How to Increase Higher Order Thinking (H.O.T.), Part 6

Here’s the 6th part of How to Increase Higher Order Thinking:

Taken directly from Reading

Think with analogies, similes, and metaphors

Teach students to use analogies, similes and metaphors to explain a concept. Start by modeling (“I do”), then by doing several as a whole class (“We do”) before finally asking the students to try one on their own (“You do”). Model both verbal and nonverbal metaphors.

Reward creative thinking

Most students will benefit from ample opportunity to develop their creative tendencies and divergent thinking skills. They should be rewarded for original, even “out of the box” thinking.

Include analytical, practical, and creative thinking

Teachers should provide lesson plans that include analytical, practical and creative thinking activities. Psychologist Robert Sternberg has developed a framework of higher order thinking called “Successful Intelligence.” After analyzing successful adults from many different occupations, Sternberg discovered that successful adults utilize three kinds of higher order thinking: (1) analytical (for example, compare and contrast, evaluate, analyze, critique), (2) practical (for example, show how to use something, demonstrate how in the real world, utilize, apply, implement), and (3) creative (for example, invent, imagine, design, show how, what would happen if). Data show that using all three increases student understanding.

Teach components of the learning process

To build metacognition, students need to become consciously aware of the learning process. This changes students from passive recipients of information to active, productive, creative, generators of information. It is important, then for teachers to talk about and teach the components of the learning process: attention, memory, language, graphomotor, processing and organization, and higher order thinking.

Actively teach metacognition

Actively teach metacognition to facilitate acquisition of skills and knowledge. It is important for students to know how they think and learn. Teach students about what Robert Sternberg calls successful intelligence or mental self-management. Successful intelligence is a great way to explain metacognition.

In his book entitled Successful Intelligence, Sternberg lists six components of successful intelligence:

  1. Know your strengths and weaknesses
  2. Capitalize on your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses
  3. Defy negative expectations
  4. Believe in yourself. This is called self-efficacy
  5. Seek out role models — people from whom you can learn
  6. Seek out an environment where you can make a difference

Use resources

Several resource books by Robert Sternberg are available on higher order thinking. The following books should be helpful and are available at local bookstores or online.

  • Successful Intelligence by Robert J. Sternberg
  • Teaching for Successful Intelligence by Robert J. Sternberg and Elena L. Grigorenko
  • Teaching for Thinking by Robert J. Sternberg and Louise Spear-Swerling

Consider individual evaluation

Many students with higher order thinking challenges benefit from individual evaluation and remediation by highly qualified professionals.

Make students your partners

A teacher should let the student with higher order thinking challenges know that they will work together as partners to achieve increases in the student’s skills. With this type of relationship, often the student will bring very practical and effective strategies to the table that the teacher may not have otherwise considered.


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