Thinking frameworks help teachers analyze the various levels of student thinking that are present in lessons, tasks, and assessments. Knowing how to practically apply these frameworks in day-to-day instruction and lesson planning, however, can be tricky. In this article, we’ve sketched out several examples for how to apply two of these helpful frameworks: Bloom’s Taxonomy and Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO).

Vary Tasks Based on Thinking Level

Integrating critical thinking within classroom instruction offers students a wide range of opportunities to develop students’ capacity to process information across all content areas. Thinking levels can be increased with basic tweaks to content prompts, leading to higher levels and deeper levels of thought. By matching tasks to Bloom’s Taxonomy, teachers can present students with practice at a variety of thinking levels.

Task prompts for Bloom's Taxonomy

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Stimulate Thinking with Questions

Both the teacher and the students can employ question stems to create questions that stimulate high-order cognitive processes. Teachers often use question stems to plan higher-level questions for lessons. Likewise, students might use the stems to develop questions for class discussions. Teaching students how to compose quality questions can enhance content understanding and encourage self-inquiry. Sample question stems are featured in Figure 2.

Higher-level question stems

Differentiate Instruction with Tiered Learning

As schools integrate critical-thinking tasks in today’s diverse classrooms, students are at different learning levels and require multiple levels of scaffolding. Tiered assignments are parallel tasks at varied levels of complexity and depth although the essential learning is the same. Lessons can be tiered by increasing the level of task complexity. See Figure 3 for an example of a tiered-learning task.

Tiered learning task example