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Archive for April, 2010

An Introduction to Bloom’s Taxonomy

source: http://www.secularcm.com/bloomstaxonomy.htm

Bloom’s Taxonomy is not a part of Charlotte Mason but it is a very helpful tool for anyone who teaches; regardless of the setting. I would even go so far as to say that it is *the* most useful tool I learned when training to be a teacher. I try to keep a copy of it handy when I am lesson planning to remind myself to reach for those higher level thinking skills. It also goes well with the Socratic Method of teaching. All teachers I know are taught about Bloom’s Taxonomy but very few of them actually get to use that knowledge in their classrooms; particularly since No Child Left Behind. Due to state standards, lack of time, required tests and lack of flexibility most traditional classrooms emphasize the lower level thinking skills but rarely include the higher level skills.

What Is Bloom’s Taxonomy & How Do You Use It?

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a way of organizing how we think and learn, with an emphasis on reaching the highest level of thinking/processing learning possible. In far too many learning environments the learning never goes beyond the very beginning levels of learning; mostly because the lower levels are easy to quantify and evaluate (think standardized test questions). These lower levels are important but they are only the building blocks for true higher level learning. If we stop at the lower levels than we are doing our learners a terrible disservice! Why is higher level learning important, you may ask. It is at the higher levels of thinking/processing/learning that the learner begins to have a real relationship with learning and the world around them. It is the higher levels of thinking that create resourceful life-long learners! We must strive to reach for the top of the taxonomy with our learners.

There are two ways that I use the taxonomy. 1. One way is to take what you are already doing/using and compare it to the list below. Keep a record of what levels those materials seem to focus on. You can do this with games, workbooks, narrations and so on. After doing this one year we got rid of most of our workbooks since they focused on the lowest level questions. If you are hitting most of the levels over the course of your subjects than you are good to go. If there are gaps then look for better materials or materials that will help you fill the gaps. 2. If you are more of a hands-on/activity based family it is often easiest to look at the taxonomy as you are planning the activities and make yourself a list of the vocabulary or questions that can help you bring the activities to the highest thinking level possible.3. As an example: If I remember correctly many of the questions asked in Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study are higher level so that may be a handy book to bring in the field with you since many of us are not in the habit of asking *really* good questions of the top of our head. I often write myself reminders on index cards or sticky notes since I can slip them into the book we are using, mark the best questions only if the book provides them for you, or in my pocket if we are away from home.

Lower Level Thinking

1. Knowledge: recall facts, specific information, vocabulary and concepts mostly via rote answers

Words to use at this level: define, match, recall, spell, who, when, where, what, why, which, list, label, find, and so on.

Questions to ask at this level: What is, Where is, How would you show, How would you describe, Can you list three, How would you describe, This is about, This tells us, and so on.

Example activities: multiple choice questions, making lists, reading or creating tables, and graphs, demonstrations, giving speeches,

2. Comprehension: able to organize, compare, interpret and demonstrate information through understanding main ideas

Words to use at this level: classify, compare & contast, demonstrate, summarize, outline, illustrate, infer, rephrase, explain and so on.

Questions to ask at this level: How would you classify, How would you rephrase that, What is the main idea, Can you explain, What statements support, Restate in your own words, etc.

Example activities: verbal or written narrations, writing book reviews, make informational posters,

3. Application: apply problems/solutions to new scenarios through application of knowledge, facts, rules and techniques in new and unique ways

Words to use: build, experiment with, solve, model, organize, plan, interview, identify, apply, predict, etc.

Questions to ask: How would you use, Can you find examples to, How would you solve, How would you organize, show your understanding by, What approach will you use to solve, How does that apply to what you just learned, Is there another way you would do, etc.

Example activities: rewriting endings to stories, role playing, dress-up re-enactments, drawing your own maps, scavenger hunts at museums,

Higher Level Thinking

4. Analysis: break information down into it’s parts; able to identify motives, causes, inferences and evidence to support generalizations. Also, taking the abstract and applying it to concrete situations

Words to use: categorize, analyze, classify, compare & contrast, infer, relationships, simplify, test for, inspect, motive, discover, dissect, distinguish, conclude, identify fact from fiction/opinion.

Questions to ask: How is __ related to__, What is the theme, What conclusions do you infer, How would you categorize, Can you identify the parts, What evidence is there for, What ideas justify, Can you distinguish between, What does__ believe, What is ___ point of view, What relationships do you see, and so on

Example activities:

5. Synthesis: combine/organize information into new patterns, forms or solutions

Words to use: build, change, sequence, combine, adapt, compose, construct, improve, delete, design, predict, solve, theorize, invent, modify, discuss, propose, create, choose, develop, problem solve, etc.

Questions to use: What changes would you make, What would happen if, Can you elaborate on your reason for, What way would you design, Formulate a theory for, predict the outcome of, Construct a model of, How could you modify, What can you combine to improve or change, How else would you, etc.

Example activities: rewriting a story as a play or vice versa, retelling what came before or after a particular event (within a narration), make a diorama,

6. Evaluation: ability to present and defend your opinions/personal reflections by making judgements about information, ideas, and quality using set criteria

Words to use: appraise, interpret, evaluate, conclude, assess, defend, determine, justify, select, perceive, prove/disprove, dispute, defend, judge, etc.

Questions to ask: What influenced, What criteria did you use for, Do you agree/disagree with, How can you prove/disprove that, Would it be better if, How would you prioritize, How did you determine, What data did you use, Why did they choose, What can you cite to prove your point, What would you recommend, How would you evaluate, and so on

Know Your Child’s Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences

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