Higher order thinking involves the use of higher-level
mental processes to regulate the more basic cognitive processes.
Higher order thinking allows for the sophisticated integration
of knowledge and the most effective learning and performance to
occur. Creativity and brainstorming are two aspects of higher
order thinking. Brainstorming involves the generation of ideas
as well as the ability to decide which ideas are best. Creativity
involves the process of thinking in a new or innovative direction.
Brainstorming and thinking creatively are important components
of a student's ability to generate ideas.
Students who are apt at brainstorming and thinking
creatively will find these abilities beneficial to many other
endeavors in school including problem solving, decision-making,
and the ongoing understanding of concepts.
Here are some strategies to help students develop
their ability to generate ideas through a focus on higher order
- Create a safe environment in the classroom
that is conducive to risk taking and promotes innovative thinking.
- Encourage students' pursuits of affinities,
or areas of focused interest. Incorporating affinities into
the classroom may not only benefit student's acquisition of
skills, but may help students to move into an area of thinking
they had not yet explored.
- Allow students to select materials, projects,
reading texts, writing topics, spelling words.
- Use high interest subject matter for creative
activities. A student with an interest in baseball, for
instance, may create a fictional story about a baseball
legend or take a stance on a current issue, such as salary
caps for professional players.
- Set aside a space in the classroom where
students can go to strengthen their strengths and gain expertise
in their affinity areas (e.g., Jonathon's Cinema History
Corner, Joanna's Geological Arena).
- Allow students to create products using different
formats, such as comics, TV scripts, magazine articles, and
- Develop activities that promote students'
ability to think ahead, or predict possible outcomes. For example:
- Implement collaborative activities in
which students start with the same beginning and work in
teams to predict outcomes, or all students start with the
same outcome and work in teams to determine what led to
the outcome, etc.
- In writing use story starter activities,
collaborative writings where each student contributes a
- In social studies have students make predictions
about historical events before learning the actual outcomes.
- Have students estimate answers to math
problems and science experiments. \
- Stress the real-life benefits of estimating
and reasoning to discourage the preoccupation students may
have with just getting the answer.
- Provide students with a strategy sheet
for problem solving in which estimation, prediction, and
outcome comparison are necessary steps.
- Incorporate guided higher order thinking activities
in order to promote students' creativity, brainstorming, and
critical thinking. For example: In English, 'Write an alternative
ending to Wuthering Heights uniting Catherine and Heathcliff
in life', 'Why do you think E. B. White called his book Charlotte's
Web instead of Wilbur or Zuckerman's Farm‘', 'How did Sinclair
Lewis poke fun at middle class America in Babbitt‘' In social
studies, 'How might America's history have been changed if Lincoln
had not been assassinated‘',' How did events in post- World
War I Germany lead to the rise of Nazism’ What lessons does
Nazism hold for events in Europe today‘' In mathematics, 'How
is trigonometry applied to the construction of bridges‘' In
science, 'Are we making adequate progress in developing treatments
for cancer‘' (adapted from Sternberg & Spear-Swerling, 1996).
- Create a safe environment in the classroom
that is conducive to taking risks, using imagination and thinking
in innovative ways.
- Steps of the Creative Process (adapted
from Wallas, 1926)
- Preparation- At this initial step, students
will need to familiarize themselves with the problem at
hand or the product they wish to create. The goal of the
Preparation step is not to solve the problem, but to become
intrigued by it.
- Incubation- At the second step, the task,
problem or initial idea is put aside and no conscious effort
is expended on the task. Creative people feel that this
rest period may be a period in which the unconscious mulls
over the problem.
- Inspiration- During this phase, the creator
has a strong sense of the solution and/or the path to take
in order to solve the problem.
- Verification- This step involves
an intense period of work during which mental effort is
expended to solve the problem or complete the activity in
order to verify the initial inspiration.