Integrating Rich Tasks - Activity 1.2

Age 5 to 11
Article by Jennifer Piggott

Published 2011

To go back to the introduction to this series of professional development activities, click here

How can we encourage higher-order thinking skills?

To help to answer this question here are two tasks for you to do which we hope will help you to:
  • distinguish between problems that encourage higher-order thinking skills and problems which don't
  • develop problems of your own that support higher-order thinking skills
In this activity we shall focus on what we are looking for in our pupils when they are engaged in using higher-order thinking skills (HOTS).

You will need the following resources:

  • Set of cards for matching: HOTS1.doc
  • Document of strategies for modifying tasks: HOTS2.doc
The first task
  • The cards in HOTS1.doc contain some lower-order questions and, focusing on the same mathematical topic, some more challenging questions - ones that require higher-order thinking skills. Pair them up.

  • Now, with colleagues, answer the following questions:
    • What do you think higher-order thinking skills are?
    • What do tasks that encourage higher-order thinking skills look like?
      • Look at these notes on higher-order thinking skills and compare them with your ideas. Are there any major differences? What is your response to those differences?
      The second task
      • Instead of replacing a lower-order problem with a different problem, we can often modify it. How can we adapt lower-order maths problems so they promote HOTS? HOTS2.doc outlines four key strategies that will help to increase the challenge of standard questions in the classroom:
        • Here's the answer, what could the question be?
        • Make up your own ...
        • What if ...?
        • All answers
      • Look at a problem you have recently set one of your classes and discuss how it could be transformed into one requiring higher-order thinking skills. Jot down your ideas and keep them for Activity 2.2 .

      Return to the introduction
      Go back to Activity 1.1
      Move on to Activity 1.3