Higher Order Thinking with iPads (1)

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Dr. Mark Leon WinegariPads are arriving in South Dakota's schools and our teachers are wondering how they might best use these innovative tools in their classrooms? The key is to look through the technology rather than "at it" to find your own answers. 

I'm often asked, "how can I promote higher order thinking skills using iPads?" We often hear this term "higher order thinking skills" but what does it mean? 

"Higher order thinking skills include critical, logical, reflective, metacognitive, and creative thinking. They are activated when individuals encounter unfamiliar problems, uncertainties, questions, or dilemmas. Successful applications of the skills result in explanations, decisions, performances, and products that are valid within the context of available knowledge and experience and that promote continued growth in these and other intellectual skills." (King). 

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.


Bloom's Taxonomy (Creative Commons)Bloom's taxonomy (1956) lists six distinct ways of knowing; knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The latter three are essential to "higher order" thinking. 

Our task then is to explore ways in which the iPad and its software may support and/or enhance each one. But first we need a common understanding of what these terms mean.


Examine and break information into parts by identifying motives or causes. Make inferences and find evidence to support generalizations

  • Analysis of elements
  • Analysis of relationships
  • Analysis of organizational principles

Questions like: List four ways of serving foods made with apples and explain which ones have the highest health benefits. Provide references to support your statements. (wikipedia)

Higher Order Thinking Skills (Creative Commons)Synthesis

Compile information together in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative solutions

  • Production of a unique communication
  • Production of a plan, or proposed set of operations
  • Derivation of a set of abstract relations

Questions like: Convert an "unhealthy" recipe for apple pie to a "healthy" recipe by replacing your choice of ingredients. Explain the health benefits of using the ingredients you chose vs. the original ones. (wikipedia)


Present and defend opinions by making judgments about information, validity of ideas or quality of work based on a set of criteria

  • Judgments in terms of internal evidence
  • Judgments in terms of external criteria

Questions like: Do you feel that serving apple pie for an after school snack for children is healthy? (wikipedia)

Technology alone cannot instill these talents in our students but I'm certain we will discover many ways in which iPads can help. We'll explore some of these in upcoming blog entries.

Please feel free to contribute your ideas too! As Red Green says, "We're all in this together!". Please email your suggestions directly.


King, F. J., Goodson, L., & Rohank, F. Higher Order Thinking Skills. Educational Services Program. Florida State University. http://www.cala.fsu.edu/files/higher_order_thinking_skills.pdf.

National Research Council. (1987). Education and learning to think (p. 8). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

wikipedia. Bloom's Taxonomy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomy_of_Educational_Objectives.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.

Dr. Winegar is available to help your organization wisely use technology. Email him directly at mark.winegar@mac.com or visit www.facebook.com/MobileLearningStudio.