Building higher order thinking skills is essential for students in Texas due to our new state assessment. I think that every student should have these skills regardless of a state test or not. Building these skills will help students within their career no matter what field they choose in their life.
My priority with my students is building higher order thinking skills (HOTS) by communicating together in cooperative groups. When students are able to discuss, share, form opinions, and revise their way of thinking they are paving the way to strengthening HOTS and communication skills.
Visit http://www.lauracandler.com/ to gather some great ideas. Click on File Cabinets to search for resources. My favorites are the Inference & Prediction Organizer, Mood Ring, Character Dice Game, and many more. This is a great site to collect more ideas to implement within your classrooms.