eLearning – Thinking about Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy and our teaching practice

Bloom’s Taxonomy, developed in the 1950’s, expressed thinking and learning through a set of concepts that begin with lower order thinking skills and build to higher order thinking skills. The initial phraseology of Bloom’s Taxonomy had six levels, beginning with knowledge at the lowest, then progressing through comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

The basis for the theory is rather straightforward, a person cannot understand something that he does not remember (know) nor can he/she analyse or apply that knowledge if the person does not understand the material. Though an ability to analyse and apply certainly supersedes the basic knowledge category, to synthesise entails divergently applying knowledge and/or skills to produce something new. Lastly, evaluating or judging the value of material is necessary to produce a worthy final end product.

In 2001, Bloom’s original taxonomy was revised in light of the way education and the world around us had changed overtime. As education has moved into the digital world, the the taxonomy has struggled with where to place new technology tasks within this long-standing hierarchal guide to teaching and learning.

The Digital Taxonomy

Andrew Churches has become well known for his work in mapping Bloom’s Taxonomy to digital tools, so that educators can get some ideas about how to use digital tools for learning and teaching:

 

Alongside traditional teaching methods e-learning tools can be used to support different thinking skills within the taxonomy. Below are a few tools, some well-known and some new, which you could be consider using within your teaching. As we start both a new term and a new calendar year, why not try something new or different? The list below is simply food for thought and far from an exhaustive list.

Sharing

Google Classroom – Is it time to update that class stream? Remember to post all class materials to your Classroom so students have access to PowerPoints, extracts, worksheets, etc, beyond the classroom. YouTube videos can also be easily embedded as an announcement on Classroom. The question is, are you making the most of your classroom?

Twitter  – We all know that Twitter is a great place to hear from other educators and likemind professionals and share your own ideas, thoughts and initiatives. But, does your personal or faculty Twitter need an update? Is it time to reconsider the audience of your Twitter? Why not make some new connections and networks? This post by @TeacherToolkit might provide some insights for who to follow – https://www.teachertoolkit.co.uk/2016/04/03/101educators/

Blogger – A bold step, but could you start your own or a class blog where students could contribute posts regularly? A blog could be used as a mechanism for students to share their thoughts on wider reading or their engagement with the super-curriculum. As we embrace the use of laptops in the sixth form, could the use of a blog be used to replace traditional note taking in folders or books?

 

Creating

Book Creator – Authoring a book has never been easier with a multitude of apps available to create a near professional looking end product. As you create resources for new schemes of learning, why not collaborate with colleagues in creating your own book to share with students? As our KS4 and KS5 students begin to revise, as part of the reviewing stage of effective revision could they be encouraged to encapsulate concise notes, key concepts and diagrams into a mini book?

YouTube – In my opinion, the power of video is underestimated in teaching. Over the Christmas holidays how many times did you watch a “how to video” to help you get those Delia perfect roasties, finish that fiddly bit of DIY, or work out how that new toy or gadget works. That is because cookbooks, instruction manuals and pamphlets with products are a thing of the past!  So why not direct students to useful YouTube videos or channels as an approach to flipped learning? Or, as we begin to review Year 11 and 13 trial exams this half, why not create your own videos or  tutorials for those particularly tricky questions or common misconceptions?

Toontastic – Introduced to me over the Christmas break by a primary teacher, this free app is all about animation and digital storytelling. I had a chance to look at two sets of students work, one fictional, where students had created a story to depict their learning of the french translation for eight different colours. The other was completely factual, and told a story about the process of digestion through the body. This got my thinking, could we engage students in digital storytelling to better understand complex processes or events? There are many other apps which may be more suited for this type of activity – https://www.techlearning.com/tl-advisor-blog/30-sites-and-apps-for-digital-storytelling.

Evaluating

Canva – Creating infographics is a powerful way to concisely evaluation findings, trends and statistics. Canva provides a intuitive and easy way for students to do this. So, when students have a data or trends to analyse, why not give them time to create an infographic to think deeply about the data and explain what is being shown? This could be a tool to use for data students have collected, historical datasets or even performance related outcomes.

Personal Learning Checklists (PLCs) – This is not an app, and the term PLCs is one used mainly by PiXL, however the idea of students self-evaluating their knowledge against set criteria is a powerful one. PiXL has many pre created PLCs for KS4 and KS5 for various exam board specifications and subjects, but do not underestimate the value these could add during KS3 too. If creating your own PLCs why not use a collaborative tool such as Google Docs or Sheets where you could add developmental comments so students are aware of the “next steps” they need to take to develop their knowledge further. If you need a reminder of the school PiXL login credentials, please email Claire Oakes.

Conceptualising

Thinglink – Bringing together many ideas, linking a concept to a real-world entity and interleaving content can at times be tricky. Using an app such as Thinglink allows students to join together key concepts, make use of a range of media and create knowledge “hotspots”. In terms of a resource for teaching, Thinglink can provide a platform for personalised learning, for example by providing a range of well-consider real-world examples which key concepts may link to. Students can then interact with the given examples based upon what is familiar to them, their life experiences and prior understanding.

Google Earth – It has been a while since I have seen Google Earth in use, and this is not to be confused with Google Maps, which offers less functionality. Google Earth is a simple tool to take students to a location where we would otherwise struggle to do so. Whether it be the site of historical battle, a particular estuary of a river or a location of a famous performance venue.  Google Earth offers greater functionality in terms of navigation and precision graphics. Additionally teachers can create maps with set flags or points which can be shared with students, thus commencing the start of what could be an exciting journey. Even if it is just as a starter or plenary, why not embrace an opportunity to take students beyond the classroom walls?

Applying

Edpuzzle – A great tool for flipped learning but also monitoring how students are applying their understanding in the context of answering questions. Edpuzzle allows you to upload a video or select one from YouTube (or similar services) and then add questions or your own voice notes at set points. Before students can watch the rest of the video they need to answer the question or listen to the voice note. This self-paced learning tool also allows you to track if students are watching the videos, how many times per section and if they’re understanding the content. If you haven’t had a play with this – take a look!

Skitch – Practical work that you want students to annotate? A diagram which you want students to be able to demonstrate an understanding of or explain? Or simply just a digital mini whiteboard. Skitch offers it all. Skitch enables students to take a picture with their device or import a photo provided to them and annotate using text, arrows, other shapes and even emojis. This is a simple and effective tool which allows you to quickly assess how students are applying their knowledge to a given example. This is also a useful tool for providing feedback on practical work.  Some great examples of Skitch in use can be found here.

Connecting

Mindomo – This app requires little explanation, other than it is an effective tool for mind mapping. There are a variety of similar apps out there. My reason behind listing this one is that firstly it is easy to use. Secondly, it allows for easy real time collaboration with others by sharing ideas and working together on mind-maps in real time. This is a recent discovery for me whilst visiting another secondary school.

 

Doing

EvernoteKnowledge organisers are growing in popularity among our students as a way of summarising a topic or reviewing knowledge as part of a wider revision strategy. Whilst providing some scaffolding or structure for students is useful, at some point in time we have to hand over to them. In terms of creating a series of knowledge organisers under various themes or topics and storing them coherently in one place, Evernote is a useful tool. The app has the ability of combining text, images and graphics. Alongside this, tick boxes can be added to sections which could help students when spacing practice and revisiting.

Google Search – Whilst only using this as an example, the key principle here is the idea of students using a search engine. A simple one, I know, but it is very easy to forget that our role as educators is to facilitate learning and not necessarily be there to provide students with all of the answers. Whilst the world wide web contains information of varying quality, students solving very challenging questions or problems with only guidance from the teacher sees the highest levels of student satisfaction in our classrooms. Why not consider some more activities where students need to find their way to an answer or solution having to synthesise and quality assure information along the way? It is a tool for later in life! Here are some Google Search challenges which could be used as a hook at the start of a lesson (or for you to try yourself – beware it becomes addictive).

About The Author

Mark Allday

Assistant Headteacher

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