If you want to see how kids think, sometime try giving out an assignment that has no answer. For example, in a few days, I will be having fifth graders decide who was/is "the greatest jazz musician of all time." Think you know the answer??? Not so fast.
Try doing a web search. You might get any number of different results, depending on which search engine you use. The students will be on fire to get the 'right answer,' but the trick is that there isn't a right answer. Then, as the teacher, you go through and have student build a list of criteria that could be useful.
What I do is start out by asking who is the best kid in the class. They come up with a list that might include: looks, grades, money, etc. Then, we brainstorm a list that uses that as a guide. They learn, for example, that looks are subjective and don't make good criteria.
I think, most importantly, the student learns how to break apart an assignment and along with some higher order thinking, come up with a solution that is well-reasoned.
This year, I am hoping to get some schools other places in the world to do the same activity and then Skype video conference between the two classes and compare findings. If you might be interested, email me! My class meets from 1:05-1:35 central time.