Thinking and Writing
Our world has problems. Greenhouse gases from cars and factories are warming the atmosphere. Warmer air makes warmer oceans, which in turn make bigger hurricanes. Hurricanes with stronger winds, more storm surge, and greater rainfall are destroying our cars and factories.
It’s a lot to think about.
Lucky for us, we have powerful brains for solving problems. This chapter teaches you how to move from basic thinking (recalling) to deeper levels (understanding, applying, analyzing, and evaluating). You can even use your big brain to create solutions!
Guidelines for Thinking and Writing
Review the important types of thinking you will use in school assignments and tests.
Use recalling / remembering when you are asked to . . .
- fill in the blanks
- define terms
- list facts or words
- label parts of something
Use understanding when you are asked to . . .
- explain something
- summarize something
- tell how something works
- tell if something is true or false
- choose the best answer
Use applying when you are asked to . . .
- use information in your own life
- use ideas in a specific situation
Use analyzing when you are asked to . . .
- compare and contrast things
- trace causes and effects
- put things in order
- divide things into groups
- give reasons for something
- tell why something is the way it is
Use evaluating when you are asked to . . .
- judge something
- rate something
- give your opinion of something
Use creating when you are asked to . . .
- make something
- imagine something
- combine things
- predict what will happen
Recalling / Remembering
When you recall, you remember information you talked about in class or read about in a book.
You recall when you . . .
- write down facts and definitions
- study information until you know it well
- answer basic test questions
This test question asks you to recall.
Directions: List in complete sentences six important facts you have learned about hurricanes.
Hurricanes form over warm oceans.
They are rated from Category 1 (74+ mph winds) to Category 5 (157+ mph winds).
Hurricanes are becoming more frequent and powerful.
Hurricanes average about 300 miles wide.
The calm eye of the hurricane is 20–40 miles wide.
Storm surge and flooding cause much of the damage.
- Listen in class and read your assignments carefully.
- Write things down and illustrate those things that are difficult to describe in words.
- Use graphic organizers and memory aids.
When you know information well enough to talk or write about it, you understand what it means.
You understand when you . . .
- explain what you have learned
- give specific examples
- tell how something works
This assignment asks you to show understanding.
Directions: In a paragraph, explain how a hurricane forms.
Hurricanes form over warm oceans. A low-pressure system moves over the Atlantic, picking up hot, humid air. The air rises to form storm clouds with really low pressure below. When water vapor condenses into droplets, it releases heat, fueling the clouds further. These energized clouds start to circle around the low pressure center. Winds pick up in this tropical storm. Once the winds hit 74 miles per hour, the storm becomes a hurricane.
- Write a summary of the information in your own words.
- Review the information out loud with a friend or family member.
- Explain what you know to someone else, using a drawing, a chart, or a graphic organizer.
When you apply information, you are able to use what you’ve learned.
You apply when you . . .
- use what you’ve learned in art, music, or sports to help you practice or perform.
- use information you’ve learned to solve problems
This assignment asks you to apply information to a real-world situation.
Directions: Apply what you have learned about hurricanes to suggest new building standards for areas that experience hurricanes.
High winds, storm surge, and flash flooding cause the most damage in hurricanes. To battle high winds, buildings should be made more rounded like automobiles. They should also be reinforced to prevent roofs and walls from giving way. To battle storm surge, any seaside building should be on sturdy stilts over 20 feet tall, with deep foundation posts. They should also have retaining walls to prevent erosion under them. To battle flash flooding, cities need to improve their storm water systems and make sure to leave wild places that can absorb flood waters. These changes can help protect property, but people need to know the best way to be safe from a hurricane is to evacuate.
In a learning log or journal, write about what you’ve learned and tell how it applies to your past, present, or possible future experiences.
When you analyze information, you break it down into parts.
You analyze when you . . .
- tell how things are alike or different
- tell how the parts fit together
- trace the causes and effects of something
- give reasons for something
This assignment asks you to analyze what you know.
Directions: In a paragraph, compare and contrast hurricanes and tornadoes.
Hurricanes and tornadoes are both circular storms around a low-pressure eye. That’s where the similarities end. Hurricanes form over hot oceans, but tornadoes form over hot plains. Hurricanes tend to be 300 miles across, while tornadoes are more like 300 yards across. Category 5 hurricanes have top winds of about 170 miles per hour. F5 tornadoes have top winds of 300 miles per hour. Hurricanes can last a week or more, but tornadoes last only minutes or hours. Both cause destruction.
When you evaluate, you judge what you have learned. You explain the value of something—how good or bad it is.
You evaluate when you . . .
- give your opinion about something
- tell the good points and bad points about something
- explain the strengths and weaknesses of something
This assignment asks you to evaluate something.
Directions: Evaluate the government’s response to hurricanes.
Different parts of the government get different grades for response to hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gets an A+ for tracking hurricanes as they develop, showing where they are headed, and giving warnings. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gets a C for its help with clean up. It did a good job with hurricanes that struck Florida, but a poor job with the ones that hit Puerto Rico and New Orleans. And the president and Congress get a D- for failing to meet the goals of reducing climate change. As the world heats up, hurricanes will just get worse.
Before you can evaluate something, you must understand it very well. Then you can judge it, form your opinion, and share your opinion with others.
When you create, you use what you already know to develop new information.
You create when you . . .
- add some new ideas to the information
- use the information to imagine something new or different
- predict what will happen in the future based on this information
This assignment asks you to create something new.
Directions: Imagine that you were running for president and a reporter asked you what you would do to address the problem of bigger and more powerful hurricanes. Write your response.
As president, I would make us better prepared for hurricanes. First, I would increase the budget of FEMA. But I don’t want the agency just to focus on disaster relief. I want them to help communities prepare. FEMA could help improve building codes and add sea walls and other features. In addition, I would work with Congress to pass laws that reduce carbon emissions and increase green energy. These changes will prevent even more violent storms in the future. Finally, I will help fund businesses that are developing new technologies that can combat climate change.
Creative Thinking Tip
Thinking creatively is an important learning tool. More and more employers are looking for people who are imaginative thinkers and creative problem solvers—people who can think in new ways.