Math + Critical Thinking

Math shirtI subscribe to The Critical Thinking Consortium, or TC2 ( It’s a group of educators who create material and conduct trainings for teachers. Super site too. It offers very accessible materials for all levels, often with a Canadian focus, since it’s headquartered in Vancouver, B.C. The site is informative and jam packed with ideas for educators of all subjects at all levels. Membership is nominal (~$40/yr) and allows you access everything. I’ve used many activities in my own classroom, and the students loved them.

Recently, Laura Gini-Newman, a TC2 facilitator, talked about how she uses CT in her math class.

One year, she had students create a personalized license plate using only mathematical symbols or representations to communicate something interesting about themselves they wanted others to know.

Another year she asked them to create T-shirt slogans, again only with math symbols. They liked the project so much that they had T-shirts printed so they could wear them to class.


    1. We learned a lot about each other.

    2. The projects set a learning tone in the classroom.

    3. Students learned that math can be a fun, thinking subject; that it represents ideas by using symbols; and is used to communicate important ideas.

    4. Some of them realized that math is a language!

“That’s what I call powerful learning,” said Gini-Newman of her projects.

Published by Nancy Burkhalter

I am in love with words. Trained as a linguist, journalist and researcher, I write, teach writing, and research everything about writing, especially how writing aids critical thinking. I've taught around the world, including three years in Kazakhstan, and a year each in Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Germany.

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