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Higher-Order Thinking Playground — Engage in Critical Creative Thinking Activities and Resources!

Pennsylvania Convention Center, Playground A

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Education Manager
Supervisor of Educational Technology
Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12
ISTE Certified Educator
Nicole is the Supervisor of Educational Technology at Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12 in PA and former middle school ELA teacher. With an expertise in educational tech frameworks, STEM, and CS, Nicole is also an ISTE Certified Educator and Trainer who is passionate about the use of technology to connect students to others in an effort grow empathy and empower learning. Nicole is the Secretary of the Susquehanna Valley CSTA. She's been in education 17 years, has a BSED from West Chester University, MLA from McDaniel College, and ITS & Admin Cert from York College.
K12 Education Manager
Charlie Fitzpatrick has been K12 Education Manager for Esri, makers of GIS software, since 1992. In this role, he works with K12 students, teachers, and leaders of education and policy in schools, districts, and states, helping them grasp why and how to take advantage of Esri's offer of software and learning resources free to K12 schools for instructional use. Prior to Esri, Charlie taught social studies in grades 7-12 for 15 years, mostly 8th grade geography.
Education Change Agent
Carly has worked in education for fifteen years as a teacher and educational technology trainer. Carly has a B.S. in Secondary Education – Language Arts from the University of Cincinnati, is a Google Certified Educator and Microsoft Innovative Educator and has earned a Blackboard Catalyst Award for work on content creation and online instruction. Currently, Carly teaches language arts and history courses at the Davidson Academy Online and continues to develop online courses and content.
Educational Technology Staff Developer
Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12
ISTE Certified Educator
Abbey is a member of the Educational Technology Services team at Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12. Abbey works as a staff developer providing professional development and support in educational technology, STEM, and Computer Science to educators in South Central Pennsylvania. A former social studies teacher, Abbey approaches all subjects with a global and humanitarian mindset.
Chief Academic Officer
Dr. Stacy Hawthorne is the Creative Services Manager for Clarity Innovations and an experienced educational strategist having implemented blended and online learning programs in public, parochial, and independent schools across the U.S. Dr. Hawthorne is a licensed math, history, and gifted education teacher and school administrator. Her doctorate is in Educational Technology and her dissertation focused on perceptions of students taking online courses. She holds a CETL certification from CoSN and is an ISTE Community Leader.
Professional Development. Gifted Ed, Tech Integration, Regular Ed
Minot, ND
Julie Jaeger, PD Coach/Consultant, Veteran Elem-MS educator, Tech Integrator, and Gifted Instructor, enjoys bringing "a-ha" moments and higher order thinking via Tech Integration, Differentiated Instruction, Digital StoryTelling, and Curriculum Enrichment using Critical Creative Thinking, Problem Solving, and Questioning. Authored "I-imagine Dares Students to be Their Best Selves" (ISTE Learning and Leading, June/July 2013) and received the 2016 Digital StoryTelling Creativity Leadership Award. Currently ISTE Community Leader and ND Association for Gifted Children Board member. Former Chair of the ISTE Digital StoryTelling Network. Holds an MS in Education with Technology Integration and Credential in Gifted Education.
Education Consultant
Learn 21
Kimberly McClain - Kimberly holds a doctorate in Educational Technology and Leadership and spent five years as the assistant principal of a newly formed virtual high school. In this role, she collaborated to design many of the systems that have led to its current success several years later. Kimberly has also served one of the largest urban districts in Ohio as their blended learning coordinator.
University of Colorado Denver
Professor, Educational Leadership; Founding Director, CASTLE CASTLE is the only university center in the USA focused on leadership, technology, innovation, and deeper learning. Scott's bio: CASTLE:
Head Textbook Ditcher
Ditch That Textbook LLC
Matt Miller taught in public schools for more than 10 years, teaching all levels of high school Spanish. In his career, he planned nearly 12,000 class lessons. He taught more than half a million instructional minutes. And he graded work for nearly 2,000 days of class. He’s an award-winning author with five books to his name. Matt is a Google Certified Innovator, PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator and two-time Bammy! Awards nominee. His Ditch That Textbook blog encourages tens of thousands of educators in more than 100 countries to use technology and creative ideas in teaching.
Retired Educator
ISTE Certified Educator
I am the Instructional Media/Technology/CTE-STEM Teacher at Aurora Frontier P-8 in Aurora Colorado and an educator for 30 years. I am part of the ISTE Community Leader and In 2019 she became an ISTE Certified educator. I have presented at ISTE: 2010-2022. Colorado InnEdCo conferences: 2010-2022. Recognitions: ISTE Certified Educator, InnEdCO Ambassador, 2020 ISTE Digitial Storytelling Network Creativity and Leadership Award Winner, Microsoft Innovative Educator, Microsoft Certified Teacher, Google Level 1 & 2 Certified Teacher, Certified Google Teacher Leader, IBM AI Certified Educator, Adobe Certified Educator, EdPuzzle Certified Educator, FlipGrid Certified Educator.
K-5 Technology Teacher
Hairgrove Elementary, CFISD
Christine Morgan, M. Ed. is a K-5 Technology Teacher in Houston, TX that is determined to share her love of technology & creativity with others. She loves being able to connect with other educators through Twitter and attending (and presenting) conferences. As a self-proclaimed ‘techy teacher’, she loves finding ways to engage and support her students, as well as enhance their creativity. Christine continues a “lifelong learner” frame of mind and is always on the lookout for new ways to support her 21st century learners. Check out her website at where she shares free templates!
Technology Integration Specialist
Smithtown School District
Tim Needles is an artist, educator and author of STEAM Power. He’s a TEDx Talk speaker, technology integration specialist, and teaches art and emerging media at Smithtown Schools and Five Towns College. His work has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, Columbus Museum of Art, and the Norman Rockwell Museum. He’s the recipient of ISTE’s Technology in Action and Creativity Award, NAEA’s Eastern Region Art Educator Award & ArtEdTech Outstanding Teaching Award, and The Rauschenberg Power of Art Award. He’s also a board member of NYSCATE, a NASA Solar System Ambassador, an ISTE Community leader and NAEA ArtMediaTech chair.
Ashburnham-Westminster RSD
Kendre Perry, M.Ed, is currently a Middle School (6-8) STEM Specialist in Winchendon, MA and is a member of the ISTE Community Leadership team. She presents at the national and local levels to educators about meaningful technology integration. Her areas of EdTech interest include Augmented and Virtual Reality, Formative Assessment Tools, Generation Z, Engaging Presentation Tools, and Google Tools for Learning.
Megan Puckett has been an Social Studies educator in Texas for more than a decade. She's taught middle school, high school, SPED, honors, AP, and various electives. Megan also specializes in Gifted Education and has trained teachers in her district and the Houston area for the last five years with a focus on blended learning and creativity. She has also presented around Texas on the power of technology in the classroom
Elevate Education
Ken Shelton has been an educator for over 20 years, many of which were spent teaching technology to middle school students. He has worked extensively at the policy level with a number of state departments of education, ministries of education and nonprofits, and was appointed to an Education Technology Task Force formed by a previous California State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Shelton regularly gives keynote presentations and consults and leads workshops on educational technology, equity and inclusion, anti-racism, multimedia literacy, cultural intelligence, visual storytelling and instructional design. He’s an Apple Distinguished Educator, a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and a Google Certified Innovator. In 2018, he earned ISTE’s Digital Equity PLN Excellence Award. He was also named an influencer to follow by EdTech Magazine. Shelton holds a master’s degree in education with specialties in edtech and new media design and production.
Technology Integration Analyst & Trainer
Northeast Metro Intermediate School Dist
ISTE Certified Educator
Emily is a Technology Integrator and Trainer for Northeast Metro Intermediate School District 916, a former middle school German Teacher, and a Google Certified Trainer & Coach and ISTE Certified Educator. Throughout her time at 916, she has worked with staff and students to grow their instructional technology skills and meets everyone where they are at. Emily has presented at a variety of local, regional, national, and international conferences, both in-person and virtually. She uses her professional experiences, passion for technology, and drive to innovate student learning to inform and plan her training sessions, including one-on-one, group, and online.
Antioch University New England
After nearly a decade of teaching high school English, debate, theatre, and speech, I joined the Education Department faculty at Antioch University New England. I'm currently the Director of the Experienced Educators Program, which provides MEds and certificates for working teachers. I advise students in our Critical Skills Classroom, Integrated STEAM, and Self-Designed concentrations. I'm an author, Community Facilitator, and Contributing Editor for Edutopia and am the author of multiple articles and monographs as well as "Facilitating Authentic Learning" (Corwin, 2011). I live in Keene, New Hampshire with my husband, John, and our two rescues Maggie and Luna.
Instructional Support Specialist
Education Change Agent
Danni Tymitz began her career as an elementary teacher in Cincinnati. After a successful decade in the classroom, she followed her passion for educational technology to become the Instructional Technology Coordinator for Learn21. Over the past 10 years, Danni has worked with many school districts to support their educational technology and curriculum initiatives through customized professional learning experiences and materials. She is a leader in blended and online instruction and uses classroom experience and skills in instructional design and technology to support students and teachers as they navigate the changing educational landscape.
Special Projects Manager
Northeast Metro 916 Intermediate School
Theresa has been working with students with disabilities for 18 years and specializes in individualizing instruction and supports for complex learners. She carries both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Special Education with specializations in Behavior and Autism Studies. She currently works as Lead for Consultative Services at Northeast Metro 916 Intermediate School District in Minnesota and works part time as an adjunct professor and supervisor at the University of Minnesota in their Educational Psychology Department. She spends her free time hiking and kayaking with her adorable dog Jasper.
STEAM Teacher
Deal School
Rachel Walton teaches in Deal, NJ which has embraced STEaM and with it the vision of a school with a fluid cross-curricular integration of technology in all subject areas, especially mathematics, arts, engineering, and science. Her day-to-day includes facilitating STEAM classes for K-8, in a fully equipped STEAM Studio, and facilitating the Navigators Program(G&T) for K-8. She is a strong arts, education, and design professional with a Master of Education (M.Ed.) Problem-Based Learning- Critical Skills Classroom from Antioch University New England. Rachel is also an Adjunct Professor for AUNE. Follow her at @MrsVanSTEaM

Session description

Elevating student thinking, creativity and questioning to the highest levels of Bloom's is good for all students. Come ponder, problem-solve, and engage in the rigor and relevance of higher-order thinking as you explore tech resources and critical creative thinking activities you can use the next day.

Purpose & objective

HOTS Playground Schedule and Session Descriptions at:
Participants will:
• actively engage and explore multiple higher order thinking resources, formats, tools, and applications through interactive sandbox and presentation stages.
• leave with resources and activities they can easily integrate higher order thinking actives with their students
• understand the importance of higher order thinking questioning in all areas of learning, and have tools to assist them.

• Provide hands on opportunities to explore a variety of higher order thinking activities that cover numerous curricular areas will be found throughout the playground .
• Provide links to free resources so participants can easily integrate activities into their classroom.
• Provide guidance and resources on how to use questioning strategies to inspire thinking and move students beyond finding a right answer.
• Demonstrate the use of convergent and divergent thinking, questioning strategies, Blooms Taxonomy, Computational Thinking pillars, engineering concepts, etc. while engaging in the interactive activities, presentations, and resources provided throughout the playground

More [+]


HOTS Playground Schedule and Session Descriptions at:

Interactive Tables
Table 1 Higher Order Thinking Games, Elevate Vocabulary, and Hands on Activities to Make You Think! Gwynn Moore and Julie Jaeger
Bonus: Gallery Walk of Higher Order Thinking Integrations

Table 2 Higher Order Prompt Engineering Nikole Bond and Abbey Lichtenberg

Table 3 Creative STEAM Powered Integrations Tim Needles

Table 4 Digital Makerspace Activities including Lego and STEAM/Engineering Challenges Theresa Wallace and Emily Thomas

Table 5 4 Shifts Protocol for Deeper Thinking and Learning Scott McLeod

Table 6 SEL+PBL= HOTS Challenge Design Laura Thomas and Rachel Walton

.Table 7 WHERE IS HOT! Charlie Fitzpatrick and Tom Baker

Presentation Stage 1
12:00 Design Matters Rethinking Learning Environments Ken Shelton

12:30 Insta-HOTS: Social Media-inspired Activities for Higher-order Thinking. Matt Miller

1:00 Competitions: Problem Based Challenges to Promote Thinking. Gwynn Moore

1:30 Where has All the Thinking Gone?? Elevate Students Thinking About Their Learning Julie Jaeger

Presentation Stage 2
12:00-2:00 It's Getting HoT In Here! Our Interactive HoT Game Show! Stacy Hawthorne, Danielle Tymitz, Kimberly McClain, Amy Tudor, Carly Ghantous
Join in on this fast-paced game show where educators get to face off against a colleague in a race to come up with the best higher-order thinking (HoT) skills question on a random topic in K-12 education. Prepare for learning, plenty of fun and prizes!

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Supporting research

Higher-Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) in Education Teaching Students to Think Critically


Characteristics of a Critical Thinking Classroom

Ian Byrdseed Resources at and BirdseedTV
Creativity: From Dull to Creative Ian Bird Gifted Educator and Presesnter
ByrdseedTV Free units

How to Increase Higher Level Thinking Alice Thomas and Glenda Thorne

Blooms Taxonomy
Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom (Use

Brain-Based Learning and Neuroeducation to Differentiate Instruction) 2nd Edition by David A. Sousa (Author)

Howard Gardner Multiple Intelligences

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Session specifications

Universal Design for Learning/differentiated learning
Grade level:
Skill level:
Coaches, Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers
Attendee devices:
Devices useful
Attendee device specification:
Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials:
Resources will be provided for easy access. Most resources used will be free.
ISTE Standards:
For Educators:
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
For Students:
Innovative Designer
  • Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.
Computational Thinker
  • Students break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving.