Critical Thinking

26 Sentence Stems For Higher-Level Conversation In The Classroom

26 Sentence Stems For Higher-Level Conversation In The Classroom

by Terry Heick

Note: You can purchase a similar, classroom-ready version of these stems on printable cards, if you find that useful.

Meaningful conversation can make learning more personal, immediate, and emotional.

During meaningful conversations, students are forced to be accountable for their positions, to listen, to analyze opposing perspectives, and to adapt their thinking on the fly.

There are many popular strategies for these kinds of conversations, each with slightly unique rules and applications. Among them are Socrative Discussions, Accountable Talks, Debate, and Literature Circles. Whichever strategy you employ, students need support.

It is sometimes argued that these kinds of conversations favor students that are confident expressing themselves verbally, and that’s hard to argue. But consider that academic writing favors gifted writers, traditional tests favor those comfortable with proving what they know, learning through technology favors students with a more diverse history of using technology, and so on.

And all can benefit from scaffolding so that students are given different levels of support–maybe unique tiers of index cards with easier to use or more natural stems–so that they can be successful on some level.

If you have any useful conversation stems, let us know in the comments so we can update the list!

26 Sentence Stems For Meaningful Conversation In The Classroom


Could you give me your thesis in one sentence?

Is it your position that…

To be clear, you’re saying that…

I’m confused when you say Z, Can you elaborate?


Put another way, you’re saying…

So you’re saying that…

Is it fair to say that you believe…

I hear you saying that…


I agree with Y because…

Z’s point about X was important because…

The evidence for Z is overwhelming when you consider that…

X and I are coming from the same position.

Despite disagreeing about Y, I agree with Z that…


I see it differently because…

The evidence I’ve seen suggests something different.

Some of that is fact, but some of it is opinion as well.

I agree that Y, but we also have to consider that…

We see Z differently.

Building On

Y mentioned that…

Yes–and furthermore…

The author’s claim that Z is interesting because…

Adding to what X said,…

If we change Xs position just a little, we can see that…


Overall, what I’m trying to say is…

My whole point in one sentence is…

More than anything else, I believe that…

sentence-stems-for-higher-level-discussion26 Sentence Stems For Higher-Level Discussion In The Classroom

Critical Thinking

126 Bloom’s Taxonomy Verbs For Digital Learning

126 Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy Verbs For Digital Learning

by TeachThought Staff

You can get a ready-for-the-classroom version of Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy for $6.95.

At TeachThought, we’re enthusiastic supporters of any learning taxonomy. (We even created our own, the TeachThought Learning Taxonomy.)

Put simply, learning taxonomies help us think about how learning happens. Even if they’re ‘not good’ as we’ve often seen the DOK framework described, they still highlight that there are many ways to frame thinking and give us practice in realizing that potential.

This means that we can have taxonomies for differentiation and taxonomies for thinking and taxonomies for tasks and assessment–so many possibilities for examining the actual process of thinking, learning, and the application of each.

This leads to cool visuals–Bloom’s Taxonomy posters, for example.

It can lead to tools that help to design lessons, units, and assessments–Bloom’s Taxonomy power verbs work well here.

And it can lead to further splintering of the concept, like this graphic that merges 21st century learning, modern digital and social spaces, and Bloom’s Taxonomy in one framework. This Teachthought graphic provides 126 power verbs for digital learning–a kind of Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy that relies on the existing Remember–Understand–Apply–Analyze–Evaluate–Create and then provides common digital tasks like moderating, duplicating, blogging, wiki-building, podcasting, and more.

The result is a tool that can help teachers think about the levels of higher-order thinking that go into these kinds of activities and projects. To be clear, just because a verb is in one category doesn’t mean it can’t also be used at higher or lower levels of thinking (i.e., appear in other categories of Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy).

See Also A Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy For Evaluating Digital Tasks

In fact, there is a significant amount of subjectivity and editorializing that goes into any kind framework that purports to outline how thinking happens. It’s not an exact science. Nonetheless, just the fact that we’re exploring thinking and digital tasks and student work together is at least as valuable as any single framework in and of itself.

By doing this kind of work, we collectively–you, TeachThought, administrators, schools, researchers, universities, etc.–can develop ‘fluency’ in the murky and abstract field of applied neurology.

We can begin to understand how understanding happens.

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy Power Verbs

Hopefully you find the graphic useful to explore, discuss, plan, and otherwise participate in Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy.

You can also find a classroom-ready version of our Bloom’s Taxonomy Digital Planning Verbs & Cards to shorten prep time and focus on broader lesson and unit planning strategies for your students.

If you have any verbs you’d like to see added to the chart, let us know in the comments below.

126 Bloom’s Taxonomy Verbs For Digital Learning


  1. Copying
  2. Defining
  3. Finding
  4. Locating
  5. Quoting
  6. Listening
  7. Googling
  8. Repeating
  9. Retrieving
  10. Outlining
  11. Highlighting
  12. Memorizing
  13. Networking
  14. Searching
  15. Identifying
  16. Selecting
  17. Tabulating
  18. Duplicating
  19. Matching
  20. Curating & Bookmarking
  21. Bullet-pointing


  1. Annotating
  2. Tweeting
  3. Associating
  4. Tagging (tagging your curriculum for example)
  5. Summarizing
  6. Relating
  7. Categorizing
  8. Paraphrasing
  9. Predicting
  10. Comparing
  11. Contrasting
  12. Commenting
  13. Journaling
  14. Interpreting
  15. Grouping
  16. Inferring
  17. Estimating
  18. Extending
  19. Gathering
  20. Exemplifying
  21. Expressing


  1. Acting out
  2. Articulate
  3. Reenact
  4. Loading
  5. Choosing
  6. Determining
  7. Displaying
  8. Revising Search Keywords
  9. Executing
  10. Examining
  11. Implementing
  12. Sketching
  13. Experimenting
  14. Hacking
  15. Interviewing
  16. Painting
  17. Preparing
  18. Playing
  19. Integrating
  20. Presenting
  21. Charting


  1. Calculating
  2. Categorizing (e.g., web content, search results, etc.)
  3. Breaking Down
  4. Correlating
  5. Deconstructing
  6. Strategic Hyperlinking
  7. Supporting (e.g., a cause)
  8. Mind-Mapping
  9. Organizing
  10. Appraising
  11. Advertising
  12. Dividing
  13. Deducing
  14. Distinguishing
  15. Illustrating
  16. Questioning
  17. Structuring
  18. Integrating
  19. Attributing
  20. Estimating
  21. Explaining


  1. Arguing & Debating
  2. Validating
  3. Testing
  4. Scoring
  5. Assessing
  6. Criticizing
  7. Commenting
  8. Iterating or Pivoting (e.g., a startup or app)
  9. Defending
  10. Detecting
  11. Experimenting
  12. Grading
  13. Hypothesizing
  14. Judging
  15. Moderating
  16. Posting
  17. Predicting
  18. Rating
  19. Reflecting
  20. Reviewing (e.g., a service or platform)
  21. Editorializing


  1. Blogging
  2. Building
  3. Animating
  4. Adapting
  5. Collaborating
  6. Composing
  7. Directing
  8. Devising
  9. Podcasting
  10. Wiki Building
  11. Writing
  12. Filming
  13. Programming
  14. Simulating
  15. Role-Playing
  16. Solving
  17. Remixing
  18. Facilitating
  19. Designing (a Presentation or Prezi or YouTube Channel)
  20. Negotiating
  21. Leading

126 Bloom’s Taxonomy Verbs For Digital Learning


25 Alternatives To “I Don’t Know” And “I Can’t”

25 Alternatives To ‘I Don’t Know’ & ‘I Can’t’

by TeachThought Staff

At the core of a growth mindset is the willingness to change.

While you might want to ‘change’ (e.g., improve), changing your own thinking patterns has to precede any behavioral change (e.g., growth), and language is a big part of that.

I can’t figure this out vs I haven’t been able to figure this out.

They won’t listen vs I have yet to figure out how to make them listen.

I’ve failed three times vs I’ve found three ways that don’t work.

I don’t know vs I’ll know as soon as I figure out…

The lesson? Language and thinking and change and growth all go hand-in-hand. You can find 25 alternatives to growth-killers ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I can’t’ below.

If you want a ready-to-use-tomorrow version of this, you can find a one version available for download, too.

25 Alternatives To ‘I Don’t Know’ & ‘I Can’t’

1. I need help with …

2. Before I can respond, I need …

3. I’m nervous about being wrong.

4. I can’t …, but I can …

5. If I knew how to …, I could answer. (Or, ‘If I could …, I could …)

6. I don’t know now, but I will soon because …

7. After talking to …, I think …

8. Let me find out.

9. I’m not certain, but maybe …

10. I’m confused exactly *here*.

11. It’s just a hunch, but …

12. A better question is …

13. Is this close?

14. I can’t because …

15. Learning is like a 10-run ladder, and I’m on rung # …

16. Let me make sure I understand exactly what’s being asked…

17. I feel comfortable/can answer or respond to this part…

18. Because I’m not sure, I should …

19. After googling, I’m wondering …

20. I can tell you that …

21. I know/know how to … and don’t know/know how to …, so the next step that makes the most sense is …

22. My gut tells me …

23. In the past when I didn’t know, one thing that worked for me is …

24. I don’t know because …

25. I’m going to start answering by …

26. Nietzsche said, “Judgments, judgments of value, concerning life, for it or against it, can, in the end, never be true: they have value only as symptoms, they are worthy of consideration only as symptoms; in themselves such judgments are stupidities.”

Curricula version

Sentence Stems To Eliminate “I Don’t Know” & “I Can’t”; 15 Alternatives To ‘I Don’t Know’ & ‘I Can’t’

Critical Thinking

48 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Content Area

48 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Content Area

by TeachThought Staff

Critical thinking is the heart and soul of learning, and–in our estimation anyway–ultimately more important than any one specific content area or subject matter.

It’s also an over-used and rather nebulous phrase — how do you teach someone to think? Of course that’s the purpose of education, but how do you effectively optimize that concept into lasting knowledge and the ability to apply it broadly?

Looking for more resources to teach critical thinking? Check out our critical thinking curricula resources on TpT.

What Is Critical Thinking?

This question is what inspires the creation of seemingly endless learning taxonomies and teaching methods: our desire to pin down a clear definition of what it means to think critically and how to introduce that skill in the classroom.

This makes critical thinking questions–well, critical. As Terry Heick explains in What Does Critical Thinking Mean?:

“To think critically about something is to claim to first circle its meaning entirely—to walk all the way around it so that you understand it in a way that’s uniquely you. The thinker works with their own thinking tools–schema. Background knowledge. Sense of identity. Meaning Making is a process as unique to that thinker as their own thumb print. There is no template.

After circling the meaning of whatever you’re thinking critically about—a navigation necessarily done with bravado and purpose—the thinker can then analyze the thing. In thinking critically, the thinker has to see its parts, its form, its function, and its context.

After this kind of survey and analysis you can come to evaluate it–bring to bear your own distinctive cognition on the thing so that you can point out flaws, underscore bias, emphasize merit—to get inside the mind of the author, designer, creator, or clockmaker and critique his work.”

A Cheat Sheet For Critical Thinking

In short, critical thinking is more than understanding something — it involves evaluation, critiquing, and a depth of knowledge that surpasses the subject itself and expands outward. It requires problem-solving, creativity, rationalization, and a refusal to accept things at face value.

It’s a willingness and ability to question everything.

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Digital Thinking by Global Digital Citizen Foundation is an excellent starting point for the ‘how’ behind teaching critical thinking by outlining which questions to ask.

It offers 48 critical thinking questions useful for any content area or even grade level with a little re-working/re-wording. You can also find online courses to develop your critical thinking skills on Classpert (a free online course search engine) if that’s useful.

Enjoy the list!

48 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Content Area

See Also: 28 Critical Thinking Question Stems & Response Cards

48 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Content Area


Making Friends: 10 Team-Building Games For Students 

10 Team-Building Games For A Friendlier Classroom

by TeachThought Staff

10 Team-Building Games for a Friendlier Classroom is a fantastic resource for developing relationships and a positive tone in the classroom.

Included are 10 team-building games to get you started towards a friendlier, more positive classroom. This resource was developed by our own TeachThought Professional Development provider Jackie Gerstein, whose fantastic blog User Generated Education has fantastic resources on Maker Education, Growth Mindset, and more.

Her 26 years of experience in the classroom teaching at the K-12 and higher education level have allowed these team-building games to be in a wide range of classrooms, and have met the approval of teachers nationally.

The games appear below–the first three as graphics, and the final seven as text below.

10 Team-Building Games For A Friendlier Classroom

4. Balloon Juggle-and-Sort

 Challenge participants to keep inflated balloons (1+ per person) in the air. This gets the group moving and cooperating.

Once they’ve got the hang of it, make it harder by adding in more balloons or placing restrictions (e.g. no hands to keep balloons up.)

Then ask participants to keep juggling the balloons but sort them into colors (works best with large groups.)

5. Catch Me If You Can

The group is divided into two and then asked to face one another in two lines.

The groups are given approximately one minute to look at the opposing team, taking in all details about the individuals in the other group.

The two lines turn and face away from the center. Each group has a minute to change things (total # of changes determined by the facilitator) about their appearance (i.e., change a watch to a different wrist, unbutton a button, etc.) The changes must be discrete but visible.

The players again turn in to face each other to discover the physical changes that have been made. The team who discovers the most wins.

6. Are you more like…?

Ask members to stand in the middle of the room, then have them move to either side to indicate their choice (they must pick one).

More like an iPad or a desktop?

More Spotify or Apple Music?

More of a saver or a spender?

More like cheetah or a bear?

More like the present or future?

More emotional or more logical?

More like a planet or star?

7. Flip the Sheet

While standing on top of a completely open bed sheet, the group must create a plan to get everyone on the opposite side of the sheet without anyone stepping off.

The size of the sheet should be defined by the number of individuals in the group. Larger groups may need to use a tarp instead.

8. All Aboard

Ask the whole group to try to fit inside a small area which can be marked by small platforms, circle of rope, tarpaulin, blanket–use your imagination!

No body parts can touch the ground outside of the area.

When the group succeeds, decrease the area (e.g., changing platforms, shrinking the circle, or folding the tarp) & challenge the group again.

How far can the group go?

9. How are we the same?

Group members are paired and asked to come up with four commonalities.

Two pairs are then formed and they need to communicate with one another to discover four commonalities among them.

These are then shared with the rest of the group.

10. Line up!

Tell the team you will be calling out a category, and they have to “line up” in order, based on the category.

Each person places him-herself on the line and moves to fit into the proper placement.

Each team member can only place and move him- or herself.

Example Categories:

 Birth Date (month and day)

 Alphabetical order in order of your middle name

 Alphabetical order in order of your birthplace

 Alphabetical order in order of your mother or father’s first name

More Information

This is the first set of team-building games in an ongoing series, each set designed for a specific purpose, audience, or effect.

Other Included Materials

• Game names and instructions for teacher
• General recommendations for choosing game
• 1 Editable presentation
• 1 PDF File

10 Team-Building Games For A Friendlier Classroom

Critical Thinking

28 Critical Thinking Question Stems For Any Content Area

28 Critical Thinking Question Stems For Any Content Area

by TeachThought Staff

Critical thinking isn’t a skill, nor is it content knowledge or even evidence of understanding. While it involves and requires these ideas, critical thinking is also very much a state of mind — a willingness and tendency to sit with an idea and ‘struggle wonderfully’ with it.

In critical thinking, there is no conclusion; it is constant interaction with changing circumstances and new knowledge that allows for broader vision which allows for new evidence which starts the process over again. Critical thinking has at its core raw emotion and tone. Intent.

The purpose of these stems is to help students practice this slippery ‘skill.’ By having dozens of questions written generally enough to be widely applicable, but with an inherent rigor that challenges students to think, the ability to practice thinking critically is always available.

Critical Thinking Cards

In adddition to the text and cards, we’ve included a graphic below. You also can purchase them in card-format to be printed and used right away in your classroom, a sample of which you can see below.

By making them cards, they are not only easier to ‘keep around’–on your desk, on a shelf in a workstation area, or even copied and given to students– but more importantly, meaningful thinking can become a part of your daily routines. Writing prompts, reading circles, Socratic discussions and more all benefit from critical thinking, and providing students with stems is a way of supporting them as their confidence grows and their habits as thinkers develop.

28 Critical Thinking Question Stems For Any Content Area

1. What evidence can you present for/against…?

2. How does … contrast with …?

3. How could you outline or concept map…? Explain your response with examples.

4. Why is … significant? Explain your reasoning.

5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of …?

6. What is the point or ‘big idea’ of …?

7. How could you judge the accuracy of …?

8. What are the differences between … and …?

9. How is … related to …?

10. What ideas could you add to … and how would these ideas change it?

11. Describe … from the perspective of ….

12. What do you think about …? Explain your reasoning.

13. When might … be most useful and why?

14. How could you create or design a new…? Explain your thinking.

15. What solutions could you suggest the problem of …? Which might be most effective and why?

16. What might happen if you combined … and …?

17. Do you agree that …? Why or why not?

18. What information would you need to make a decision about …?

19. How could you prioritize …?

20. How is … an example of …?

21. What are the most important parts or features of …?

22. Which details of … are most important and why?

23. What patterns do you notice in …?

24. How could you classify … into a more/less general category?

25. What makes … important?

26. What criteria could you use to assess …?

27. How could … and … function together? How do they work separately and together and different ways?

28. Where is … most/least …? Explain your reasoning.

28 Critical Thinking Question Stems For Any Content Area


15 Self-Guided Reading Responses For Non-Fiction Texts

15 Self-Guided Reading Responses For Non-Fiction Texts

by TeachThought Curricula

Critical literacy begins in being able to decode a text and then analyze it for meaning, implicit and explicit themes, and the relationship of a text to a given perspective, author’s purpose, and related text and media.

Critical literacy is about a text and the motives of the people behind the text, and understanding how what we read and consume affects us. It requires us to become critical readers — to think ‘What am I consuming, and what might I do as a result’?

The prompts appear on the image below. If you’d like to download actual cards to use in the classroom (see the image above for an example), we’ve created a curricula set you can download here.

Content Area: English-Language Arts, Literature, Writing

Grade Level: High School/Grades 8-12

Curricula Format

If you’d like to purchase printable reading response cards to use in the classroom, you can do so at our recently-created-and-quickly-growing TeachersPayTeachers Store.

You can find the direct link to the non-fiction reading responses curricula here.

Curricula Details

The included cards provide questions that encourage critical reading of fiction and non-fiction works, with question list variations offered to emphasize keywords. You can use as:

*writing prompts for reading journals
*have students choose a number for independent reading
*use as discussion prompts or as exit slips
*create assessments around them