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Higher-order Thinking Online Lesson Adapted from “Skill and Drill” Lesson Using EASyR


This exercise demonstrates adapting a lesson plan steeped in lower-order thinking to an online one requiring higher-order thinking skills.  There is no judgement here; thinking skills are neutral in importance and all have power and position.  We need them all.  According to Bloom's Taxonomy, the go-to organizer of thinking skills, Remembering, Understanding, and Applying, the lowest in the taxonomy, are the least complex thinking skills.  Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating, the highest orders of thinking in the taxonomy, are more complex skills.  (See the Bloom's bloom illustration below.  Bloom's was re-evaluated itself fairly recently; the illustration below reflects the older taxonomy.  Since then, nouns were changed to gerunds (-ing words) and Synthesis and Evaluation were switched so the taxonomy now goes like this:  Remembering, Understanding, and Applying; ends in Analyzing, Evaluating and then Creating.)









































Illustration from



A lesson applying the lower levels of the taxonomy are not necessarily unwise, but, just for "fun," I am again taking a risk (even after that "trouble"shooting challenge!) and choosing a rote lesson to which to apply the more complex thinking skills.  I would like to demonstrate how learning the multiplication tables could become more fun.  I will use the EASyR critical thinking method to do so.  EASyR is the method developed by Kay Lehmann and Lisa Chamberlin (2009) and referred to in our textbook which applies critical thinking skills to encourage deeper learning.  It refers to the following attributes:


E – Evaluate

A – Analyze

S – Synthesize

R – Review, Reflect, or Revise.


While these attributes are similar to thinking skills noted in Bloom’s Taxonomy, their purpose is not to denote higher-order thinking skills (although critical thinking is itself a highly complex and higher-order thinking skill); rather, EASyR is meant to encourage, model and teach critical thinking skills.  


The students in this model are elementary school teachers, referred to here as student teachers, who teach blended and flipped classes.  They are enrolled in online professional development classes to learn how to adapt F2F curricula to eLearning, which requires interactivity and critical thinking to be as truly exciting as it can be.  The one referred to in the model as teacher is delivering the lesson plan models.  It is understood that due to the age of many of these elementary school teachers' students the blended learning environment is necessary as their students may be too young or inexperienced to operate computers on their own or at home.

To adapt a "skill and drill" lesson by applying higher-order thinking skills to the lower-order ones using the EASyR critical thinking method, I will be starting with Leslie Owen Wilson’s analysis (2015) called the “Madeline Hunter Lesson Plan Model, or Drill that Skill – A Model of Repetition and Direct Instruction.” 


According to Ms. Wilson's report about Ms. Hunter’s drill and skill lesson, two aspects stand out:  One, that it is much easier to learn something correctly the first time than to have to unlearn a mistake and then re-learn it -- which, interestingly, is based on brain science; and Two, that sometimes a teacher will wish to forego a more sophisticated approach to learning and simply focus on the basics of direct instruction or drills (practice), such as this lesson plan.  

Ms. Hunter's method was based on the science showing us that the brain as it learns lays down neural pathways.  The more a thought is repeated, or "drilled," the deeper the neural pathways are grooved into the brain and the harder it becomes to unlearn it, so it is really important to begin with correct facts.  This drill and skill method is useful for when direct instruction, rote memorization, and practice or drills are deemed necessary.  It could be an excellent model to use, for example, in memorizing multiplication tables or vocabulary or historical dates.


My purpose is to use the EASyR method to facilitate student teachers creating lessons where their students have ownership of and thus more fun with learning the multiplication tables as they create and play a simple online game of memorizing and mastering times tables.  I believe these elementary teachers’ eLearning students will therefore enjoy and more easily master and remember the multiplication tables through the critical thinking processes they engage in on this project.


Following is the adapted model I have developed that still retains the initial objective of memorizing through practice; it just gets more creative than that.  The student teachers are elementary teachers taking a professional development class about learning to apply critical thinking skills to create eLearning curricula!  My objective in this model is to facilitate student teachers in transforming the face-to-face (F2F) rote learning of multiplication tables by adapting it for elementary students into a more creative and challenging online experiential learning process using the EASyR higher-order thinking strategies.  Feel free to use the scroll bar to see this whole lesson, or download it.  




















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Illustration – Bloom’s Taxonomy: Learning in Action.  Retrieved 8/16/15 from


Lehmann, K. & Chamberlin, L. (2009). Making the move to eLearning: Putting your course online. Rowman and Littlefield: Lanham, Maryland.


Wilson, L. O. (2015). “Madeline Hunter Lesson Plan Model Or Drill That Skill – A model of repetition and direct instruction.”  Retrieved 8/16/15 from The Second Principle at

Reflection:  This exercise is about adapting a lesson steeped in lower-order thinking skills to one requiring higher-order thinking skills.  Based on the feedback I received I revised the writing completely so as to clarify the point of the lesson, its purpose, the students being taught, and the directions themselves.  I made the discussion of the original lesson much more concise and clarified the writing based on the feedback I received from the Amazing Dr. Kay.  In this process of upgrading my "upgraded" lesson based on feedback, I learned to trust my skills and knowledge as an online teacher a great deal more than I had been.  It seems that much of what I'm learning is about not downgrading my experience, skills and knowledge anymore, but upgrading them in my own mind and trusting my own analysis.  Conciseness is ever wavering in its balance with thoroughness; however, I'm learning to trust my discernment of that balance.  My intent is to make these exercises understandable to children and adults.


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