What Bloom can do for you!

September 9, 2015


A colleague of mine once said: CLIL is all about teaching students both higher language as well as higher thinking skills.

I agree.

Yet, implementing that into our everyday lessons is a challenge for many of us. Or at least for me.

So, in this post I want to talk about different thinking skills and how to apply them to your lesson.


The most famous researcher on thinking skills is without a doubt Benjamin Bloom. Together with other educators he devised the taxonomy of thinking skills, which is the foundation of the way we learn.

There has been some controversy about Bloom’s ideas and he himself has revised the taxonomy a couple of times. However, the general ideas are still valid and can help you to develop both engaging and interesting activities for your students.

Lots and Hots

In multiple books on CLIL the abbreviations LOTS and HOTS are commonly used. LOTS stands for Lower Order Thinking Skills and HOTS for Higher Order Thinking Skills (you didn’t see that one coming did you? ;))

The LOTS are the lower three skills defined by Bloom’s Taxonomy: Remembering, Understanding and Applying.

HOTS are three higher level skills: Analyze, Evaluate and Create.

Order of skills?

Despite the fact that the thinking skills are often presented in pyramid form, the lower skills are not always necessary to be able to work with the higher ones.

Gifted students might be able to analyze a system with ease, figuring out what is missing or even create something on their own altogether. However, the same students might have a hard time remembering simple facts.

I myself am way better at applying formulas than at learning French words for example (and I am sure I am not the only one!)

So, don’t worry about structuring your activities or lessons from the bottom up. You can use all of these skills to create lessons with a lot of variety!


This is basically whatever students can learn by heart and have to reproduce in exactly the same way.

Reproducing facts, formulas and opinions are a vital part of education and should be both instructed and tested regularly.

Some keywords you can use when you want to apply this skill are: Identify, Name, List, Remember or Recognize.


Just remembering what has been learned is not enough. Students also have to understand what they have just learned.

It is easy to test if students understand what you have just explained. Just ask them to rephrase the information in their own words. If they cannot do that, it’s quite likely they did not get what you thought them.

Words that can be used to identify this skill are categorize, explain, describe, summarize or classify.


When a student has learned something new and has to apply this in a new situation. This can be applying a grammar rule in a sentence or calculating an assignment for physics.

In other words, with remembering you learn the rules, with applying you use them.

Key terms for this skill are: construct, calculate, implement, solve or edit


Your students have achieved a certain level of understanding at this point and are ready for the first HOTS.

Analyzing material means that students look at specific parts of the content and discuss the significance of this part in contrast with other parts.

For example, you can ask your students to sort out different sets of grammar rules at the ” understanding”  phase. To make this into an “analyze” assignment, you can ask students to come up with categories on their own.

Typical words that are used with this skill are compare, contrast, structure, examine or reverse engineer.


Not everything students learn is based on facts. Quite often, students have to make up their own minds about content and base their opinion on arguments.

At other times students might have to decide whether what they predict will happen will actually happen.

Students might even have to look back at their own role in a process and provide feedback on each other.

This is all evaluation: check validity and base an opinion

Words that can be used in combination with this skill are hypothesize, predict, test or check.


The final and probably most difficult thinking skill.

Using whatever students have learned so far, they have to come up with an application on their own.

This can be different in environment, in design or in application. It doesn’t really matter. Key is that students have to be creative and combine whatever they have learned so far.

Key terms are compose, devise, imagine, invent or design


A rather long read (again). Sorry about that!

I hope you found this interesting. I will write more about Bloom in the future, but this small summary might is hopefully enough to trigger your thoughts on the topic and help you identify how you can apply this to your lesson.

Let me know your ideas on this in the comments below!

Recommended reading

Want to read more on the topic? Below are a few links to helpful websites





  • I´ve already used your Bloom can do within one workshop in Sept. and the teachers have found that really inspiring.

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