Class Superlatives. I’m sure we’ve all experienced them. “Most Likely to Succeed,” “Most Athletic,” “Best Smile.” People are drawn to superlatives because it is human nature to form an opinion, and to then see if that opinion is reciprocated. One of the easiest ways to add critical thinking to your class discussion is to create a “Content Superlative” discussion.
What It Is:
With this strategy, you create Superlative Awards. These awards should be tailored to your content, but some common ones I use are “Most Interesting,” “Most Important,” and “Hardest to Understand.” Give your students time to nominate the content to the award they feel it is most deserving.
The beauty of this strategy is how adaptable it is. You could use it for a list of vocabulary words, for the bones in the human body, for the seven math operations in PEMDAS – as long as you have content that include a group of similar items, this strategy is applicable.
How You Do It:
Give students a list of the awards. Then, allow them to have time to choose which item deserves which award. I allow students to use items more than once, and to not use others at all. At the bottom of this post is the document I gave to students to help them organize their ideas.
Have students write down their reasoning behind the nomination. Forming an opinion is one way to boost higher level thinking by engaging in evaluation; however supporting your nomination requires analysis and an even clearer understanding of the content. Therefore, I always have students jot down ways they would support their nomination.
Finally, I like to show a simple Google slideshow with blank certificates, and as a class we vote on which piece of content should win each award. This was really fun, and the students loved cheering for their nomination to win! I never imagined I would see so many 10-year-olds chanting, “Cause and Effect! Cause and Effect!”
Why I Love It:
- It engages higher level thinking on Bloom’s Taxonomy by encouraging analysis and evaluation
- It brings energy and excitement to even the most boring of topics (like text structures!)
- The students LOVE debating their choices
A Few Tips
- I like to reserve this for my most boring topics. It is easy enough to use that I can add spice to the topics that are really dragging.
- I don’t use this for every topic. Imagine if every week you had to vote on “Most Likely To Succeed.” After a few weeks, it would get old.
- I like to use this at the END of the unit as a culminating activity. However, another great possibility would be to use it as a formative, then again at the end to see how nominations have changed!