Tic-Tac-Toe: An Activity to Build Critical Thinking

Alright, so it’s not exactly tic-tac-toe. I suppose when you play that game, you alternate with a partner, but nonetheless, it is a fun activity to get students to use critical thinking, and hey, you do pick three in a row!

Teach your students to use critical thinking with this activity that is guaranteed to use higher order thinking (HOTS). And BONUS: this strategy is perfect for any elementary content area too!

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you know that I’m HUGE into getting my students to think, think, think. Not only that, I love to get students to notice relationships. (See my Forced Analogies Post here.)  So when I heard about this idea, I just had to try it!

In this activity, you would place 9 pictures on your board in a tic-tac-toe type board. For my example, we were studying changes to the Earth — slow and fast changes that can be both constructive and destructive. So I placed several pictures in my 9 block related to this. As you can see my picture below, I had earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, deposition, a mountain, weathering, and a volcano.

Teach your students to use critical thinking with this activity that is guaranteed to use higher order thinking (HOTS). And BONUS: this strategy is perfect for any elementary content area too!

Students then had 5 to 10 minutes (depending on how it’s going) to look at the pictures on the board (or doc cam) to see if they can find any relationships between the pictures, but it has to be three in a row. After this critical thinking time, I have them pair up and discuss what relationships they think they had noticed. So, for instance, in this set here, students may have noticed that the cracked road (earthquake), the mountain, and the volcano are all things that could result from earthquakes, and from earthquakes can be created. Therefore, earthquakes create mountains, volcanoes create islands and mountains.

Teach your students to use critical thinking with this activity that is guaranteed to use higher order thinking (HOTS). And BONUS: this strategy is perfect for any elementary content area too!

Students may also say that the relationship between the cracked road (earthquake), landslide, and tsunami can be resulted from earthquakes, and are destructive in nature (the second example.)

Depending on how you created the nine blocks, you could then rearrange the nine pictures right on the doc cam or if taped to the board, then rearrange them there. Then you could ask again what relationships they may see. This activity could easily be a good way to generate interest in a new topic or to evaluate their understanding. They may even think of relationships you hadn’t noticed. That’s some critical thinking!

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