Tip for Tuesday: Bloom's Taxonomy
“After forty years of intensive research on school learning in the United States as well as abroad, my major conclusion is: What any person in the world can learn, almost all persons can learn if provided with appropriate prior and current conditions of learning.”
Benjamin Bloom, Developing Talent in Young People
This month we’re taking a look at Bloom’s Taxonomy – a theory exploring how we learn and remember, and how to structure learning to develop our own ideas. This theory is particularly useful for older Breadies and those who are taking academic sessions, although the early stages can be applied across levels.
So who is Bloom and what is his taxonomy?
Born in 1913, Benjamin Bloom was an American educational psychologist who focused on the objectives of learning. In 1956 he published his first work, The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives which over time turned into the widely used ‘Bloom’s Taxonomy’, a theory that has shaped much of curriculum building today. Bloom believed that having a clear structure of knowledge lead to better critical thinking, and greater creativity with ideas.
Bloom’s taxonomy, much like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, is a pyramid for development, however it is important to note that whilst Bloom’s taxonomy represents different categories of cognition, it is not a step-by-step system. As more and more English is explored and acquired, learning will happen cyclically, with each new area of language having to go through the process of remembering, understanding, applying etc etc.
The theory was revised in 2001 so below is the most recent version of Bloom’s Taxonomy:
Now that we’ve looked at what the taxonomy is, how can it be applied to teaching at IQBar, both within ESL and academic sessions? How can we use the taxonomy to focus on our educational goals for each session?
Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy to Lower Levels
We’ll begin with ESL and our earlier level Breadies. This can also be applied to taster sessions! For our youngest learners, those studying Picaro level 1-2 and CGE books FEW – to book 3, the focus should be on remembering, understanding and applying.
Whilst remembering is one of the primary goals of the lowest levels, FEW and Picaro 1, it is important to consider that remembering can happen without any actual understanding.
For learning vocabulary and new grammar formations, you can aid remembering with:
A clear image or object to associate the language.
Fill in the blanks.
True or False style questions, ‘Is this a?’
‘Find the…’ questions
If you are trying to develop the formation of simple sentences, it becomes important that the sentence is practised using lots of examples with lots of opportunities for the Bready to try out the sentences with trial and error.
The Bready will have, at this point, reached understanding! At this point, Breadies should be able to categorise, organise and, if at a higher level of English, explain concepts and ideas. We can – highlight this within Picaro where Breadies can group vocabulary into categories such as food, colours and clothes.
For higher level, this could be such as using the opposite words and phrases, thinking of an alternative word, or teaching the teacher!
The third section ‘applying’ is all about using the newly acquired knowledge in different situations.
For our youngest Bready this could be getting them to ask you questions such as ‘what colour is this?’ and you responding with the wrong answers and the Bready telling you you’re wrong.
With our new phonics course, this could be Breadies correctly finding the sounds in their room.
If you’re reading a story with a Bready, at this stage they should be able to explain what has happened in the story and why it has happened.
It can be quite tricky with younger students to easily map their progress, so using these three steps within your session can help you ground the aims of the class and assess with each new topic where your Bready’s understanding is!
Further learning - higher levels
For our higher level Breadies and those academic session Breadies, we can take our sessions at little further, looking at how to analyse, evaluate, and create from what we’ve learnt.
Within ESL, Breadies at this point, particularly from CGE 4 and Picaro 3, should be able to look at how certain word choices or grammar structures make them feel. If you are looking at weather for example, why do certain types of weather make you feel a certain way? Why do characters do what they do in a story? What is the difference between English culture and Chinese culture in greetings? How do memories make you feel?
Here you can begin to use critical thinking, putting grammar and ESL learning into practise by having discussions and in depth conversations on the topic covered.
At this stage, Breadies should be able to justify their arguments and why they’ve chosen a particular structure. Whilst doing this they can use knew grammar structures and continue to develop their vocabulary surrounding opinions.
Here Breadies can get creative! Using the topic from that session, they can create something – either as a homework task or in class. This could include:
Writing an instruction manual
Writing an article about how to be environmentally friendly
Creating their own poem using rhyme
Writing their own chapter to a story read in session.
To reiterate, this is not a beginning to end system but one in flux, each session beginning at a different level of understanding. What Bloom’s Taxonomy does is provide simple categorisation so you can map where your Bready is and what they can achieve in a certain time period.
Let us know how it goes!