Monday, December 19

Fostering Critical Thinking Skills in Teens {FREE Download}

Last year, we discovered the Tuttle Twins resources, and have been using them to introduce government and economics concepts.  We were inspired to try out the more upper level series, Guide To..., for our teens.  This illustrated, hardback series of books for pre-teens and teenagers (and adults!) introduces critical thinking, logic, entrepreneurship, hard work, standing up for what is right, and much more! 

Visit Exploring Government & Finance to see more about the elementary series.

There are four books in the series, each with multiple lessons that are direct, concise, and help students relate concepts to their daily lives.  This set is a natural progression from the original series into more advanced concepts.  Two of the books are designed to make students think about thinking and thought processes.  The other two books are motivational and inspirational in nature, showing examples of people who trudged through difficult times to make a difference in the world.

Unlike the original series, Ethan and Emily (the Tuttle Twins) aren't the main focus of the books, but they do make regular appearances.  With all four books, each chapter addresses one concept or person, with a visual introduction and a short lesson.  In the bias and fallacy books, there are some real-world examples and thinking scenarios as well.  One main lesson that runs through all of the Tuttle Twins books is the focus on personal responsibility, individual freedoms, and limited government.

These books are a fantastic introduction to a variety of concepts, and we decided to adopt them for a year-long elective course.  For the purposes of rounding out the series to create a full-year class, we've also added a few videos and the book, Fallacy Detective.  If you want to download the free curriculum guide to use in your homeschool, just scroll down!

What's included in the set?

  • The Tuttle Twins Guide to Courageous Heroes
    • Daring men and women aren’t just found in the pages of fictional stories. In fact, history offers us a number of examples of people who stood up for what was right in the face of significant opposition. Their stories can inspire us to also be courageous when the situation calls for it.  Whether the problem is a large one, like a dictatorial state or a cultural prejudice, or a small one, such as standing up to a bully, we can resolve to be a hero and fight for what is right.  That’s why the stories in this book are so impactful—they offer us an opportunity to learn lessons from the lives of a wide variety of people and ponder how we might have acted in a similar situation.  These heroes often stand out because so many of their peers failed to act likewise. Sadly, too few seem to have the courage to oppose something that is wrong. But these stories can help us prepare to be counted as someone who will choose the right!
  • The Tuttle Twins Guide to Logical Fallacies
    • In a society where countless ideas are being shared, debated, and analyzed, it’s more important than ever to sift out the good ones from among the bad ones. And when people you respect and trust use arguments that sound persuasive, how can you determine if they are correct?  One of the most commonly used methods of spreading misinformation is the use of a logical fallacy—a bad argument that makes something seem truthful that actually might not be. These types of arguments are used repeatedly, and there are many different types.  Fortunately, these logical fallacies can be learned, so they can be avoided. Armed with this information, you’ll be equipped to understand when people are sharing an idea that is wrong or making a claim that isn’t true. You’ll become an expert debater by being able to point out a flaw in an opponent’s argument.  That makes this book dangerous—a guidebook for teenagers and young adults who want to explore the ins and outs of how to win arguments and point out problems in others’ ideas. Use this book wisely!
  • The Tuttle Twins Guide to Beware Your Bias
    • We all have them. And we know everyone else does, too. But we avoid thinking about them, even though they affect our thinking deeply. What are they?  They are cognitive biases, and they lead our mind to do things that might not be in our best interest. We are all prone to being affected by them, yet hardly anyone takes the time to learn about them—and how to make sure they don’t have as great an impact on us.  That’s where this guidebook comes in, helping teens and adults learn about each bias so that we can make a concerted effort to not fall prey to their powers. Armed with this information, we can think more clearly, better understand ourselves and others, and make good decisions to benefit our lives.  This is powerful information precisely because so few people seek it. Those who read this book will have an advantage over others who are mentally manipulated without knowing it.
  • The Tuttle Twins Guide to Inspiring Entrepreneurs
    • Throughout history, a certain few people have made risky decisions in an attempt to solve a problem that many people were experiencing, hoping that their new innovation or invention would be able to serve these people and that they—the entrepreneurs, as we call them—would be able to profit in return.  These risk-takers are the key drivers of the economy who create jobs and new products and services that make our lives more comfortable and convenient. The world becomes a better place through their efforts.  But entrepreneurs don’t always succeed. Indeed, their failures teach them powerful (and sometimes hard) lessons that they can learn from. They gain knowledge with each new attempt that makes their future efforts even more fruitful.  Their stories can serve as inspiration as you begin to determine your own path in life and whether being an entrepreneur is part of your journey.

Free - Curriculum Guide for Critical Thinking

This guide is used for an introductory-level course with written components. Students are expected to take notes each day during the reading and do extra research for the writing assignments. The course may be completed independently or family-style, through read-aloud chapters.

Required Resources:

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Co-op Classes

Sparks Academy offers two versions of the US Constitution & Government class as part of their online courses. One is a single-semester government course, while the other is a year-long course that also includes a semester of economics and entrepreneurship.

For a peer group setting and /or more structured needs (available for language arts, science, and history)Sparks Academy provides blended classes. These are classes hosted online that include textbook and video elements, discussion feeds with peers, and live, virtual meetings.  Each week, the students are interacting through facilitated discussion in a private forum.  Classes “meet” weekly via shared assignments and moderated discussion during the school year (August 14, 2023 – May 4, 2024 for the ’24-’24 school year).

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