapping tools available on the Web. If you want to explore more, check out this article on Lifehacker for their take on the best 5 tools for creating mindmaps.

Students can also get answers to their questions by making use of simple tools like forums, or by conducting Skype interviews.

Critical Thinking Tools That Help Learners Apply

Applying is: Implementing, Carrying Out, Using, Executing, Doing

In the tech world, this looks like: Running, Loading, Playing, Operating, Hacking, Uploading, Sharing, Editing, Wiki Editing

Tools to Try: Website/blogging tools like Weebly and Edublogs are the resources you need to do this. For more suggestions, download the second book in our free tools for teachers ebook series, called Tools for Teachers: Writing, Blogging, and Websites.

The best tools here are ones that help you plan a course of action for application. Gantt charts can give you an idea of a timeline for progression and completion. Never built one before? This article on Smartsheet has got you covered.

You may also want to dabble in organized task management applications. For this kind of process, great tools like Basecamp and Asana can help you get the job done.

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Critical Thinking Tools That Help Learners Analyze

Analyzing is: Comparing, Organising, Deconstructing, Attributing, Outlining, Structuring, Integrating

In the tech world, this looks like: Mashing, Linking, Reverse-Engineering, Cracking, Mind-Mapping, Validating, Calculating

Tools to Try: The tools for Apply are the same kinds of applications that work well for this stage of the Taxonomy.

Critical Thinking Tools That Help Learners Evaluate

Evaluating is: Checking, Hypothesizing  Critiquing, Experimenting, Judging, Testing, Detecting, Monitoring

In the tech World, this looks like: Blog/Vlog Commenting, Reviewing, Posting, Moderating, Collaborating, Networking, Reflecting, Alpha/Beta Testing

Tools to Try: The key difference between Analyzing and Evaluating is collaboraion. What’s useful is putting your product out there for critique and beta testing.

For evaluating information, tools like Snopes and FactCheck.org are worth looking at. As you use these tools, remember to to “balance check” various news sources and information resources for patterns and connected ideas.

Critical Thinking Tools That Help Learners Create

Creating is: Designing, Constructing, Planning, Producing, Inventing, Devising, Making, Building

In the tech world, this looks like: Programming, Filming, animating, Blogging, Video Blogging, Mixing, Remixing, Wiki-ing, Publishing, Videocasting, Podcasting, Directing/Producing

Tools to Try: Students can build digital portfolios using Google Sites, Evernote, and VoiceThread. If they’re into podcasting, get them on Audacity or Podbean.

Blogging tools include the ones mentioned in Apply, along with WixWordPress, and Ghost. Video tools to look at are ones such as Jahshaka, WeVideo, or Magisto. You can find more great tools in our ebook Tools for Teachers: Media Development.

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With so many different project ideas out there as well as apps to foster critical thinking skills, it’s easy to get caught up in taking too much time to find the right tool. Hopefully, this article will help that process go smoother.

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