The Department of Education (2004) state,”
Higher-order thinking requires students to manipulate information and ideas in
ways that transform their meaning and implications.” The teacher’s main task is
to create activities and environments that allow for students to engage in
higher order thinking. The teacher can do this by implementing and linking
specific teaching strategies such as, writing, direct instruction, discussion,
problem solving, small group work and cooperative learning in unison and
individually. By utilizing these strategies in a thoughtful manner, students
are given the opportunity to participate and learn in enriched activities that
exercise and develop their higher order thinking skills.

Encouraging students to learn through writing
can actively engage them in a learning process in which Killen, (2009) suggests
they are encouraged to think about, manipulate and use ideas that they are
encountering. Writing is a way for students to critically evaluate, analyse and
organise ideas that connect them to their prior learning to deeper their understanding
in any key learning area. However this can be a difficult task and can
hinder students learning if they do not have to appropriate literacy skills
required. In order for this strategy to work effectively for these students,
the teacher needs to guide students into writing with ease. “This can be done
with simple journal entries and finishing incomplete sentences,” (Killen,
2009). Teaching students to learn through writing encourages them to express
their ideas and develop their confidence in their ability to write well. It is
clear that learning through writing allows students to exercise higher order
thinking skills as they are evaluating, analyzing and reflecting on their work.
Learning through writing can be implemented in a direct instruction lesson to
enhance the students’ knowledge and understanding.

Direct instruction is a teacher-centered
strategy that requires organization and planning. It allows the teacher to
deliver information to students in a highly structured way with a focus on academic
achievement. Direct instruction is not just a ‘chalk and talk’ teaching
approach. Killen (2009) indicates, it allows the teacher to teach, model and
demonstrate learning in small steps and needs to allow for student practice in
between these steps. Questioning and probing is vital in direct instruction.
Killen, (2009) suggests, by asking students higher order questions develops the
student’s critical thinking skills. This allows students to build on and pursue
knowledge on their own. By using this teaching strategy, students are provided
with information and interconnections. However, direct instruction does not
cater for all learning needs and students are required to have skills in note
taking and observing in order to understand information. To cater for all
students the information can then be developed in a more student-centered
learning experience such as group discussion.

The group discussion strategy often compliments
direct instruction. Discussion based learning allows for students to listen to
other viewpoints and ideas, express their thoughts, exchange ideas and reflect
on their own views and ideas. Group discussion can enable students to
think critically in order to evaluate, synthesize and analyses the topic. By
doing this students are using high order thinking skills to build on prior
learning and over come misconceptions. However, discussions can also lead to
further misconceptions if the students agree on the same error. The teacher
needs to be present in the discussion in order to subtly lead students in the
direction of the lessons learning objective. “Teachers questions during a
discussion should be used to help learners gain knowledge,” (Killen, 2009).
Teacher statements and questions should be included in the discussion in order
to guide students to answer each other’s questions and agree with others
student’s statements. Group discussion allows students to be reflective in
their own learning and by exercising higher order thinking skills also develop
student’s ability to problem solve.

Learning through problem solving, challenges
students to use higher order thinking skills to learn new information. Through
this strategy student are analysing, evaluating and creating how and what they
are learning. “By providing meaningful solutions to problems leads to deeper
understanding of the subject matter.” (Killen, 2009) The teacher in this
teaching strategy plays an instructor. The instructor can develop resources
that the students are to use however, how they use the information is up to the
students. This can be a limitation to the teaching strategy as Kirschner,
Sweller and Clark, 2006 suggest, that while the students are working
independently they can use the information from the resources and higher order
thinking skills to acquire misconceptions which they then return to their group
to explain, which later has to be unlearnt. In order to lead students away from
misconceptions, the teacher needs to organise, plan and “develop a suitable
problem or series of problem that can be used to help learners achieve the
desired outcomes,” (Killen, 2009). Teaching through problem solving
allows students to exercise higher order thinking and also increase student’s
communication skills in small groups.

Small group work can be a very effective teaching
strategy and creates an opportunity for higher order thinking to occur. Group
work allows the students to improve on their communication and problem solving
skills. By having the students work in smaller groups all students are given
the chance to listen to and voice their feelings and opinions on any issue,
(Killen, 2009) evaluate, analyse and reflect on their learning and on the topic
they are given. It is important that the topic is interesting to the students
and that they are in appropriate groups if order to create successful learning.
If students are not focused, the lesson will not be productive and students
will not use higher order thinking skills and therefore they will not gain a
deep understanding of the topic. In small group work it is the teachers duty to
guide the students to use their problem solving and higher order thinking
skills to an appropriate learning outcome. Using small group work in the
classroom also enhances cooperative learning by students.

Like small group work, cooperative learning is a
successful strategy in which, groups with varied ability of students work
together to deeper the understanding of the topic. According to King (2010),
“cooperative learning can be effective in the development of thinking skills.”
Students will analyse, evaluate and reflect on group and individual learning.
Students are to work together until they all have a clear understanding.

**“**Each member of a team is responsible not only for learning what is taught but also for helping teammates learn, thus creating an atmosphere of achievement,” (Johnson and Johnson, 2001). However, this can also be a limitation and can hinder students learning. If not all students contribute to the activity; the students will not be able to use higher order thinking skills, as the individual component of the task was not complete and not all information was acquired. This will cause gaps in the students understanding. If the students have been taught how, are motivated and focused on the task cooperative learning is an ideal strategy that requires students to use higher order thinking skills to obtain deep understanding.
Higher order thinking is extremely important for
students to use while completing activities that require deep understanding. By
using writing, direct instruction, discussion, problem solving, small group
work and cooperative learning strategies allow students to use these thinking
skills in their learning. “In helping students become producers of knowledge,
the teacher's main instructional task is to create activities or environments
that allow them opportunities to engage in higher-order thinking.” (Department
of Education, 2004).

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