Moving from What to What If?

Teaching Critical Thinking with Authentic Inquiry and Assessments

This practical book outlines how you can challenge students to grapple with complex problems and engage more meaningfully with information across the content areas, rather than rely solely on rote memorization and standardized testing to measure academic success. Author John Barell shares vignettes from effective middle and high school teachers around the country, analyzes what works and what doesn’t when encouraging students to dig deeper, and offers practical strategies that you can try in your own classroom.
Topics include:

  • Guiding students to hone their skills in abstract reasoning, inquiry, creative problem solving, and critical thinking;
  • Designing your lessons and units for authentic
    achievement, to prepare students for success in their future careers and academic pursuits;
  • Using rigorous benchmark assessments to analyze
    students’ progress in meaningful ways; and
  • Encouraging students to set learning goals and drive their own achievement.
Aligned with the Common Core and other standards, this book will help you teach students to become inquisitive, engaged citizens who wonder about the universe, stretch their
imaginations, and solve problems by asking, What If?

Recent Reviews:

"In Moving from What to What If? John Barell offers compelling guidance for all educators to prepare students for college, careers, and life in the 21st century. Each chapter includes helpful, specific examples of how critical thinking is taught, learned, and assessed in core academic subjects. Data on students' growth as well as district change strategies are offered as well. Barell's contribution is timely and vital reading."

Valerie Greenhill, M.A., M.Ed.
Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer

"I’ve known John Barell as an incisive observer of teachers and students in my school. Now I see the remarkable outcome of his research. His book melds theory, analysis of student work, and sharp-eyed observations of expert teachers into a compelling narrative of what teaching ought to be. He provides thought-provoking examples of teachers who focus on building authentic assessments that cultivate student inquiry and imagination. Barell makes a forceful case for moving away from standardized testing and toward the type of rich project-based learning that the many teachers he depicts have already shown to be effective."

David Sherrin
Harvest Collegiate High School
New York City

"In Moving from WHAT to WHAT IF, John Barell offers compelling examples of classrooms that invite students to question and to work collaboratively with each other and their teachers on meaningful problems and towards meaningful learning goals. This is a terrific resource across subject areas for nurturing students' authentic intellectual work."

M. Bruce King, PhD
AIW Institute @ WCEPS
Dept of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis
University of Wisconsin-Madison

"How refreshing. Moving From What to What If? reveals how teachers can significantly increase rigor in the work they give students. By including the experiences of students and the breakthroughs of teachers willing to take risks to improve their own practice, the book shares compelling examples of how to transform student learning and performance. It provides evidence that rich adult and student learning results when teachers dare to move beyond tasks that require simple regurgitation of facts to lessons that engage students in applying their learning to figure out real problems. In particular, the story of the Pike County Schools professional learning journey inspired me.”

Gale Hulme
CEO/Executive Director
The Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement (GLISI)
Lawrenceville, GA

“John Barell draws on his observations of exceptional educators, careful analysis of student work, ideas from history’s greatest thinkers and his own experience to make a compelling case for ‘authentic work’ and ‘problem based learning.’ ‘Moving from What to What If?’ provides a range of practical strategies to engage student intellect and promote wonder, possibility thinking and problem solving.”

Rachel French
Director of Professional Learning International
Frankfurt, Germany

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Available here: Routledge
Receive 20% discount with promo code: IRK95
Reduces price from $35.95 to $27.96!

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