Quick Critical Thinking


Once a month, David Weimer uses critical-thinking prompts in section that students respond to via quick write or partner discussion.

If the activity takes the form of a quick write, David will give the students a question, and they will have to write for 5 minutes without crafting a polished argument.  Rather, their pen shouldn't leave the paper, and they should focus on recording their thoughts.  For example, in Art and Thought in the Cold War, the students had read On the Road, "Howl," and had looked at several Jackson Pollack paintings.  The students were prompted to spend 5 minutes answering, "What is the role of autobiography in these works?"  Sometimes David has students discuss their answers rather than write. For example, in American Encounters, David often had students respond to prompts about certain paintings in pairs.  The prompt for this activity would often be the question that he would lead up to in section, so it would be relevant to the previous discussion.

This activity allows David to call on the quieter students during the ensuing discussion because he knows that they'll have a comment.