Thinking skills

Also known as: Cognitive skills, strategic skills, reflective skills

Thinking Skills are mental processes we use to do things such as solve problems, make decisions, ask questions, construct plans, evaluate ideas, organise information and create objects. They can include:

  • critical thinking - learning to develop an argument, use evidence, draw reasoned conclusions and use information to solve problems
  • creative thinking - ability to come up with novel and useful ways of doing things
  • computational thinking - decomposition, abstraction, pattern recognition and algorithms
  • systems thinking - an understanding of how related objects or components interact to influence how a system functions
  • ethical reasoning - process of identifying ethical issues and weighing multiple perspectives to make informed decisions
  • design thinking - a process where a need or opportunity is identified and a design solution is developed (Design thinking across the curriculum)
  • metacognition - thinking about thinking, it can involve planning, monitoring and evaluating your use of thinking skills.

 

Thinking skills:

  • emphasise to educators the need for the cultivation of attitudes and mindsets, such as openness and risk-taking with learning, to be a deliberate part of programming and quality teaching
  • benefit all students when the explicit teaching of thinking skills is embedded within curriculum content and students learn in an environment that encourages innovative thought and action
  • are supported by many frameworks of thinking, including Bloom's Taxonomy, DeBono's thinking tools and Lipman's modes.

Thinking skills

ICT templates

Learning activity templates

Slides - Design folio (new window)

* Designed to be used with Design thinking across the curric

ulum

Office 365

Google G Suite

Apple

Make sure you are logged into your Microsoft accountExternal link. or Google accountExternal link. before accessing these templates. For more support refer to Getting started with technologyExternal link.

How to use with ICT

Use thinking skills to collaborate your class using online tools such as Jamboard, Padlet or one of the templates. Students can develop skills individually or together. Teachers can also develop thinking skills through scenario based learning using simulations such as Minecraft Education, MapMaker, Metaverse and coding apps.

Single computer

Use thinking skills templates with class, collecting ideas on a single projected document. Once the thinking skills template is completed, share the document with students. Students can develop skills individually or together. Alternatively, students may adapt the template and use whiteboards to model their answers.

External resources

Find out more resources
Title Link Description
NSW Department of Education - Education for a Changing World Thinking skills Comprehensive explanation of thinking skills including research papers, resources and podcasts to support students in a changing world.
NSW Department of Education - Science and technology K-6 Thinking skills - Science and technology K-6 Explore thinking skills related to the NSW Science and Technology syllabus through short videos with real-world examples of how they could look in the primary classroom.
NSW Department of Education - High potential and gifted education HPGE - Differentiation Strategies Support for educators to support students who are High potential or gifted with practical adjustment strategies to differentiate learning.
Thinkerskeys - Tony Ryan Thinkers keys Exploring thinking skills with guidelines, downloads, scenarios and downloads.
Australian curriculum General Capabilities - Critical and Creative thinking Explanation of Critical and Creative thinking as part of the General capabilities including description of thinking processes and PDF downloads.

Disclaimer

Links to third-party websites:

If you use the links provided on this website to access a third party’s website, you acknowledge that the terms of use, including licence terms set out on the third party’s website apply to the use which may be made of the materials on that third party’s website or where permitted by the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).

The department accepts no responsibility for content on third-party websites.

Personalised learning

Disability, Learning and Support

When planning to use technology in the classroom it is important to consider the diversity of your learners. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework to guide the design of learning environments that are accessible and effective for all. For UDL guidelines, information and additional materials, visit the CAST website.

Many students require technology as an adjustment to support their access to learning. Adjustments (NESA) are actions taken that enable a student with disability and additional learning needs to access syllabus outcomes and content on the same basis as their peers. Enrol in the Personalised learning with technology online course to help you make more informed decisions regarding technology.

 

For a range of simple, how-to videos visit the Assistive Technology page on the Disability, Learning and Support website. Resources are organised into four sections; Literacy and Learning, Vision, Hearing, Physical and Motor Skills.

 

High potential and gifted learning and support

When planning to use technology in the classroom it is important to consider the full range of abilities of all learners. High potential and gifted learners may require additional adjustments and deliberate talent development.  These strategies include differentiation, grouping, enrichment and advanced learning pathways so students can be engaged, grow and achieve their personal best.

 

Assessing and identifying high potential and gifted learners will help teachers decide which students may benefit from extension and additional challenge. Effective strategies and contributors to achievement for high potential and gifted learners helps teachers to identify and target areas for growth and improvement. School leaders can access the Evaluation and Planning Tool to support strategic improvement planning.

 

Recognising the diversity of high potential and gifted students represented in classrooms across 4 domains of potential can be explored further by accessing illustrations of practice.

 

For further support and advice about how to tailor learning for high potential and gifted students from all backgrounds, visit the High Potential and Gifted Education web section, High Potential and Gifted Education Policy or attend one of the professional learning courses on offer.

Learn more about the strategy

Professional learning

Professional learning (internal)
Provider Course name Link Description
NSW Department of Education MyPL High potential and gifted education courses HPGE professional learning A range of face-to-face and online options for NSW teachers.
NSW Department of Education Science and Technology syllabusPLUS: systems thinking - online My PL - Systems thinking This syllabusPLUS session unpacks the syllabus with the participants. Systems thinking is the focus of this session.
NSW Department of Education Science and Technology syllabusPLUS: design thinking - online MyPL - Design thinking This syllabusPLUS session unpacks the syllabus with the participants. Design thinking is the focus of this session.
NSW Department of Education Science and Technology syllabusPLUS: computational thinking - online My PL - computational thinking This syllabusPLUS session unpacks the syllabus with the participants. Computational thinking is the focus of this session.