One of the main 21st century components that teachers want their students to use is higher-order thinking. This is when students use complex ways to think about what they are learning.
Higher-order thinking takes thinking to a whole new level. Students using it are understanding higher levels rather than just memorizing facts. They would have to understand the facts, infer them, and connect them to other concepts.
Here are 10 teaching strategies to enhance higher-order thinking skills in your students.
1. Help Determine What Higher-Order Thinking Is
Help students understand what higher-order thinking is. Explain to them what it is and why they need it. Help them understand their own strengths and challenges. You can do this by showing them how they can ask themselves good questions. That leads us to the next strategy.
2. Connect Concepts
Lead students through the process of how to connect one concept to another. By doing this you are teaching them to connect what they already know with what they are learning. This level of thinking will help students learn to make connections whenever it is possible, which will help them gain even more understanding. For example, let’s say that the concept they are learning is “Chinese New Year.” An even broader concept would be “Holidays.”
3. Teach Students to Infer
Teach students to make inferences by giving them “real-world” examples. You can start by giving students a picture of a people standing in line at a soup kitchen. Ask them to look at the picture and focus on the details. Then, ask them to make inferences based on what they see in the picture. Another way to teach young students about how to infer is to teach an easy concept like weather. Ask students to put on their raincoat and boots, then ask them to infer what they think the weather looks like outside.
4. Encourage Questioning
A classroom where students feel free to ask questions without any negative reactions from their peers or their teachers is a classroom where students feel free to be creative. Encourage students to ask questions, and if for some reason you can’t get to their question during class time, show them how they can answer it themselves or have them save the question until the following day.
5. Use Graphic Organizers
Graphic organizers provide students with a nice way to frame their thoughts in an organized manner. By drawing diagrams or mind maps, students are able to better connect concepts and see their relationships. This will help students develop a habit of connecting concepts.
6. Teach Problem-Solving Strategies
Teach students to use a step-by-step method for solving problems. This way of higher-order thinking will help them solve problems faster and more easily. Encourage students to use alternative methods to solve problems as well as offer them different problem-solving methods.
7. Encourage Creative Thinking
Creative thinking is when students invent, imagine, and design what they are thinking. Using creative senses helps students process and understand information better. Research shows that when students utilize creative higher-order thinking skills, it indeed increases their understanding. Encourage students to think “outside of the box.”
8. Use Mind Movies
When concepts that are being learned are difficult, encourage students to create a movie in their mind. Teach them to close their eyes and picture it like a movie playing. This way of higher-order thinking will truly help them understand in a powerful, unique way.
9. Teach Students to Elaborate Their Answers
Higher-order thinking requires students to really understand a concept, not repeat it or memorize it. Encourage students to elaborate their answers by asking the right questions that make students explain their thoughts in more detail.
10. Teach QARs
Question-Answer-Relationships, or QARs, teach students to label the type of question that is being asked and then use that information to help them formulate an answer. Students must decipher if the answer can be found in a text or online or if they must rely on their own prior knowledge to answer it. This strategy has been found to be effective for higher-order thinking because students become more aware of the relationship between the information in a text and their prior knowledge, which helps them decipher which strategy to use when they need to seek an answer.