The Way Lesson Planning Can Foster Higher Order Thinking

Higher order thinking is something that only a very small percentage of students actually know how to do upon leaving high school. Because of the traditional educational model, which focuses much more on getting a C and pushing kids to the next grade, we are raising a generation of children and young adults  who do not know how to use higher order thinking to their advantage. The solution is not to enroll them in fancy schools that offer the chance  to provide a better education as long as you can pay for it, but for making three basic alterations to the traditional academic lesson plan.

1.Make sure a classroom has a flawless instructional design:

What is instructional design? Instructional design can be defined as the science of creating detailed specifications for the design, development, evaluation, and maintenance of instructional material that facilitates learning and performance. The efficiency of  the instructional design of a class can be evaluated by following the ADDIE process. ADDIE stands for analysis, development, design, implementation, and evaluation. (Martin,2011)

A) During the analysis phase, it is up to the teacher to find out where each individual student falls on their existing knowledge, and to set a realistic goal for each individual student to achieve by the end of the class year.

D) The design phase documents specific learning objectives, the instructional material, practice activities, feedback from the practice activities, instructional strategies, and assessments. Essentially, now that an analysis of your students is complete, what are the best learning tools to implement? Depending on the class demographic, certain tools may be beyond comprehension, or too basic.

D) The development phase is considered to be the most important of all. The development phase is the step where all the data collected from the design phase gets put together. For example, certain class groups will show more comfort with project based learning as opposed to the standard learn and regurgitate model. So knowing this, how does the teacher develop projects into their lesson plan?

I) The Implementation phase begins once the school year begins. The implementation phase bears a whole lot of trial and error. Although the teacher might have gone into the school year with this group thinking they would respond to project based learning, perhaps it was discovered with exposure to the lesson plan that the students appear to learn best from discussion and debate. Alter the development plan accordingly. No need to go all the way back to square one, just use the data collected from analysis and design to approach the class in a different development pattern.

E) Last comes the evaluation phase. The evaluation phase consists of two parts: formative and summative. Formative evaluation is present in each stage of the ADDIE process. Constant revision of the ADDIE model. Summative evaluation consists of tests designed for getting feedback from the users. The “users” are the students, as well as the administration. It’s always good to see if your ADDIE model can be used to help other teachers. (,2013)

2.  Take some time away from standardized testing to focus more on collaborative activities that challenge students to participate:

I could refer the reader to several well written blog posts from my peers on collaborative activities. I’m going to focus more on the third and final point.

3. There are four levels of learning. The two most basic levels are the ones focused on in traditional education. How do we reach level three and four? 

To begin, level one of learning is recall. This is put to test by your basic multiple choice test. Standardized testing weeds out the students who are best at recall. These students are able to shoot all the way to post secondary with relative ease. The second level of learning is represent. This takes the student through the process of short and long answer style test questions. In my experience, many students dislike this sort of question style because it allows them to “have to think”.  Representation is only a step above recall because you can memorize and regurgitate this style of question too.

The last two kinds of learning are much more in depth, and focus on developing the students’ higher order function. The third step is seldom involved in a middle school classroom, let alone a post-secondary institution. Level three is analyze/reason. Grade twelve reading comprehension tests come the closest in standardized testing to achieve analysis and reason. “Given the following passage, write an essay on the connection between character and consciousness.” Now we’re getting somewhere. Here’s an extended list of questions that can be asked at the middle school level to develop this level of learning: Compare and contrast, Determine patterns, analyze relationships, analyze viewpoints, construct argument, evaluate, infer, deduce. The fourth level of learning is seldom even reached. The fourth level of learning is apply. This is what we do in Jesse’s class. Take what we have learned in these academic articles, write a comprehensive blog post, and share what you have learned with the greater psychology 3850 class. They give you feedback, and you answer questions they ask you. This fosters higher-order thinking. Other examples are: generating ideas, problem solving, decision making, investigating, experimentation. (, 2014)


Martin, F. (2011). Instructional Design and the Importance of Instructional Alignment. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 35(12), 955–972.

Sulaiman, T., Ayub, A. F. M., & Sulaiman, S. (2015). Curriculum Change in English Language Curriculum Advocates Higher Order Thinking Skills and Standards-Based Assessments in Malaysian Primary Schools. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences.



3 thoughts on “The Way Lesson Planning Can Foster Higher Order Thinking

  1. Great post, Anthony! I really enjoyed the step-by-step process on achieving higher order thinking in the classroom. I was wondering how would you find out how the students preferred to learn in the implementation phase. Would you straight up ask them which method of learning they prefer or would that be something the teacher later discovered after getting to know the students?


    • Yes. The implementation phase is one which can be altered as the year goes on. So first of all, in the analysis phase, the teacher will test the students to find out how much information they know already. Then, by consulting the teachers they had the year before, I (the teacher) would have a general idea of what learning plans work best for what students. Once the actual students are actually learning in your ADDIE lesson plan, it might be apparent that certain learning methods would suit certain students better. The ADDIE lesson plan only works with cooperation from administration, as well as cooperation with fellow teachers. If it was implemented however, it could foster a perfect learning environment.


  2. Fancy finding this here! It would be a bit redundant for me to compliment you on the content and structure of your blog, but it’s worth noting again that you’ve produced another example of top-notch content. I think that yesterday’s blog is the only blog that I’ve written this term and been remotely satisfied by. Your blogs always inspire me to do a better job, though. I like the idea of using the ADDIE, another thing of which I previously was completely unaware, especially because it seems to have a results-based self-correction mechanism. I like the idea of the development plan changing to meet the best expected outcomes of the learners, too. It was neat to consider the levels of learning as well. All of this was very helpful and gets the wheels turning as we all approach the final project. Thanks again for another great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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