When teaching a lesson, it is important that students be actively thinking in order to learn the material and connect it to their lives. Therefore, it is also important that teachers teach students how to think. There are four levels of thought for any given lesson: evaluation, synthesis, analysis and application. Learning how to incorporate these four levels of thought in a lesson plan will help every lesson be successful.
First Level of Thought: Evaluation of Information
The evaluation thought process for any lesson is the beginning building blocks for higher level thought. Skills that involve evaluation thinking include deciding, ranking, defending, verifying and critiquing. This is a basic level of thought that simply looks at the information for what it is. Reading about information, collecting some research on a topic and understanding the basics of the topic involve evaluation.
Connecting Information to Prior Knowledge: Synthesis of Information
To synthesize information, students must go beyond the basic information and do something with the knowledge. Students should use prior knowledge to connect to new knowledge during this synthesizing thought process. Some things that require a synthesis thought process include hypothesizing, inferring, predicting, imagining, estimating and inventing.
Teaching Students to Analyze Information
Analyzing information takes student thought to another level, requiring them to understand the basic information, connect it to their lives through synthesis and then extend that information to additional information. Activities that require students to use analysis include compare/contrast, creating an anthology, classifying information and sequencing information.
Application of Information to Student’s Life
The final level of thought that all teachers should strive to have their students achieve is that of application. To apply information learned to a new situation requires the highest level thought and understanding. Students who are capable of demonstrating, illustrating, generalizing or showing how to do something have effectively achieved this level of thought and understanding.
Using Levels of Thought For an Effective Lesson Plan
By incorporating each level of thought in a single lesson plan, any teacher will be able to ensure student learning. With only rare exceptions, lessons should be split into four sections, with an activity devoted to build each level of thought independently. Not taking the time to achieve the highest thought levels will result in partially learned material that may or may not stick with students and have any impact upon their lives.
Teachers should ensure that each lesson they teach includes a basic focus on each of four different levels of thought. Starting with an introduction, students will be required to utilize evaluation thought. Next, students should be encouraged to connect new knowledge to previous knowledge through synthesis. Deepening understanding comes through analysis and finally, students apply new knowledge to future experiences through application.