Subject specific examples of higher order thinking skills

May 4, 2021


Applying Bloom’s taxonomy is something that should be part of any CLIL lesson in my opinion. Or even any lesson, CLIL or not. But actually doing that can pose a challenge for many teachers. In this post I want to share some examples to apply higher order thinking skills to your lesson.

Estimated time to read this article: 4 minutes

What are Higher order thinking skills?

I will not go into to much detail here, as I have written a blog post on 'what Bloom can do for you' before.

However, just so we are on the same page here, let’s quickly go over the three higher order thinking skills.


The ‘lowest’ of the three higher order thinking skills as define by Bloom’s taxonomy. (more on the ordering itself in a minute)

This skill is all about taking a look at something and identifying the different elements and taking a better look at it.

In other words: you go into detail to analyse a situation. Scaffolding is key here, as it can help students to narrow done on specific elements you want them to focus on.


This skill is all about developing an opinion on something.


This skill is like the opposite of ‘analysing’. Instead of looking at the details of a whole product, this time different elements are put together to create something new.

Be aware though: if students create something according to a clear set of instructions, this is not really ‘creating’ but rather ‘applying’, which is a lower order thinking skill.

Key Take Away

These are Analysing, Evaluating and Creating

Stacking the thinking skills

An image that is often used within the context of Bloom’s  taxonomy is a pyramid, suggesting that the lower three thinking skills have to be mastered before the higher order ones can be applied.

This is not the case.

Actually, when Bloom’s taxonomy got revised in 2001, one of the changes was to keep the hierarchical structure but “not as rigidly as in the original Taxonomy” (Krathwohl, 20011). One of the reasons was to “allow the categories to overlap”, but the six skills were still put on a ‘scale from simple to complex’.

In other words: although the higher order thinking skills might be more complex compared to lower order thinking skills, one does not necessarily need to master those first.

A great example of this are gifted students: those with an very high IQ. These students often excel at creativity and analysing, but have a harder time actually memorizing things because they barely ever had to in their life.

Key Take Away

The lower order thinking skills DO NOT need to be mastered before the higher order thinking skills can be applied.

Subject specific examples of higher order thinking skills

Okay, so far for the more theoretical approach, let’s discuss the examples promised!

On more note: These are all examples, but if you feel they might be explained in a different way, belonging to a different skill, do let me know.

I recently had an interesting discussion with Phil Ball on this topic, as he righteously stated there will always be discussion on the verbs associated with the different skills.  (LINK)

Even though they do make Bloom’s taxonomy more applicable.

Analysing: Science & English

  1. 1
    Science: Predict the results of a scientific experiment and explain why. Afterwards, perform the experiment and analyse what did and did not go according to plan.
  2. 2
    English: Read an article or watch a video clip and look for discrepancies in the author’s reasoning.

Evaluating: P.E. & History

  1. 1
    P.E.: Discuss a series of rules for an lesser known or even fictional game and argue why certain rules might or might not work. For example offside with football or the point distribution with basketball or tennis
  2. 2
    History: Choose a side in a historical event with multiple parties involved and from that point of view, determine the best course of action to take. Justify this with arguments.

Creating: Maths, Geography & Social studies

  1. 1
    Maths: Design a house with a set of criteria, and draw the different perspectives of this house.  (This is something I personally did as a project in class multiple years in a row)
  2. 2
    Geography: Brainstorm on possible ways the school could be more environmental friendly, create a poster presentation with arguments and research based on criteria.
  3. 3
    Social studies: Organise a class evening.


I hope these ideas triggered you into coming up with applications for your subject.

Have ideas yourself?

Do share so we can learn from each other!

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