Friday, January 18, 2019

Creating questions using Bloom’s Taxonomy may help language students develop deeper understanding

January 17, 2019

This month, Keys To Literacy has focused on continuing to implement Bloom’s Taxonomy. In the World Language Department, Bloom’s continues to offer opportunities for students to explore their understanding of texts in more meaningful ways. The six levels of Bloom’s questions are: Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, Create. They are meant to begin at an easy level, where the answer can be easily found in the text, or put into a student’s own words without much effort. As students work up the levels of questioning they are asked to produce more challenging output by critiquing, ranking, and defending their position on the topic. Lastly, (and usually most enjoyably) students create a scenario that did not exist before or make a new product that contains elements of all they had learned.

In Spanish III, students watch a YouTube series called ¡Extra!, and to demonstrate understanding of each episode, they write “questions” based at each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. In class the next day, students share their questions in pairs or small groups. They discuss their peers’ interesting and thought-provoking questions, providing answers as they go. Example here. (Sorry the examples are all in Spanish and you may not understand what is written)! Furthermore, students in Spanish IV are assigned a news article each weekend, and part of their homework is to write a question at each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy that relates to the article. Again, students share their questions in pairs or small groups and thus are able to analyze, evaluate, and understand the content at deep levels. Example here (the Taxonomy questions are found in the third section of the worksheet).

Although the BHS WL teachers enjoy using Bloom’s Taxonomy to allow students to access and understand text that is viewed and read at a deeper level, the method does have its critics. An article was shared by Latin teacher, Gregory Stringer, that provoked interesting discussion among our department and others at a KTL coaches meeting. I have shared the article here, which critiques Bloom’s Taxonomy as being an adequate measure of a language students’ mental processes when producing language. The author, Gianfranco Conti, contends that reading comprehension and writing activities use all three levels (Analyze, Evaluate, and Create) at the same time through different necessary processes. Thus, he argues that differentiating the levels is not very useful or meaningful for language learners. Furthermore, the amount of language skills that a learner has plays a role in which levels of the taxonomy the student can access. He states that a beginner cannot attain proficiency at the top three levels of Bloom’s because they do not have adequate language skills. Output at those levels can be attempted, just without high expectations. The use of Bloom’s Taxonomy in my examples here show how students can write their own questions to demonstrate understanding, whereas Conti seems to criticize the use of Bloom’s Taxonomy as an important means of gauging comprehension and output among students. What do you think?

Friday, January 11, 2019

Quick Writes in Algebra II
by: Jeanne DeRosa

I had the students do a quick write in three parts.  

First, I had them answer some questions, in a think, pair, share activity.

Then I used Padlet to have them hypothesize about what rules we may set for exponents.  You can see their answers here:


Today I am having them look at the board and write what they think, which posts they like the best and why.

We math people can really rock our quick writes!!!

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Middle Child in November 2018
Kerrin Gover

Like the filling of an Oreo cookie, the middle is the best part! Here at MSMS we reap the benefits of all the hard work the elementary staff puts into preparing our students in the KTL strategies. Likewise, we can confidently continue the use of KTL strategies with higher level content so that when students enter BHS they can enjoy academic success almost as much as that chocolate wafer.

Having the fifth grade students learn the strategies for taking 2 column notes has expedited the “I- We-You” process of implementing note taking in 6th grade this year. Students are familiar with the format and we can concentrate on the curriculum content much sooner.

In addition, students are ready to take the note taking skills to the next level. Below is a student generated example of a grade 6 social studies topic.

-Notice that the left side/main idea began as a subheading from their text.

-Students then reread the details on the right side.

-Using the subheading as a “stem” students wrote a more complete main idea on the left.

This simple, reflective, teacher-directed process has allowed student to comprehend these concepts in a more in-depth cohesive way.

Grade 2 
Francis Wyman 
Donna Murphy

Students in grade 2 have been using two column notes to learn about writing summaries. First they sequenced events from the story with pictures and then, with teacher support, they wrote the important events in their own words from the beginning, middle and end of the story. 

The photos show them illustrating their summaries. 


Friday, November 9, 2018

Jill Graham
CPI Biology and KTL

In our inclusion CPI Biology class, we utilized multiple Keys to Literacy strategies to introduce the structure and function of cell organelles, an important yet vocab-dense unit of any Biology course.

First, students took 2 column notes on the the function of each organelle. Please notes, that the color of the rows are important!

Here are some samples of the students’ work:

As you can see in the above examples, students were encouraged to use strategies (such as color and highlighting) to make the notes work for them!

After finishing the two column notes, the students were asked to “turn & talk” with their lab partners at their tables in order to figure out why the organelles were grouped by color:

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Sorting and Categorizing

Liz Clancy; grade 4

In Room 213, at Pine Glen, we have been practicing sorting and categorizing. We started with items in the classroom. We sorted the items by what they were, and then again by color. Then we sorted by its purpose.

When we broke apart into small groups, we practiced sorting household items. What groups can you make for this? Do you sort by its job or do you sort them by where you store the items?

It was a challenge, but we had fun!

2 Column Notes and Definitions, with a Twist
Barbara Sturtevant

I recently did a lesson on physical features for my 6th grade geography students. I provided them with a partially organized 2 column note set that already segmented the vocabulary into categories, though students didn’t know that. The left side column was already filled out, but not the main idea headings or the details on the right. This time though, instead of reading the textbook or me providing definitions, I decided to incorporate some reversed learning. With each waterform, I displayed a few images of the feature. Students studied the images and then had to create a definition that worked to explain what the feature was, and in some cases, how it differed from similar ones. For example, I displayed the following image:

As a class, students puzzled out that gulfs and bays (for 6th graders, there is no need to study the difference!) are both bodies of salt water. Upon closer look, students worked together to evaluate the shapes of the gulfs and bays and came to the conclusion that it must be how the coastline bends around. Words tossed out by students were ‘curved’, ‘u-shaped’ and ‘c-shaped’, in addition to a few gesturing with arms or drawing pretend lines in the air. Students then put the definition down on their 2 column notes, using whatever phraseology worked best for them. Many also included arrows, other diagrams or fully colored sketches.

Instead of providing the definition and having students copy it down, they became more engaged and used many critical thinking skills to decipher meaning and visual literacy. We often ask them to illustrate a word for meaning, but this time the provided image led to meaning. It is also a form of categorizing - why are these landforms grouped together by name? From here, students will transfer their 2 column notes to a top-down web, including creating the category names now knowing the definitions of the places. Hopefully when it’s time to identify physical features in the world and evaluate their uses, these strategies will help students truly understand them!