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Critical Thinking Lesson Plans - Four-Corners Debate

Adam Waxler

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In today's world it is even more important than ever for teachers to create critical thinking lesson plans that challenge students to think for themselves. One of my favorite critical thinking lesson plans is called the Four-Corners Debate. In this critical thinking activity, students organize their point of view on a particular controversial statement into one of four categories: strongly agree, slightly agree, slightly disagree, or strongly disagree.

Here are the steps:

1. Post signs in the corners of the classroom designating each corner into four categories (strongly agree, slightly agree, slightly disagree, strongly disagree. )

2. Present a controversial statement to the class based on the content of your unit. For example, after completing a unit on World War II, a teacher may make the following statement: President Truman was justified in using the atomic bomb to end World War II.

3. Provide students a few minutes to write down their position and explanation on a piece of paper. This will prevent students from simply following their friends during the next step.

4. Students then move to the corners that most closely correspond with their opinion.

5. Once students are in their corners, allow the groups time discuss their position and the reasons for their responses. Teachers may wish to assign roles prior to this step such as a note taker, discussion leader, time keeper, presenter etc.

6. At the end of the discussion time, have one student from each group present their group's position

7. While each group is presenting make sure to have students complete a graphic organizer or chart explaining each position.

8. Once all groups have shared, allow students to change their position by having each student write a final position statement that incorporates the points brought up in the Four-Corners Debate.

These types of critical thinking lesson plans not only address higher order thinking skills, but they are also easy to implement. Furthermore, these critical thinking lesson plans work as a great way to spark student motivation to learn.

For more critical thinking lesson plans and other teaching tips make sure to sign up for Adam Waxler's free newsletter, Teaching Tips Machine @


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