Teaching Students Bloom’s Taxonomy

Mary Hastings | 11.8.2013

A better understanding of the learning process will only improve and accelerate the process of learning.

Why is it that we, as teachers, keep so much of what we know about learning a secret from our students, particularly our younger students? It may be that we don’t believe they are capable of understanding the process, or perhaps its because we don’t believe their neurological abilities have developed sufficiently. Maybe we just think that younger students are not yet able to think abstractly…instead of distractedly!

Bloom's Taxonomy For Students - TeachThought

Bloom’s Taxonomy For Students – TeachThought

Bloom’s Taxonomy is one area of knowledge that I strongly feel can be of great value to student learning, even for our youngest elementary-school children. While educators may discuss and debate precisely when students become ready to think critically, analyze knowledge, or apply learning, any parent can tell you that their young children are always asking “why,” or developing explanations for phenomena they observe, or creating new stories for the characters and illustrations in their children’s books. All of these behaviors require higher-order thinking skills, even if some of the explanations children devise aren’t strictly “accurate”—say, the wonderful theory that leaves fall off of trees because they “get tired.”

Why not simply explain to children how learning works from the beginning? For example, an easy approach to help younger students think about different stages of thinking could be to say, “One of the ways we are going to “grow our brains” in school is to travel in our ‘brain train’ from the memory track, where you read or do something again and again, to the creating track, where you build or make things that you think up all by yourself using what you already know. Along the way we’ll travel on several different tracks at different times while our brains are growing.”

TeachThought recently shared a child-friendly poster of Bloom’s Taxonomy, with language such as “memorize stuff” for remembering and “build stuff” for creating, accompanied by verbs that most children, even in elementary school, may already know or could easily learn. (NB: We’re not sure who originally created the poster—if you do, we would love to know!)

Not only is the poster brightly colored, but it includes a set of bars on the left side indicating the “power” that each level of thinking or doing carries. It’s no doubt that our hyper-connected youth will be able to understand and relate to this familiar technological symbol.

Lesson Planet offers a series of lessons for teaching Bloom’s Taxonomy to students in grades K–12, including a kindergarten lesson plan that uses Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. (NB: Lesson Planet is a fee-based membership service.) A simple search on Share My Lesson for Bloom’s Taxonomy brings up many resources: PowerPoint presentations to use with students, lesson plans tied to specific books or topics, and lots more. While you need to create a Share My Lesson account, the service is free.

Every teacher knows that learning requires work at all levels of Bloom’s, but I would argue that if students understand the levels too, it will only improve and accelerate the process of learning.

What do you think? How would you help your students not only understand Bloom’s Taxonomy, but also use that understanding to improve their own learning?

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