1) What is Higher-Order Thinking Skills?
Higher-order thinking is a concept of Education reform based on learning taxonomies such as Bloom's Taxonomy. The idea is that some types of learning require more cognitive processing than others, but also have more generalized benefits. In Bloom's taxonomy, for example, skills involving analysis, evaluation and synthesis (creation of new knowledge) are thought to be of a higher order, requiring different learning and teaching methods, than the learning of facts and concepts. Higher order thinking involves the learning of complex judgmental skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. Higher order thinking is more difficult to learn or teach but also more valuable because such skills are more likely to be usable in novel situations (i.e., situations other than those in which the skill was learned).

2) How to Teach Higher Level Thinking Skills?

-Teaching higher level thinking skills is critical, especially with high stakes testing. Having the time to help all students master the learning objectives that they will be tested over can take up almost every minute. Education is sometimes accused of teaching the test and educators themselves lament that they feel like their hands are tied and that they are not given the opportunity to really teach more creative thinking. However, there are techniques that can ensure the best of both worlds in the same limited amount of time.
i) Teach higher level thinking skills to students by incorporating higher order thought processes into everyday instruction. This follows Bloom's taxonomy. Start out with information giving and ask students for recall and comprehension. Then ask students to apply information. Ask them to analyze it and critically evaluate it and so forth. Processing information in this way uses higher level thinking skills.

ii) Ask students to debate information. Students could even be required to take a side that they do not necessarily agree with. This helps to teach them to look at other perspectives and critically evaluate information.

iii) Teach students to categorize information in a variety of ways. Also ask them to look for relationships,
to form generalizations about information, and to analyze information and find solutions to problems. They should also be asked to infer outcomes. These things require students to use inductive reasoning
 and deductive reasoning which are higher level thought processes.

iv) Require students to apply information they have learned to real life situations, such as decision making
by legislatures, parenting, social decision making, home living, financial decisions, etc.

3) How to Develop Critical Thinking Skills in Children?
 - Critical thinking is a skill that children need to be taught. Critical thinks skills allow children to use reasoning and think creatively to solve a problem. While these skills are not obtained overnight, they are developed over time with the help of teachers and parents. By following a specific plan, teachers and parents can help develop these skills in kids.
i) Have children analyze stories after they read them. Have them answer questions about particular character's motivation and possible history. By doing this, you are asking them to look beyond what is written on the page.

ii) Encourage group activities. When children on working together, they are able to watch how each person solves problems. They can also bring up ideas and opinions that another child may have not thought of.

iii)  Do not ask questions that can simply be answered with "yes" or "no." Ask questions that require more thought-out answers.

iv) Constantly ask your child for their opinion on why something is the way it is. Instead of just answering the question for them, you can help them come to the answer on their own.

4) How do I Develop Deductive Reasoning & Critical-Thinking Skills?
The development of critical-thinking skills is important in children and adults. Deductive reasoning is a subset of critical thinking. Critical thinking can also be called evaluative thinking, according to the American Scientific Affiliation. It is the ability to solve problems and draw conclusions with limited data. Deductive reasoning is the part of critical thinking that allows for problem solving.
i) Complete puzzles. This is an excellent way to put your critically thinking mind to work. Word puzzles, riddles and even math word problems sharpen the mind and critical-thinking skills.

ii) Solve a Sudoku. This is another form of puzzle that exercises the mind.

iii) Utilize Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats. He teaches to picture a given situation like an island and divide the island into north, south, east and west quadrants. Focus on each direction separately. Using this method allows you to notice and retain details in each smaller area, essentially breaking down a situation to allow for individual observations. He states that confusion is the enemy of good thinking skills.

iv) Start young. The earlier critical thinking is taught, the better an individual will progress. But even an elderly person can train his mind to take an evaluative approach to any matter or problem.

5) What Activities Can Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills?
Educators are always looking for ways to promote critical thinking in their pupils However, critical thinking isn't just for students. Parents, doctors, engineers, teachers -- everyone can benefit from a flexible line of thinking. Critical thinking involves taking previously known facts and expanding, connecting and challenging them. Even if you are not in a classroom, you can practice these skills practically anywhere.
  • Practice analytical thinking as often as possible. This involves mentally breaking down a structure and examining its parts. For example, consider a charismatic person and try to determine how her personality traits compose her overall charm. In addition, always look for patterns and use them to make predictions. You can find patterns while watching television shows, reading a book or reflecting on specific behaviors of people in your life.
  • Rather than being a passive listener, learn to question information given to you. You should especially question statements that involve "never" or "always." For example, if someone claims, "Humpback whales never feed in the winter," you should conduct your own research before accepting the statement as a fact. Not only will this strategy develop critical thinking skills, but it will also prevent you from blindly following your peers.
Create and Connect
  • Be creative. Write fiction, sketch images and make music. When you're finished, look for connections between your work and the works of others.
  • Work in a group setting and hold discussions with peers. By listening to the opinions of others, you will learn to explore alternative perspectives and practice objective thinking. If you follow a certain religion or belong to a political party, open your ears to people on the other side of the fence. 
  • Learn to reflect on your own long-held beliefs and habits. Challenge yourself by exploring your own weaknesses and oversights. You might be surprised to find hidden biases or preferences.
Play Games
  • Play games that involve logical thinking. Chess, for example, requires you to form a plan while anticipating your opponent's next move. Riddles and brain teasers are other options to improve your critical thinking.

6) How to Do Creative Problem Solving Activities?
Creative problem solving activities provide students with an opportunity to learn while interacting with peers in fun and engaging activities. If you are a teacher, you already know that kids learn best when they are actively involved in the process, but you also know its sometimes difficult to devise lessons and plans that are interactive and educational due to other demands on your time or difficulties with scheduling. The good news is there are plenty of resources available with lessons and activities that have already been designed and are just ready for you to use. The great part is many of them are absolutely free. Read on to learn how to do creative problem solving activities.
a ) Take some time to think about exactly what it is you want your students to learn from the experience. This will help you refine where you look for resources and will prevent you from wasting valuable time searching for activities that are not appropriate for your needs.

b ) Visit helpful websites sites to search for activities that match your educational goals and the age group of your students. Great sources for materials include Cloudnet, Learning-for-Life, Wilderdom and The Problem Site. See the Resources section for links.

c ) Click on a source and read it thoroughly to be sure you understand the procedure and the expected outcome. Evaluate the source for age appropriateness and completeness. Consider the dynamics of your particular class before choosing an activity.

d ) Print, or save to your computer, any activities you would like to try or that you think will appropriate for later lessons. Make any changes to fit your particular needs.

e ) Consider creating a creative problem solving book to hold your lesson plans and activities.

f ) Create a cover sheet for each activity tying it to the content standards of your state, and the planned lesson and unit.

g ) Place the cover sheet and the lesson plan in plastic sheet protectors and add to a loose leaf notebook. Be sure to label the notebook for easy retrieval.

h ) Place dividers for separate subjects or divisions if you teach more than one subject of more than one division of a class and place the appropriate lessons and plans in the section.

i ) Be sure to make notes on the original sheet of the success of the activity. Note any changes you would make before trying this lesson again. Even though you think you will remember, chances are you won't unless you put it in writing.

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