We were looking at released items (actual scored test questions) on Washington state's high stakes WASL test, when we discovered what seemed to be an abysmal state of students' critical thinking. On the persuasive essay (a silly question asking students to argue for a change in a PE class), students seemed to struggle giving reasons for their point-of-view.
"What is your evidence?" is a parental refrain we need to remember more often.
Well, here's an idea for your family dinner table. Our daughter just started a Real Life Mysteries course through Northwestern CTD, and we found this wonderful historical court trials site below which allows you to sift through testimonies, for instance, in the Lincoln assassination conspirators trial. Our kids really enjoyed reading about some of the wilder conspiracy theories, and lame alibis. Even the Mudd story is interesting. Apparently Discovery channel will be airing it's documentary on the Lincoln conspiracy at the end of March.
Famous Court Trials: The Trial of the Lincoln Assassination Conspirators
Lincoln Assassination Conspiracy Theories
ReadWriteThink: Critical Thinking and Persuasive Writing Lesson Plans
WASL Released Writing Essays with Scores - 7th grade