HOT Question: Are Kids Taught Higher Order Thinking At School?

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We’ve examined how education has evolved in several posts, with technology becoming an integral asset to the industry at this point in time. Along the way, the approach to learning has expanded to include more than merely knowing a concept. Bloom’s Taxonomy focuses on this as well but also includes additional skills which are understood to be a form of Higher Order Thinking Skills, or HOTs, for short. Bloom’s Taxonomy served as a guideline for Zap Zap Math when we developed our game, and we continue to look to it in terms of our updates as well. This is why we want to ensure the app is aligned with the concept, and provides an avenue for kids to hone their HOTs.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy serves as a framework that educators can utilize to help plan for lessons and interactions with students. It was originally conceived by an educational psychologist named Benjamin Bloom in the 50s, but was further revised in 2001 to suit the changes in education, technology, society and culture. The framework for knowledge as it is today consists of six categories, which are: Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate and Create. This framework is especially helpful for educators, simply because it will allow them to organize and structure interesting and appropriate classroom activities within this model. What’s more, it will also simplify their evaluations of tasks at hand to see if the outcomes match the framework.

Some may argue that Remembering, Understanding and Applying knowledge would be sufficient for school-going kids, and they will eventually grasp the other three facets of Bloom’s Taxonomy in higher education like college or university, but it may be more beneficial to start them young so that it becomes habitual and natural to them to Analyze, Evaluate and Create. By making kids active participants in school early on, they will come to utilize each stage of the framework without much difficulty.

Why HOTs?

Why not? Analyzing, Evaluating and Creating make up the higher order thinking aspect of Bloom’s Taxonomy and could potentially be the best weapon in the arsenal of any student. The ability to think creatively and logically, will ultimately prove helpful in real-world situations, which is why they should be prioritized in lessons as much as possible. These days it is simply not enough to only understand or memorize concepts, and instead of having the culture shock of having to analyze, evaluate and create later on in their educational life, it would be prudent to expose kids to these ideals as early as possible.

Of course, some parties may be concerned that teachers already have enough on their plate to begin with, and that adding on to this would put significant pressure on them as well, or that it would cost schools more to incorporate a more complex framework. However, with innovative thinking and planning, it wouldn’t require additional costs at all! All it really takes is improvised methods and enhancements of existing programs, rather than an entirely new setup. In fact, many schools may already have some in place, but they just need an added emphasis.

HOTs In Schools

If previous lessons were concerned about memorizing, then the time has come to go above and beyond. Fortunately, many schools have begun to recognize the importance of HOTs for kids, with a lot of research being done on the topic as well, so teachers know how to use the right methods to achieve all six facets of Bloom’s Taxonomy model. The recommendation is for teachers to use real-world contexts as much as possible, to make topics relatable and logical to kids, whilst helping them to understand that their classroom activities will in fact help them beyond the school environment. Besides that, giving students the opportunity to critically view and approach issues allows them freedom to learn and yes, perhaps even make mistakes – but in a safe environment. Much like how Zap Zap Math helps kids to learn from their mistakes in Math by providing them with the same “exercises” in the form of games, until they’re able to improve!

The best part is these skills can be incorporated across all subjects and topics in schools as well. Simply by encouraging dialogue and questions, the teachers can get their students brains working differently. This research paper highlights a teacher who incorporated drawing into her math class so her students were able to visualize their choices with an illustrated representation of a math problem. While they struggled before, the inclusion of drawing helped them to instead generate different ways to tackle the issue at hand. The ideal outcome is for kids to be supported enough by teachers and faculty at the start so that eventually they can independently come up with their own ideas.

Besides that, the greatest resource for more ideas on how to encourage HOTs in schools is just a click away with the help of the Internet. This awesome article highlights a few ways teachers can get their kids to further engage with materials and concepts discussed in school to take it a notch higher than normal. Examples include producing their own content such as videos, with a time limit. This will encourage kids to formulate ideas and structure accordingly to meet with the stipulated rules and guidelines. And now in a culture where everyone has a cell-phone on hand, it’s extremely doable and would not cost a lot. Editing software is easily available for free online as well. The inclusion of technology in this context makes it even better as it allows kids to freely explore media within the classroom.

A Future Of HOTs Equipped Minds

As more educators, schools and even parents begin to note the great outcomes of incorporating HOTs and the idea behind Bloom’s Taxonomy into their kids lives, it will soon become a natural part of learning, and shows just how far education has come. Perhaps it will take awhile for it to become a widespread phenomenon across schools in America, but there will always be ways and avenues to incorporate these ideals slowly into the hearts and minds of our young ones. For our part, we will continue to develop our games with these concepts in mind, so that teachers and parents have a supplementary option to help their kids hone these skills in addition to what is taught in school. It is no easy feat to mould the minds of the next generation, but we are in a position where technology is our greatest asset, and we should definitely make use of it.

Why remember lots when you can develop HOTs? Get a copy of Zap Zap Math today and see how learning can be dynamic and mentally invigorating!

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