Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tip 30 Use HOTS in AP Economics

Summary: Higher Order Thinking Skills.

One of my favorite movies is Jurassic Park where dinosaurs run amok on an island terrorizing the visitors. In one scene a cow is lowered into a caged area where velociraptors are kept. The team of doctors are waiting for the cow to be devoured but noting happens. One of the characters says, "Velociraptor does not want to be fed. Velociraptor wants to hunt."

My AP students don't want to be "fed" memorization and recall questions they want to think.

Presumably, Higher Order Thinking Skills, HOTS, stimulate a higher level of thinking; HOTS are on the top of Bloom's Taxonomy; using HOTS prepares students for the 21st Century. I have dogmatically been told in teacher training to infuse these skills into my classroom in order to prepare students for a global economy. Since HOTS have been around education since 1980, I thought my teacher trainers were simply parroting what they heard. Does a lesson plan that is top heavy with HOTS prepare students for the 21st Century?

In Muscatine, we are fortunate to have an industrial base that has insulated us from recessionary pressures since WWII. For example, HNI is a Fortune 500 business. We also have Bandag, Heinz, MUSCO Lighting, and many more. My students would often graduate and go to work for one of these manufacturing firms. In the last five years, manufacturing jobs have disappeared in the United States and around the world. As factors migrate to low cost countries and automation replaces unskilled labor, the United States has shifted from manufacturing to a service based economy. Many services require a high level of learning characterized by HOTS. Students who have been challenged with HOTS are better able to adapt to disruptive technology and adapt to a rapidly changing job skills. At HNI, they have won Baldridge awards for the RCI--Rapid Continuous Improvement--model. So it seems that even manufacturers require their workforce to use the HOTS.

In my classroom, I find it necessary to have the HOTS questions written out in advance. When I try to ask questions on-the-fly, I almost always ask a rote, memorization or comprehension question.

If you use the HOTS in your classroom, you will prepare your students for the AP Microeconomics, the AP Macroeconomics, and the workforce.

About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, IA. He blos at Mikeroeconomics.


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