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?

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