Bloom’s Taxonomy was created by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom and his colleagues in 1956. It is a great tool to encourage higher-order thinking in the classroom. Teachers have used this as a framework for education for many years to guide their students to deeper levels of understanding and mastery. In recent years we have seen the inclusion of higher-level thinking skills in educational reform. These more rigorous standards and skill requirements make it imperative that we incorporate these skills into our classroom. Let’s dive right in and discuss what Bloom’s Taxonomy is and how we can use it to guide instruction.
What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?
Bloom’s Taxonomy is the categorization of thinking skills and abilities in order from the most simple to the most complex. The original framework consisted of 6 main categories including:
- Knowledge (most simple and concrete)
- Evaluation (most complex and abstract)
Bloom’s design requires each step to be mastered before moving on to the next category. The categories become increasingly more difficult as you move through them.
While the taxonomy is often depicted in pyramid form with knowledge being the base, I find it is also to think of the process as stair steps. The student must begin with the most basic skill of recalling knowledge and progresses to evaluation which is the most complex processing skill.
While moving through the categories a student will:
- Memorize, recall, list, and repeat information
- Describe, classify, discuss, and explain what they learned
- Demonstrate, interpret, and apply the new knowledge
- Examine, compare and contrast, and distinguish the learning from other known facts
- Put new learning with old knowledge to form a better and deeper understanding
- Make judgments about the value or ideas of what they have learned
Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy
Over the years, Bloom’s Taxonomy has been revised. The rigor has not been lost, but the levels have been reworded into steps that are easier to understand. The 6 areas of Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy are:
The benefits of guiding our students through these steps using the original or revised levels are invaluable. Just a couple of decades in the past, the second or third level of this taxonomy would have been considered mastery. This is no longer the case today! We must prepare our students with more than just facts – we must teach them to be independent thinkers.
How to Use Bloom’s Taxonomy in the Classroom
Weaving Bloom’s Taxonomy into our daily lessons and conversations is vitally important. We may not and probably won’t go through the entire taxonomy in one lesson or on one day. However, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t working at different levels in the many different assignments and tasks our students face in a given day.
The lower levels are just as important as the uppers. Remember, you can’t jump straight to the top of the staircase. It requires intentional steps to go from one step to the next.
Oftentimes memorization is not considered an effective teaching strategy. However, it is very useful for students to be able to have immediate access to different types of knowledge in order to effectively move through the framework. So while we don’t stop with the mere memorization of facts, it is definitely a starting place.
Implementing all the steps of the taxonomy can seem like a daunting task. And if you only look at it from the perspective of trying to add it in in an impromptu fashion it definitely is. However, with intentional planning, you can weave these important steps into every lesson you teach.
Take the time to consider all 6 categories broadly when planning a unit or activity. Start with the basics and move through the categories as you dig deeper into your unit. Use the same strategy when planning a project-based unit that will require an application in the end from your students.
If you weave the different levels into your planning then using them on a daily basis will be much easier.
When Creating Assignments and Asking Questions
Another area that is worth taking the time to consider Bloom’s Taxonomy is in the creation of assignments or projects. As you plan the tasks your students will do, consider which level of the taxonomy the assignment fits in. As you look at the various tasks in a lesson or unit, this can help you quickly and easily see the order they should be completed in.
Bloom’s can also be very helpful when trying to come up with guided questions for students. Our questions can play a big part in helping them move through the different steps and levels. This can be tough! It takes a change in our thinking in order to intentionally guide our students’ thinking.
Help from Question Stems
When I first committed to doing this, it was difficult. I would set out with great intentions but often struggled with hitting all the areas I wanted to. I decided that I needed a gentle reminder and so I created these Bloom’s Taxonomy Questions Stems. By keeping these questions at your fingertips, the ability to weave the questions into your lessons and discussions becomes so much easier.
I created these question stems so they could be easily put on a ring and very easy to keep with you. You can quickly laminate, hole punch, and store on a key ring. I like to hang them on a push-pin on the front bulletin board so they are always handy. I like to have a second set at my small group teaching table too! This allows me to have fast and easy access to the questions stems all the time!
They are a great resource to pull from when asking kids questions during a lesson or small group activity. The great thing about them is that the question stems are generic, so you can adapt them to fit any subject and grade level.
I hope you have a better understanding of exactly what Bloom’s Taxonomy is and how you can utilize it in your classroom. You will find that as you implement these strategies your students will become more effective thinkers, and it will be easier for them to answer what you are asking of them. As always, don’t expect immediate results. It will be a learning process for you and your students with a very worthwhile outcome!
Grab this helpful tool!
You can find these Bloom’s Taxonomy Question Stems in my shop. For less than a cup of coffee, you can have confidence knowing that you can purposefully guide your students through the thinking levels.
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