Reflection: Lesson Planning Critical Thinking: "Tulipmania" - Section 2: First Read: Key Ideas and Details


Today's passage comes from Walter Pauk's book, Six-Way Paragraphs: 100 Passages for Developing Six Essential Categories of Comprehension.  Pauk's series is designed to help students develop critical thinking skills by looking at six different types of questions--main idea, subject matter, supporting details, conclusions, clarifying devices, and vocabulary in context. His series uses multiple choice questions. 


This lesson was originally going to be a "read the passage, answer the questions, discuss the answer" thing.  Someone asked me why I was using multiple choice questions when I could use open ended questions or close reading.  At first, I didn't like or appreciate the idea. I wasn't comfortable with the idea of nonfiction and close reading.  I was immediately comfortable with fiction and close reading, but nonfiction?  Uh.  After some difficult, uncomfortable, thinking, I decided to modify the lesson by taking Pauk's questions and revised them to be open-ended.

Original Question:

  1. The author of this passage refers to the 1929 stock market crash in order to
    1. make the tulip story more modern.
    2. point out its similarity to the fall of the tulip market.
    3. show that people from every country are greedy.
    4. emphasize the value of good investments.


 Revised Question:

  1. Why does the author refer to the 1929 stock market crash?


Simple.  Yay!  Lesson revised! I'm done!




I was again reminded of close reading.  I was given the suggestion of having a set of standard questions that could be used for any passage.   Uh.  I looked at the standards and had an epiphany.   The  reading standards are broken up in to three very distinct categories--key ideas and details, craft and structure, and integration of knowledge and ideas.  I chose to ignore the fourth category, which just says that students need to read a wide range of complex texts.


I used those three categories to write questions that could be used for any nonfiction passage.


  1. Key Ideas and Details: What is the author telling me?  What does the author want me to understand?  What are the author's main ideas and supporting details?
  2. Craft and Structure: How does the author organize his/her thoughts?  How does the author use words, especially difficult, important, or repeated words?
  3. Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Are the authors claims and evidence logical, relevant, and sufficient?  


The language for these questions comes directly from the standards. Go look at the standards.  Look at the questions.  I can wait.  


This is the point where I got giddy and flailed around because I was so excited.  By using language from the standards to write the questions, the questions are embedded in the standards, which of course, is good.  It takes a step out of lesson planning, because now I don't have to go back to the standards to check to see if my questions are aligned to the standards because I used the standards to write the questions.


Transitioning to the common core standards means confronting what you've done and why  you've done it.  It's hard.  It's cognitively and emotionally demanding.  But my students are worth it, as I'm sure your students are.  See the next reflection to see how I changed this lesson even more. 

  Quickwrite Questions Based on Standards
  Lesson Planning: Quickwrite Questions Based on Standards
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Critical Thinking: "Tulipmania"

Unit 5: Developing Critical Thinking with Shared Inquiry and Socratic Circles
Lesson 1 of 9

Objective: Students will be able to develop critical thinking skills by reading a passage about the history of tulips and answering types of critical thinking questions, citing evidence for their answers, and discussing answers with a small group.

Big Idea: Develop critical thinking skills through independent reading and authentic student discourse through six powerful types of questions.

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tulip from gail frederick
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