What’s New

(C 1) Sample Creative And Critical Thinking Assessment Rubrics:

Ultimately, rubrics should be developed with students to foster a strong understanding/interest of expectations and achievement levels.  It is less than ideal to assess and evaluate students according to standards they don’t understand or unaware of, since the goal is not simply communicating a grade but helping the student to understand where they are and facilitate next steps.  These rubrics may inspire as a jumping off point for developing Creative And Critical Thinking Rubrics: See http://graduate.blogs.ccps.us/creative-thinking-rubric/

Critical Thinking Gr 3-5 Assessment Rubric: See https://my.pblworks.org/resource/document/3_5_critical_thinking_rubric_non_ccss


(B6) Debating with Oneself/Others: Devil’s Advocate

To say Darth Harley is on the Dark Side most importantly means he is more interested in Socratic Questions than building systems of answers.  The Devil’s Advocate used to be a traditional role in the Catholic church to see if there were problems with someone who was going to be made a Saint.  Today it usually means actively trying to disagree with something to see if it can withstand questioning/scrutiny.  Traditional school debating can help students develop their skills to ask questions and sniff out assumptions.  The important part isn’t just researching and presenting a side, since we can often come up with good cases for both sides (eg., liberal politics vs conservative politics), but more importantly learning how arguments are constructed and challenged so students can learn to have a critical rather than dog-matic approach.  Darth Harley barks at dog-mas!


(B4) Multiple Intelligences or Aptitudes

Teaching about secularism addresses a number of different areas, but especially “existential intelligence,” thinking about the Big Questions.

In Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983) and its sequels, Howard Gardner  proposed eight abilities that manifest multiple intelligences.

Musical-rhythmic and harmonic

This area of intelligence with sensitivity to the sounds, rhythms, and tones of music. People with musical intelligence normally have good pitch or might possess absolute pitch, and are able to sing, play musical instruments, and compose music. They have sensitivity to rhythm, pitch, meter, tone, melody or timbre.


This area deals with spatial judgment and the ability to visualize with the mind’s eye. Spatial ability is one of the three factors beneath g in the hierarchical model of intelligence.


People with high verbal-linguistic intelligence display a facility with words and languages. They are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories and memorizing words along with dates. Verbal ability is one of the most g-loaded abilities. This type of intelligence is measured with the Verbal IQ in WAIS-IV.


This area has to do with logic, abstractions, reasoning, numbers and critical thinking.[6] This also has to do with having the capacity to understand the underlying principles of some kind of causal system. Logical reasoning is closely linked to fluid intelligence and to general intelligence (q factor)


People who have high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence should be generally good at physical activities such as sports, dance and making things.

Gardner believes that careers that suit those with high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence include: athletes, dancers, musicians, actors, builders, police officers, and soldiers. Although these careers can be duplicated through virtual simulation, they will not produce the actual physical learning that is needed in this intelligence.


In theory, individuals who have high interpersonal intelligence are characterized by their sensitivity to others’ moods, feelings, temperaments, motivations, and their ability to cooperate to work as part of a group. According to Gardner in How Are Kids Smart: Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, “Inter- and Intra- personal intelligence is often misunderstood with being extroverted or liking other people…” Those with high interpersonal intelligence communicate effectively and empathize easily with others, and may be either leaders or followers. They often enjoy discussion and debate.”

Gardner believes that careers that suit those with high interpersonal intelligence include, politicians, managers, teachers, lecturers,  and social workers.


This area has to do with introspective and self-reflective capacities. This refers to having a deep understanding of the self; what one’s strengths or weaknesses are, what makes one unique, being able to predict one’s own reactions or emotions.


Not part of Gardner’s original seven, naturalistic intelligence was proposed by him in 1995. “If I were to rewrite Frames of Mind today, I would probably add an eighth intelligence – the intelligence of the naturalist. It seems to me that the individual who is readily able to recognize flora and fauna, to make other consequential distinctions in the natural world, and to use this ability productively (in hunting, in farming, in biological science) is exercising an important intelligence and one that is not adequately encompassed in the current list.” This area has to do with nurturing and relating information to one’s natural surroundings. Examples include classifying natural forms such as animal and plant species and rocks and mountain types. This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef.

This sort of ecological receptiveness is deeply rooted in a “sensitive, ethical, and holistic understanding” of the world and its complexities – including the role of humanity within the greater ecosphere.


Gardner did not want to commit to a spiritual intelligence, but suggested that an “existential” intelligence may be a useful construct, also proposed after the original eight in his 1999 book. The hypothesis of an existential intelligence has been further explored by educational researchers. It means thinking about The Big Questions (eg., do gods exist?)


BLUE“The Big Picture” & ManagingCAF (Consider All Factors); FIP (First Important Priorities)
WHITE“Facts & Information”Information
RED“Feelings & Emotions”Emotions and Ego
BLACK“Negative”PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting); Evaluation
GREEN“New Ideas”Concept Challenge; Yes, No, Po
Initial IdeasBlue, White, Green, Blue
Choosing between alternativesBlue, White, (Green), Yellow, Black, Red, Blue
Identifying SolutionsBlue, White, Black, Green, Blue
Quick FeedbackBlue, Black, Green, Blue
Strategic PlanningBlue, Yellow, Black, White, Blue, Green, Blue
Process ImprovementBlue, White, White (Other People’s Views), Yellow, Black, Green, Red, Blue
Solving ProblemsBlue, White, Green, Red, Yellow, Black, Green, Blue
Performance ReviewBlue, Red, White, Yellow, Black, Green, Blue


SCAMPER is an activity-based thinking process that can be performed by Cooperative Learning. Here the teacher assists the students in choosing a particular topic and helps them to develop it through a structured process. After choosing an idea, the students are given a tale where they perform the activity in steps corresponding to the letters in the name.

  • Substitute comes up with another topic that is equivalent to the present topics.
  • Combine adds information to the original topic.
  • Adjust identifies ways to construct the topic in a more flexible and adjusted material.
  • Modify, magnify, minify creatively changes the topic or makes a feature/idea bigger or smaller.
  • Put to other uses identifies the possible scenarios and situations where this topic can be used.
  • Eliminate removes ideas or elements from the topic that are not valuable.
  • Reverse, rearrange evolves a new concept from the original concept.

Hence, SCAMPER as a teaching strategy helps the students to analyze the knowledge in its creative form and helps the teacher to make teaching creative and interesting.

(see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCAMPER)



1 Knowledge

Knowledge involves recognizing or remembering facts, terms, basic concepts, or answers without necessarily understanding what they mean. Its characteristics may include:

  • Knowledge of specifics—terminology, specific facts
  • Knowledge of ways and means of dealing with specifics—conventions, trends and sequences, classifications and categories
  • Knowledge of the universals and abstractions in a field—principles and generalizations, theories and structures

Example: Name three common varieties of apple.


Comprehension involves demonstrating an understanding of facts and ideas by organizing, summarizing, translating, generalizing, giving descriptions, and stating the main ideas.

Example: Summarize the identifying characteristics of a Golden Delicious apple and a Granny Smith apple.


Application involves using acquired knowledge—solving problems in new situations by applying acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules. Learners should be able to use prior knowledge to solve problems, identify connections and relationships and how they apply in new situations.

Example: Would apples prevent scurvy, a disease caused by a deficiency in vitamin C?


Analysis involves examining and breaking information into component parts, determining how the parts relate to one another, identifying motives or causes, making inferences, and finding evidence to support generalizations. Its characteristics include:

  • Analysis of elements
  • Analysis of relationships
  • Analysis of organization

Example: Compare and contrast four ways of serving foods made with apples and examine which ones have the highest health benefits.


Synthesis involves building a structure or pattern from diverse elements; it also refers to the act of putting parts together to form a whole. Its characteristics include:

  • Production of a unique communication
  • Production of a plan, or proposed set of operations
  • Derivation of a set of abstract relations

Example: Convert an “unhealthy” recipe for apple pie to a “healthy” recipe by replacing your choice of ingredients. Argue for the health benefits of using the ingredients you chose versus the original ones.


Evaluation involves presenting and defending opinions by making judgments about information, the validity of ideas, or quality of work based on a set of criteria. Its characteristics include:

  • Judgments in terms of internal evidence
  • Judgments in terms of external criteria

Example: Which kinds of apples are best for baking a pie, and why?

(see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_taxonomy)


  • (A) Curriculum Connections

Consider the Ontario, Canada, diversity and pluralism in education directive (2009): http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/equity.pdf.   From the document it says:

  • Religion: By 2017, about one-fifth of our population will be
    members of diverse faith communities including Islam, Hinduism,
    Buddhism, and Judaism, in addition to a growing number of individuals without a religious affiliation (8)
  • Curriculum and Courses – Revised curriculum policy documents contain a section on antidiscrimination education that encourages teachers to recognize the diversity of students’ backgrounds, interests, and experiences, and to incorporate a variety of viewpoints and perspectives in learning activities. New courses are also being created that focus on gender studies, equity studies, and world cultures. (25)

This is important to emphasize, but what is currently lacking in many public schools are effective cross-curricular units outlining the core elements of the secular point of view that should be incrementally taught at each grade level along with the other pluralism/multicultural points of view.  Teachers lack the resources to properly teach the secular worldview. 

On this site you will find ideas and resources that are helpful in building multicultural/pluralism lesson plans. These lessons express and engage with the secular point of view, and “philosophy for kids/critical and creative thinking” generally.  So, consider some of these strategies for creative and critical student skill building.

(4) Darth Harley and His Mom

Harley sat with his mom one night and she read to him from one of her favorite books, “David Copperfield.”  The book was often too difficult for him, but he loved reading with his mom.  She read:

“I was sensible of a mist of love and beauty about Dora, but of nothing else … it was all Dora to me. The sun shone Dora, and the birds sang Dora. The south wind blew Dora, and the wild flowers in the hedges were all Doras, to a bud.  (Dickens, 2015, ch 33, Blissful).”  

His mother said to him: “You fell in Love with Wendy from the book Peter Pan because she was the first person to ever have the name Wendy and you thought she was going to fly into your room one night and take you away to Neverland.  How did the world show itself or appear to you then?

“Everything was alive and magical,” Harley said.

“Remember when you started taking allergy pills and you felt a little funny and the world seemed to have stronger colors than usual?  Now imagine how a really strong drug can change the way you feel and what you experience.”  His mom continues: “And Harley, when you have a headache or stomach ache, how does the world appear then? 

“Everything shows itself in an irritating way.  I want to go to my room and shut the world out.”

“Can you see why talking to someone as smart as Li’l Yoda about God is so fun and challenging?  Trying to suggest to people that it’s possible they are only experiencing a god-filled world, that it’s just a trick their mind is doing, is like trying to convince someone they aren’t seeing what they’re seeing!”

“Then it’s impossible,” Harley laughed.

“Not impossible, just difficult.  Certain kinds of doctors are very good at talking to confused people in such a way that they no longer believe they are being followed by strangers.  The strangers aren’t really following them, that’s just how they appear to the patient.  It’s a trick their mind is playing on them. People called “Deprogrammers” are good at getting people to stop believing things they once believed with all of their hearts.”

“Can doctors and deprogrammers use their skills to dispel religion?”

“They can and do, but many of the doctors are also believers in religion themselves.  Like I said, it’s a fun challenge.”

Harley thought for a bit and asked: “Mom, do you believe in God?”

“Most people seem to.  Many of them are far more intelligent than me, so maybe they’re right.  Let’s say for the sake of argument that I do, but am open to your questions … !  Spend time with Li’l Yoda, go back and forth with his ideas like Jedi dueling with light sabers. It’s great sport!”

Finally, his mom said as she wished him good night: “Harley, you are very special. You have been born with a tremendous special gift, a dis-Ability of not being able to remember very well. This may seem bad at first, but you will learn to use this gift, and in a world full of people lost in the details, you will be able to focus on the important information and see the forest despite the trees. The key to a wise and thoughtful life is to always sniff out when ideas don’t make sense and to question them – kind of like the main character in the picture book ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes.’ The great thinker Socrates said ‘I know that I know nothing. I am neither wise with their wisdom, nor foolish with their foolishness.’ “

“I sort of understand, Harley said – but not really.”

“I know,” his mother replied, “and I’m very proud of you because you recognize what you don’t know”