Counting and converting currency promotes synthesis, evaluation, analysis, symbolic representation and other higher order thinking skills.
Counting and converting currency promotes synthesis, evaluation, analysis, symbolic representation and other higher order thinking skills.

Higher order thinking skills refer to a student’s ability to use and apply knowledge, reflect upon and think critically about knowledge to make decisions and problem solve to reach a specific outcome or goal. In fifth grade math, these higher order thinking skills are taught and applied through math lessons on operations, values, equations and concepts.

Interpretation and Evaluation

Interpretation and evaluation in math requires fifth graders to recognize and understand a mathematic concept, operation, formula or equation within an expression, calculation or problem. At this grade of math, students practice interpretation and evaluation by working through word problems; reading and writing numerical expressions; recognizing and understanding the place value system and comprehending fractions and decimals, to name a few examples. Students are usually introduced to algebra in fifth grade, which also encourages higher order thinking skills of interpretation and evaluation.

Analyzing Patterns and Relationships

Number patterns and relationships are everywhere in math, from simple counting and addition operations to symbolic forms and functional relationships between numbers and operations. When a fifth grade math teacher asks students to count by tens, predict numbers or figure out what operation to use to solve a word problem, the teacher is encouraging students to recognize and analyze patterns and relationships.

Reading, Writing and Comparing Numbers and Operations

Children begin to read, write and compare numbers and operations in kindergarten, when they first learn to count, add and subtract on paper, in a workbook or at the board. By the time a student reaches fifth grade, basic reading, writing and comparison math skills are extended to a student's ability to complete multi-operational word problems; compare decimals to place value; multiply and divide multi-digit numbers; recognize equivalent fractions and add or subtract fractions with unlike denominators and mixed number values.

Measurement and Classification

In fifth grade, math students begin to learn how to convert measurement units -- for example, converting pints to cups, or inches to feet. The ability to convert measurements requires the higher order thinking abilities of application and problem solving. Students also learn to measure with instruments such as rulers and protractors, which requires them to recall, interpret and apply prior knowledge to make sense of the results. Fifth grade students also learn how to represent, interpret and classify data by plotting points, designing graphs, relating volume, mass and other physical properties to operational functions and calculating two-dimensional geometric figures.