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K-12 Instruction

Note: The Foundation for Critical Thinking now offers customized webinars and six-week customized online courses, all tailored to your institution's needs and goals!  Read More Here

The Center for Critical Thinking Mentor Program

General Information


Our Team of Presenters

Long-Term Professional Development

Plan Six: 2-day Workshops Over A Three Year Period
Or Develop a Plan Workshop-by-Workshop

Critical thinking is not an isolated goal unrelated to other important goals in education. Rather, it is a seminal goal which, done well, facilitates the development of higher order thinking skills that cross disciplines and contexts. It is best conceived, therefore, as the hub around which all other educational ends cluster. For example, as students learn to think more critically, they become more proficient at historical, scientific, and mathematical thinking. They develop skills, abilities, and values critical to success in everyday life. All of this assumes, of course, that those who teach have a solid grounding in critical thinking and in the teaching strategies essential to it.

But to develop a deep understanding of the foundations of critical thinking involves a long-term approach to learning and applying those foundations. James Stigler, coauthor of the book, The Teaching Gap: Best Ideas from the World’s Teachers for Improving Education in the Classroom, comments on the importance of long term staff development. He says, “professional development . . . should be long term. It should be ongoing – part of a faculty’s workweek, not something tacked on. And it should be curriculum based…so that it helps faculty help their students master the curriculum at a higher level.” Stigler goes on to say “professional development has been largely divorced from practice . . . It has been haphazard . . . (involving) idiosyncratic kinds of professional development . . . not only do we need to implement high-quality programs, but we also need to give faculty the opportunity to learn how to participate in these programs. That’s going to take time.”

We agree. It is clear that there is no way to bring critical thinking successfully into instruction across the curriculum with a stand-alone one or two-day workshop. At best, a one or two-day workshop can do three things: 1) function to heighten the awareness of faculty to the challenge of bringing critical thinking substantively into instruction, 2) provide some strategies for up-grading the effectiveness of instruction, and 3) lay a foundation for follow-up workshops.

But a long-term approach to critical thinking professional development enables faculty to internalize and apply the fundamentals of critical thinking at a deep level. Through a long-term approach, faculty can restructure their courses so that students develop as inquisitive and disciplined thinkers and questioning minds. Its success depends on a number of variables. One develops as a critical thinker in a way similar to the way in which one learns to perform well in basketball, ballet, or on the piano. First of all, one must understand the basic principles. Secondly, one must regularly engage in self-monitored, self-evaluative practice (putting the principles to work in practice) progressively up-grading one’s understanding and skill thereby.

Faculty in a long range professional development program come to recognize explicitly that critical thinking is not just one of many divergent educational aims, but is rather a way of teaching and learning at a high level of effectiveness. They learn to use all other reform trends as a support for a high level of thinking in both the teaching and learning process. Commitment to critical thinking affects how one thinks through the design of instruction and how one thinks through the content one is learning. In short, over time instructors come to recognize that teaching in a critical manner is essential for:

  • skilled reading, writing, speaking, and listening

  • skilled reasoning within all subject areas

  • skilled decision-making and problem-solving

  • skilled analysis and evaluation of one’s emotions and values

  • intelligent choices in human relationships

  • skilled civic and personal choices, etc . . .

For specific professional development guidelines, see A Professional Development Model for K-12 Schools: Critical Thinking as the Key to Substantive Learning.

Content-Driven and Question-Driven Instruction

Faculty in a long-term staff development program learn how to design content-driven instruction; that is, how to take what students are expected to know and be able to do and design instruction that empowers the students to think their way to this knowledge and ability. They learn how to make every class day question-driven and how to layer a variety of content standards into a unified unit of instruction.

Thinker’s Guides Help Build Faculty Knowledge Base

A long-range staff development program can be enhanced by the use of our Thinker’s Guide Library. These guides enable faculty to work together or individually to develop over an extended period of time. They help build the faculty knowledge base of critical thinking and instructional strategies. They demonstrate the practicality and comprehensiveness of the approach we recommend.

In planning staff development, you should begin with a session that lays the foundation for improvement in class instruction and for follow-up workshops. We introduce faculty to the basic components of critical thinking and ways to build those components into the design of what faculty teach, as well as ways to make that design effective. We help faculty design instruction, in the long run, so that students understand content as a system of logical relationships that can only be understood through active, inquisitive thinking.

Workshop Strands

We suggest that you follow-up the initial foundational workshop
with a combination from the following
workshop strands:

Foundational Workshop: An Introduction to the Fundamentals of Critical Thinking & the Art of Instruction

Critical Thinking and the Process of Assessment

Critical Thinking and Socratic Questioning

Critical Thinking and Writing

Critical Thinking, Socratic Questioning and Assessment

Critical Thinking & the Health Care Professions

Critical Thinking in Social Studies

Critical Thinking in the Arts & Humanities

Critical Thinking in Science & Math

Critical Thinking in the Professions

Teaching Students to Think Theoretically & Empirically

Teaching Students To Ask Good Questions & Follow Out the Implications of Thought

Teaching Students Intellectual Standards & Values

Teaching Students to Enter, Analyze, and Evaluate Points of View

Teaching for Emotional Intelligence

Questioning Students and Teaching Students to Question

Critical Thinking and the Affective Dimension: Fostering Rational Motivation in Students

Analytic Reading and Writing as Modes of Thinking

Ethics Without Indoctrination: Moral Reasoning Across the Curriculum

Critical Thinking: The Role of Administration

Our Team of Presenters

Professional Development workshop costs vary depending on the presenter, number of days, and distance the presenter must travel.

For brief bios on our presenters, please click on the link below.  
Critical Thinking Presenters

For honorarium and availability for each presenter, please call our office or email Ms. Lisa Sabend at 

Please visit our professional development pages for more information about our program:  K-12; Higher Education; Business.

Number of Days

Professional development workshops can be scheduled for any number of days depending on purpose and need. We highly recommend that the initial inservice be at least two days and part of a long-term staff development program. In our experience faculty are far more successful at restructuring their coursework to teach for critical thinking when they participate in a long-term inservice program.


Phone Ms. Lisa Sabend at 1-800-833-3645, or email to discuss our professional development programs, availability of dates and speakers, and honoraria. Please indicate whether you would like to discuss workshop design and content with one of our Fellows.

Times: 8:45-12:00 & 1:00-4:00 each day 
Audience Size: Minimum: 10 Maximum: 500
Target Audience: instructors and administrators
Prerequisite: A willingness to modify one's teaching practices, hence a willingness to establish new teaching habits. In most cases each teacher brings some of his or her own lessons or units to be used in practicing lesson remodeling.

Media and Room Set-Up: Tables that seat 4-6 people, overhead projector with large screen, blank transparencies and pens, lighting that does not obscure the overhead, warm and friendly environment. Arrange tables in a semi-circle around the presenter, keeping each table as close to the presenter as practical.


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