Reflections on Bloom’s taxonomy and why it is essential for teaching

Bloom’s taxonomy is focussing on the cognitive thinking skills and it’s objectives putting them into a relevant order of six levels of complexity, from Lower Ordered Thinking Skills up to Higher Ordered Thinking Skills. At the bottom of the skale are thinking skills like listing, naming, repeating, recording etc. meanwhile at the top we find skills like solving, critizising, assessing etc. so that learning becomes more and more relevant and meaningful the higher we get on the skale.

                                                          'Bloom's Taxonomy as a wheel' photo (c) 2009, Doug Belshaw - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/(see: http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2009/05/25/the-best-resources-for-helping-teachers-use-blooms-taxonomy-in-the-classroom/

Becoming more and more conscious about what features, methods, strategies, plannings and activities are needed to realize active, meaningful, student-centered, autonomous, cooperative, goal-oriented and life-long learning in language classrooms – this is the process I have been going through for some months now and I feel that teaching lessons, participating in formations like TKT or congresses I visited are inspiring me mutually.

I probably have heard about Bloom before during my formal studies in Germany but have perhaps forgotten about it; now that I am at a different stage of development and that I can observe myself more clearly in classes, I understand its importance and meaningfulness for us teachers. Having worked in different places, with different students and their needs, having met several other teachers or guides or persons who want to work with students and having been able to put the puzzle together is what makes me read Bloom in a different and new way now.

The link Ellen posted on Larry Ferlazzos ideas on how to use Bloom’s Taxonomy in class seems very helpful to me and I am actually thinking about having such a big wall chart in the front of my classroom with a summary of each “Bloom level”; could also be a wheel chart or some other representation as the Blooming Orange (see: http://thinkonline.smarttutor.com/blooming-orange-blooms-taxonomy-helpful-verbs-poster/) – I would probably as well give some links to students so that they can read about the taxonomy and its various representations to later on discuss them in class and decide on one of them all together. By the way, I have known previously that talking about learning processes with students is important – but still do miss a lot practicing it. Now reading about Bloom and the use made out of his Taxonomy inspires me to just practice it in class. As I want to make learning become a process that is mutual between students and teachers and have students teach as well as teachers learn from them (see the Ted Talks video on Adora Svitak for inspiration), it is of principal importance to talk together about the different stages of learning and organizing learning.

Perhaps I have been using mostly LOTS in class and am now thinking about how to apply HOTS in my following classes; it is all about being conscious and observing ourselves while teaching and planning lessons. What is our purpose of teaching this or that way? Why and what for do we want learners to learn this or that? Have them think critically, create and evaluate. Talk about their own learning process and course books contents. Have them perhaps revise the curriculum and compile themselves exercises for future students.

In the following I will quote Ferlazzos commentary on Bloom just to highlight what I learnt from it and what I want to apply in my classes: “I personally try to use Bloom’s Taxonomy in two ways. One, I have a big wall chart in the front of my classroom with a summary of each level of the Taxonomy and “question starters” for each of them. Since I spend a lot of time helping my students practice reading strategies, and one of them is asking questions, they can take advantage of the accessibility of this poster. After reviewing what the whole thing means, we discuss how — by practicing asking themselves the higher-level questions while they read a text — they can gain a deeper understand of its meaning.“ (see http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2009/05/25/the-best-resources-for-helping-teachers-use-blooms-taxonomy-in-the-classroom/)

And besides Adam Waxler’s argument convinces me as he comments that: “When students are evaluating and judging and using the higher order thinking skills of blooms taxonomy they are more likely to retain information, perform better on standardized tests, and most importantly, achieve the ultimate goal of becoming lifelong learners.” (see: http://www.teaching-tips-machine.com/blooms_taxonomy.htm) In the following he underlines that learners “retain the information for the long-term and, more importantly, help the student learn to think for himself”

In our days that autonomy, collaborative learning, interaction patterns, learners’ needs, learning strategies and motivation – to just name some of the central items in educational discussion – it is getting more and more important to make learners chose learning contents out of a variety of learning inputs and make them be free® in their outputs; Bloom’s taxonomy and the interpretations given to us are really founded, clear supports for teachers to be guided.In ordinary life learners are always exposed to recall, understand, apply, analyze and evaluate to be able to create their own way of life, their own “product” – so this is what we are just imitating with them in class.

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