Using Bloom's Taxonomy to Influence Curriculum

Do you remember learning Blooms Taxonomy when studying to be a teacher? When it comes to the cognitive domain the theory is that Memorization is the foundation of learning but the least likely to be "sticky" and be retained (thanks to Ted for the phrase). The next is understanding, as in Why the Civil War ended as it did as opposed to knowing the dates and states in the North and the South. Or how increasing the height a ball is dropped from will increase its final velocity.

Application is using this information in a real world situation. Every week thousands of students conduct some sort of Lab in science where they recreate a famous experiment and if the intended data and results are collected, the student receives full credit.

The highest level of learning according to Bloom's Taxonomy involves Analyzing, Evaluation, and Synthesis (creation)....let that set in for a second.

We have state and federal standards that we are expected to teach and therefore the students to learn. If you look at those standards, they involve some form of memorization (identify, know) or understanding (explain, describe). Why? Because the best a standardized test can assess by its very nature is memorized facts (multiple choice) and understanding  (extended response/essay).

With so much to teach, so little time, and so much riding on the student's score on these High Stakes Exams, it is no wonder that our students are doing poorly according to International Criterion. We have set the bar at the minimum and even if our students retain everything the best they can hope for is good test scores.

When they leave, will they be able to use that knowledge? Do they even care about using that information anymore? Facts and trivia are great for winning Jeopardy but they fail at inspiring excitement and interest.

As we plan this year fellow teachers, I ask that you consider how you might teach to the higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. Application, Evaluation, and Synthesis. You would be surprised how much more students will want to learn and how much more they will have learned, when they have built, debated, repurposed, drawn, animated, ignited, and every other word that when uttered to a child evokes a smile.

Is it messy? Yes. Is it hard to assess? Not really. It just doesn't fall under the choices of A,B,C,D. Will you cover less? Perhaps a little, but think of how far a little depth would go. If we are teaching them to synthesize and apply, then they will certainly be able to do so on a test question that they do not understand.

The test makers call it an educated guess, we call it critical thinking.

Please, do not be too hard on yourself if you cannot immediately figure out a way to do this. Any little steps you can take will lead to bigger ones. For some inspiration I recommend the following:

Watch Gever Tulley as he speaks about his Tinkering School where 10 year olds create with power tools.

Imagine what your kids could do if given the opportunity to freely express their creative energy. Tulley has a book out with even more ideas: Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)

Watch Sir Ken Robinson's comedic take on how schools are killing creativity (and how you can stop it). Thanks Marisol for showing this to our staff today!

Finally, if you did not catch my first post about it. Watch Waiting for Superman on September 24th for a compelling tale about our school system and what we can do about it.

Teachers, we have an incredible opportunity to inspire and excite our population. While it may seem daunting, it will result in more fun and learning than ever before. Please be mindful as you plan your curriculum to encourage application, analyzing, evaluation, and creativity.

Any thoughts on the matter? Agree, disagree? What prevents us from doing this everyday and how can we overcome these obstacles?

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