Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Timberdoodle Review - The Critical Thinking Company

Building Thinking Skills Level 3 & Editor in Chief
The Critical Thinking Company

Age: 12+ & 14+
Price: $29.99 & 18.99
I was thrilled when Timberdoodle asked me to review critical thinking books for them. Critical thinking is one of the areas I have always felt is lacking in today’s college aged students. My experience in the college classroom is that students are not used to being asked to think for themselves. Perhaps this is due to the prevalence of multiple-choice tests?

In any case, I want my kids to think critically. I hope you do too.

The first product I am reviewing is Building Thinking Skills Level 3 Figural by the Critical Thinking Company.

As noted on the Timberdoodle web site, the “activities are sequenced developmentally. Each skill (for example, classifying) is presented first in the semi-concrete figural-spatial form and then in the abstract verbal form. Children learn to analyze relationships between objects, between words, and between objects and words as they:

Observe, recognize, and describe characteristics.
Distinguish similarities and differences.
Identify and complete sequences, classifications, and analogies.

My boys really enjoy this book. They actually look forward to the time of day where we pull out our critical thinking to do exercises. Typically, we do between five and ten pages per day depending on how extensive the exercises are. You can view sample exercise pages here.

What I like is that they are being asked to be aware of what they are viewing and then look deeper to complete the exercise. At first, my younger son will tell me, “Mom, this is hard.” Then, shortly thereafter, a light bulb will come on and he’ll get busy working through the problem. The more he sees that he can take on the challenge and use his brain to discern the answer, the more excited he gets.

I would encourage all homeschool families to incorporate critical thinking skills into their schedule.
The second book I was asked to evaluate is Editor in Chief also by the Critical Thinking Company. I loved the concept of this book when I saw it. I teach English online and grade numerous papers every semester. There are common errors that students typically make. One way instructors try to help students develop editing skills it through peer feedback: students providing feedback on one another’s papers. This concept helps students see errors they make by finding them in other’s work. Sometimes it’s easier to find the errors when the content isn’t yours.

Editor in Chief is the same concept. Students are asked to edit papers with numerous errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization and formatting details. The student is told how many errors there are and then must go through the piece to find them. I find this to be excellent. The boys enjoy the hunt and end up helping one another if there are errors they just can’t seem to spot. In addition, the book provides great detail on where the errors are, what they are and how they should be corrected.

I believe this will help them not only improve their own editing skills, but to help them become better writers. They will be asked to peer edit when they get to college. Providing strong feedback is an asset to their peer, for their own benefit, and demonstrates to their instructors their ability to recognize strong writing.

I plan to continue to incorporate these exercises into our home school and to have the boys use those skills to peer edit each other’s work.

As you can see, I was very impressed with both texts. I’m grateful for being able to review the books and look forward to using other products by the Critical Thinking Company.

*** As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of these books in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE Timberdoodle!! They are developing a new review team? Cool!! Very cool!


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