Educational trends seem to change almost yearly. One year ‘this method’ is the best thing ever invented. The next year ‘this method’ has lost its appeal, and a new idea is a must try. However, the one trend that has remained constant year after year is higher order thinking skills (HOTS). HOTS encourages learners to go far beyond the memorization of facts. Students analyze, evaluate, and create. So, where do you begin? First, help students understand what HOTS is.
What are Higher Order Thinking Skills?
Bloom’s Taxonomy is as popular today as it was when Benjamin Bloom created the method in 1965. Teach students the six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Also, go over what each level means.
Activities for Higher Order Thinking Skills
Have students make connections with their current knowledge and new concepts. Check out this post. It is the first of three lessons on teaching ‘Making Connections with Text.’ Best of all, free printables are included.
Have students make inferences using photos. When beginning, real life examples are easier to understand. National Geographic’s “Photo of the Day” is a great place to get interesting photos. This link goes to the National Geographic Chrome Extension. After the app is downloaded, two weeks of photos become your wallpaper. These change daily to the most current selections.
Use Graphic Organizers
Who doesn’t love interactive notebooks? Organizers help in many ways. Firstly, they encourage students to categorize concepts. Additionally, organizers classify ideas. Use organizers as a springboard for brainstorming. What’s more, they help student find relationships between topics. Also, organizers structure information before writing.
Printable or digital options can be utilized. Now digital versions are available for hundreds of resources.
Use concept maps. With this method, students draw diagrams that show relationships. For example, students can visualize cause and effect connections. Even more, main idea and details are well-defined. Another result is sequencing becomes clear.
Students often take short cuts with answering questions. Encourage students to elaborate. This can be done by having students organize information before writing. Lists will guide students into more detailed responses.
Next ask students to go a step further. Students can relate their answer to personal experiences. Another higher level question is to explain future application.
Make your classroom a question friendly environment. Do your students need help asking better questions? This blog post provides instructions for several questioning games. You’ll learn how to Ask Siri. Ten Questions and Question Swap are explained.
Use the Here, Hidden, Head, Heart Method of Questioning
When questioning students, go from basic to complicated. David Hornsby created this method to help students understand levels of comprehension. This alliteration makes remembering the levels fun and easy.
When possible, have students use step-by-step problem solving strategies. This encourages higher level thinking. Also, have students develop different methods for solving the same problem.
Assign projects that include creative higher level tasks. This includes inventing, imagining, and designing.
Provide questions for students to talk over with their parents.
- Should the school have a dress code?
- What do you think of this world event?
- What should our town do about this local issue?
- How can we make a difference in our community with …?
Give students a learning styles questionnaire. Here is one to try.
Pair a student who prefers “tell me” with a student who prefers “show me.” This pairing connects visual with verbal learners. As the two work together, each student will model examples that will strengthen his/her partner’s weaknesses.
Cooperative Learning Groups
Group students into learning groups by mixed abilities.
Reward Creative Thinking
When students provide “out of the box” answers, PRAISE. PRAISE. PRAISE.
A Teacher’s Reference Guide To Questions
This organizer provides a quick reference for teachers to come up with higher level questions on the fly. The staggered flip organizer is divided into five areas teachers use in reading class. The organizer includes
- main idea
- compare and contrast
Higher Level Questions
To improve my level of questions, use this simple, yet effective, staggered flip organizer. Each page provides example questions that could be asked during a lesson. Glue the organizer on the inside front cover of your grade book. During class, use the organizer as a reference to quickly ask higher level questions. After a short while, using a variety of questions became automatic.