Thinking Critically in an Upper Grade Elementary Classroom

Ya’ll, I’m just going to be honest here and say this is something I struggle with ALL.THE.TIME! I am always looking for ways to get my students to think critically and not only answer higher DOK level questions, but to actually be able to ask them.


Each day we have book shares in my classroom. This is where a student gets up in front of the classroom and shares a book they are reading or one they just finished. It’s a way to work on those Speaking and Listening standards while getting students to engage in conversation about the books they read. I love it and so do the students! They never let a day go by without reminding me (if I forget… which I do!).

It kind of became boring though…. the students just weren’t asking the questions I was wanting them to. I mean, how many times can we have the student rate the book? Rate it on scale of 1-5, 1-10, -5 – 5 (yes, that is actually a scale in my room). I also got tired of the same old question, “so, what was your favorite part?”


So, let me introduce you to these tubs that have been on their tables since day 1. They are packed with highlighters, pens, glue, scissors, Text Talker Speech Bubble flip cards, and DOK Question Stems as well as DOK Verb Lists. The students were using the supplies and Speech Bubble Flip Cards but weren’t really using the DOK cards like I wanted them to.


So, to solve the book share issue, if students want to ask a question, it has to be a DOK 2 or 3 question. I do allow my struggling students to use DOK 1. It has really worked and the students seem to enjoy it! Just when I think a student in the audience has thrown a curve ball at the speaker (difficult question), the speaker surprises their teacher by answering with some pretty impressive responses.I’m tell you, these are a great addition to any classroom, regardless of grade level. Would you like a copy? Check them out HERE. Don’t forget to download the Speech Bubble cards, too! You can get those here!


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Higher-Order, reading, Uncategorized
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