Higher Level Thinking Questions for Reading Video

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  • 0:00 What are High-Level…
  • 1:01 Using Higher-Order…
  • 2:19 Higher-Order Thinking…
  • 3:45 Higher-Order Thinking…
  • 5:20 Create, Evaluate, Analyze
  • 6:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde
Educational trends encourage the process of metacognition, or understanding one's own thinking. This requires a teacher to develop higher-level thinking questions. This lesson will help educators reach fluency in developing these kinds of questions.

What Are High-Level Thinking Questions?

High-level thinking questions give students a chance to use and apply skills they already know. Take a moment to consider lower-order thinking skills, such as memorization or recall. Although these skills take practice, they don't require the learner to engage in analytical thought. High-level thinking comes into play when students are asked to take their knowledge and use it in specific ways, like comparing, inferring, categorizing, connecting or debating. In this way, using high-order thinking questions gives teachers a chance to challenge student understanding.

A useful tool when developing high-order thinking questions is Blooms Taxonomy, a chart devised to categorize levels of thought. Refer to the chart when creating high-level thinking questions; focus on going beyond remembering and understanding, the lower two levels, and asking questions requiring students to apply, analyze, evaluate and create.

Using Higher-Order Thinking Questions When Reading

As readers, we all begin by trying to make sense of letter-sound relationships. Eventually, we understand phonics and develop a hefty set of sight word vocabulary. With that complete, we can begin reading text that requires us to understand the complexities of plot and other elements. To do this well, we need to implement new strategies in order to comprehend what we read.

Employing high-order thinking skills when reading fiction encompasses several primary areas. Obviously the reader thinks about about surface elements within a story, such as who's doing what; however, the student also engages in metacognition, which can be defined as thinking about one's own thinking. Metacognitive questions include:

  • Why is this character doing that?
  • How does this text make me feel?
  • Do I agree or disagree with this text?

In regard to nonfiction text, readers need to not only remember and understand important concepts, such as names and dates, but also how these facts relate to the larger picture. For example, in addition to knowing Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865, a reader using higher-order skills will be able to communicate the impact of the event in differing ways. Let's take a look at more specific strands for fiction and nonfiction texts.

Higher-Order Thinking for Fictional Text

Using higher-order questions for reading means you're asking students to understand what they read in several ways: retelling facts, inferring meaning and evaluating intentions. As a teacher, asking your reader to move beyond simple recall prompts a deeper connection to characters and plot, reinforcing skills that allow the reader to engage with the text on a deeper level. Consider some of the following typical high-order thinking questions for fiction.

Questions within the text are questions like:

  • What was the problem in the story?
  • How was the problem solved?
  • What did the characters in the story enjoy?

Questions beyond the text include:

  • Why did the character make this choice?
  • How did the character's feelings change?
  • What was surprising about the end of the story?
  • What does this story remind you of?

Finally, we come to questions about the text. These questions are often more involved and can include questions such as:

  • What did the main character learn?
  • What was the most important part of the story?
  • Why did the author choose the title?
  • Do you agree with how the author chose to end the story?

Notice the questions become more complex as students look outside the story. Although it appears the questions build upon each other, try not to ask them in a sequential order. Instead, ask questions from each category equally to support understanding of how each level relies on the other.

Higher-Order Thinking for Nonfiction Text

The curricular emphasis within schools has shifted from fiction to nonfiction in the past several years. As we prepare students for real-world experiences, we want to provide the tools necessary to navigate within our local and global communities. Because our everyday lives require us to understand and think about nonfiction much more than fiction, teachers need to pay special attention to instructing students on how to think about their thinking when reading nonfiction. What's the word again? Oh yeah - metacognition.

For nonfiction text, questions within the text consist of:

  • What important dates are in the text?
  • What important facts are in the text?
  • What did you learn from the text features (photos, graphs, charts)?
  • What did certain vocabulary words mean?

When looking beyond the text, the following are some helpful questions:

  • What makes _ important?
  • What impact do you think this event had on history?
  • What does it mean that we now understand _?
  • How does knowing this information change your opinion?

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