Wednesday, July 01, 2015

HOTS for Bloom's, part 1

Creating activities that enhance student higher-order thinking skills is important. It requires some thought about ways to develop critical thinkers in the classroom as well as using mobile tools and apps to help students learn how to think.  There are may definitions and explanations of “critical thinking” — a term which began to be used in the mid twentieth century. I feel this overview of a well-cultivated critical thinker created by Paul and Elder sums it up nicely.
A well-cultivated critical thinker…
  • raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely
  • gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it
  • comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria
  • thinks open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought, assessing their preconceived assumptions
  • communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems
Source: Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, 2008.
Students also need to practice how to think. Figure 1 showcases some strategies from Reading Rockets that can help you provide this practice!

I am sure you are all familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy. On the left in Figure 2 is the original Bloom’s Taxonomy, developed in the late 50’s by Benjamin Bloom. And, on the right, is the Revised Blooms Taxonomy, developed in 2000 by Anderson, a student of Bloom’s, and Krathwohl. (Just a reminder that “synthesis” is the same as “creating” in case you find materials that are mapped to the original Bloom’s Taxonomy.
However, I never thought about Bloom’s as a triangle. I thought about these levels as representing the cognitive thought processes we all go through when acquiring new knowledge, as we move back and forth among the levels, I developed my own image (Figure 3)  to show these cognitive levels are interlocking and all make up parts of the whole.
Although this post is about the higher order thinking skills in the analyzing, evaluating, and creating domains of Bloom’s, with perhaps some at the applying level, too, (Figure 4),  I also want to review the six levels of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.
Diane Darrow has done an excellent job of providing an overview of the levels of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy in series of Edutopia articles. Apps can be used to target more than one cognitive level, but this overview explains some of the ways they can support each level.
Remembering: Remembering involves finding information, storing it, and then recalling it. Apps for the remembering level improve the user’s ability to define terms, identify facts, and recall and locate information. In remembering students recall, bookmark, list, search, create mind maps, and write.
Understanding: The understanding level contains skills that have students explaining and constructing meaning using various methods. Apps for the understanding level,  help the student demonstrate the ability to identify the main idea, generalize new material, translate verbal content into a visual form, or make predictions. In understanding students will explain, blog, subscribe, categorize, annotate, and tweet.
Applying: The applying level has students using learned material through products to showcase acquisition of knowledge. Apps that fit into the applying stage provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their ability to implement learned procedures and methods, and  highlight the ability to apply concepts in unfamiliar circumstances.  In applying, students illustrate, present, demonstrate, and simulate
Analyzing: Analyzing includes breaking information into parts to explore understandings and relationships. Apps that fit into the “analyzing” stage improve the user’s ability to differentiate between the relevant and irrelevant, determine relationships, and recognize the organization of content.  In analyzing, students complete tasks that involves structuring, surveying, outlining, and organizing.
Evaluating: The evaluating stage has students making decisions about the value of content based on criteria set by themselves or external sources.  Apps at this stage help students judge content reliability and accuracy quality and effectiveness,  and help them reach informed decisions. In evaluating students show their understanding of a topic or participate in evaluating a peer’s understanding of a topic.
Creating: The creating level helps students reorganize acquired knowledge and information to create a new end result. Apps at the creating level provides opportunities for students to generate ideas, design plans, and come up with a new way of doing things. In creating, students create projects that involve video editing, storytelling, video casting, podcasting, and animating.
If you are interested in exploring the levels of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy in more depth, I presented a series of webinars in 2012 on each level and you can study these one hour sessions if you wish!
  1. Remembering
  2. Understanding
  3. Applying
  4. Analyzing
  5. Evaluating
  6. Creating
Another great source that can help you develop activities and assessments to support the HOTS is this edited chart (Figure 5) from Clemson University which provides various action verbs at each level of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.

In an article in THE Journal, Susan Brooks-Young  outlines five tech-friendly lessons to encourage higher order thinking skills in students. During part 2 of this 3-part series, I will go over some of these and some ideas of my own that include iOS apps and tools!