Monday, April 23, 2012

I've got my eyes set on H.O.T.S.

Countless of studies have shown that reading to children benefits not only their vocabulary but it also promotes Higher Order Thinking Skills (H.O.T.S.) namely applying, analyzing, evaluating and in extended reading activities, it also promotes creating. These are what Benjamin Bloom indicated in his Taxonomy of cognitive objectives. Simply put the taxonomy (which also includes remembering and understanding) reflects different forms of thinking from the simple to the complex. Instead of simply memorizing facts and ideas, Bloom’s taxonomy challenges educators to engage children in higher levels of thinking to reach their fullest potential. But how does this work in the home environment? How can we go beyond recalling information or explaining ideas and concepts to our children when a lot of times the interaction that we have with our children are more on giving directions, asking them to remember what was told, or to memorize new information?

I have reflected on this the past few days, not because I want to challenge myself with the online course that I am taking on Differentiation Strategies for the Gifted and Talented Education program from the University of California, Irvine Extension (wherein we are asked how the Bloom’s Taxonomy is evident in the classrooms). But, I preferred to reflect more on it to make the experience more meaningful. I could have easily managed to mention the many different ways that Early Childhood Educators move from the spectrum of remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating to creating. Believing in the progressive education philosophy where hands-on activities are promoted, the H.O.T.S. are hot in the ECE setting. But again the question, what about as parents? How can we set our eyes on H.O.T.S. at home and in our interaction with children?
Here’s a simple list of what came to my mind:

a. Ask open-ended questions- questions where there is more to say than just “yes” or “no”. After reading a book, we can ask children, why did the character act that way? What do you think might happen next? Has anything happened like this to you? What do you think should the character do? Or if going out to a new place, asking children “how is this place similar to where we were before?” or “what do you like about this place?”are simple ways to encourage remembering, understanding, analyzing and evaluating.

b. Ask your child about his/her day. We have now an ongoing routine at home where I ask our 5 year old daughter after picking her up from school the following questions: what did you do? what did you learn? And what question did you ask? We initially started with making her say 5 things she did today and then gradually moved to this questioning routine to get her to analyze her daily activities in school. It also encourages her to be asking questions more instead of just taking in information.

c. Provide opportunities for decision-making. Even the simplest of task like asking your child which would he/she prefer to wear (please do follow the rule of providing limited options) can be a good exercise in evaluation. Never be afraid to ask your child “why?” in the choices they make. Not only does it give an idea of their reasoning but it also gives us a better picture of their preferences. For older children decision-making questions like “why did you choose this over this?” or “what changes do you think you need to take?” tackle both evaluating and creating thinking skills.

d. Take a closer look at children’s play opportunities and materials. Children learn a lot from the interactions they have with adults and with other children and they also learn a lot from the materials we provide to them. Oftentimes it is so easy to bombard children with toys but do we really stop and ask ourselves as parents, what does this toy promote in my child’s thinking skills? So before buying another toy, look at how H.O.T.S. are promoted. Toys like blocks, legos, Knex etc. are good toys to practice CREATING thinking skills. Look for toys that are also open-ended (meaning have potential for different uses). Even Jenga doubles as a family game and the children’s construction toy in our family. To extend their learning through play, we refrain from just asking “what was it that you made?’ but also follows it up on,” what do you think would happen if this piece goes here?” why do you say that this creation is a ….?” “What makes it similar or different to the real one?” and if that’s not enough we do the last thing;

e. Encourage their H.O.T.S.. Following in the footsteps of one of my favorite blogs, Handsfree Mama, we also have 5 special words that we say to the children when they go create things, invent new moves or talk about new experiences and understanding, we love to say “I love how you think.”

Katie's "mountain top" 5 years old.

"Look Mama, a cube"- Milos 3.7 years old


  1. I enjoyed this post, Lana. Will you mind if I link it from my English website? I have a page on Bloom's taxonomy and I think this will add practical application to theory.

  2. hi Chie of course you can link it :) would you want some material also on Blooms with Multiple Intelligence? :)