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Monday, April 9, 2012

Higher Order Thinking Skills and much more!

Last week, I blogged about Bloom's Taxonomy and Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS).  (See April 2, 2012.)  My friend, Andrea, over at One Teacher's Another's Treasure commented that she also uses Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK) Levels and Marzano's Dimensions of Thinking, both of which are new to me.  So, I immediately googled them. Here's what I found. . .

Webb's DOK Levels look like this:

What I like about Webb's model is the 4 levels versus Bloom's 6.  It's always nice to condense things, isn't it?  At least in my realm of preparing dozens of lesson plans each day, less is more!  The 4 level descriptors (the inner circle) boast newer and somewhat clearer concepts.  

Then my eye wanders over the outer circle.  Ouch!  Another sea of verbs to swim through.  The 4th level, presumably the quarter in which we strive to spend most of our time, is curiously short on verbs compared to the other 75%.  Are those 8 verbs/phrases just more succinct?  Or, do they reflect the limitations foisted upon teachers by the Common Core of Teaching Standards, standardized testing, and uniform time lines?  Surely that triad has bearing on it.  

Perhaps there is more to be considered, however.  Is the 4th level truly where teachers strive to  be?  I hope, in my heart of hearts, that the answer is YES.  However, it is possible that some, if not many, teachers find little motivation to work on level 4.  Their efforts are not evaluated by standardized tests, depriving them of extrinsic approval.  Paychecks remain static whether teachers push their students toward extended learning or not.   Indeed, rewards are esoteric.  Certainly the dedicated, professional teacher experiences intrinsic satisfaction.  S/he may even be fortunate enough to receive accolades from students, parents, colleagues, and/or  administrators.  Is that enough? 

In a future blog, I'll discuss Marzano's Depth of Knowledge Levels.  Until then,  I'd love to hear your thoughts about teaching HOTS.  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

TAG, You're IT!

It’s about time, teachers, . . . for a little recess.  Today’s game is TAG.  I’ve been tagged by Cassina at Field of Poppies and Heather at Beg, Borrow and Teach to play a game of blog tag.  The rules for this tag game are as follows:
·      Answer the 10 questions she has created or adapted
·      Tag 10 others and create 10 questions for them to answer
·      Leave a comment on each of the 10 “chosen” blogs to tell them about the game

Sounds like fun, so here goes -- 
     Cassina's questions:
1.  Preference of seasons: winter, spring, summer, or fall?  Hmmm, that’s hard.  Definitely NOT winter; hate the cold.  Summer’s fun, but here in the Midwest, it can get miserably humid, which confines me to the indoors.  So, it’s a tie between spring (which is extraordinarily beautiful this year) and fall (which is so full of promise with the start of a new school year).
2.   If you could be a contestant on any game show, what would it be?  Wheel of Fortune; I totally rock at it altho’ they might throw me off when I start screaming at the other contestants, “You don’t need to buy any vowels!!!”
3.   Travel by plane, train, bus, or automobile?  If I can get there in 12 hours or less, I’d definitely drive.  Farther than that, I’m most likely to fly.  My hubs & I love to take road trips and just venture wherever the road takes us.
4.   Board games or video games?  Computer games.  I’m completely addicted to Words with Friends.
5.   What one item would you like to have on a desert island?  My husband!  :)
6.   Fruits or veggies?  Fruits!
7.   One historical event you remember prior to graduating from high school would be. . .?  1st man to walk on the moon.  Yep, I’m that old.
8.   Hobby?  Calligraphy
9.   Cup or cone of ice cream?  Cup
10.    Music genre?  Oldies, like I said, I’m that old, and my generation had the best music hands down.
  Heather's questions:
  1. What tricks/techniques do you have to keep the things you bring home from school to a minimum?  I have a strict rule: Leave it all at school.  When I'm home, it's time for my family.  So, I stay at school until it's all done.
  2. How do you "fake" happiness on the worst of days?  I don't fake.  I can't carry it off.  In general, I tell my kids that I'm having a bad day, so please be patient with me.  It's just incredible how kind and caring even the worst of them can be.
  3. Quick!  You wake up with 10 min. left to get out the door.  What is your go-to piece of clothing that makes you look put-together?  Khakis and a black sweater or top.
  4. Flats or heels?  Flats!!!
  5. How do you make peace with a difficult parent?  Kill them with kindness.  It doesn't always work, but at least I know that I've been the "bigger" person.
  6. What's your most expensive guilty pleasure?  Once every 10 years, I reward myself with a nice piece of jewelry, usually a ring.
  7. Pretend you have an entire weekend to yourself.  How do you spend it?  First, I'd rather not spend it alone; I always want to be with my husband.  Together, we would love a free weekend at the lake, taking twilight cruises, star gazing, and having the peace of getting away from it all.
  8. Favorite TV show?  Touch with Kiefer Sutherland
  9. What was the last book or movie that made you laugh and cry at the same time?  I'm cheating a little here, but it was a video of my granddaughter, Nia, taking her 1st steps.  So, precious and joyous; and she just turned 4 -- way too soon.
  10. What is one skill you possess that would surprise most people if they knew?  I'm a professional calligrapher. However, there is practically NO use for that skill anymore since computers offer so many calligraphic fonts. Bummer.
I’m tagging:
     Abby @ Third Grade Bookworm
     Michelle @ Teach123
     Mrs. Cook @ First Grade Smart Cookies
     Michelle @ No Monkey Business
     Lorraine @ Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies
     Amanda @ Mrs. McDonald's 4th Grade
     Ashleigh @ Education Journey
     Mrs. Mac @ First Class With Mrs. Mac
     Tara @ 4th Grade Frolics

Here are my questions for you:
1.         Favorite holiday?
2.        How long have you been at your current school?
3.        Do you prefer to eat dinner at home or go out to a restaurant?
4.        Location of the best vacation ever?
5.        Have you taught for < or > 20 years?
6.        Favorite author?
7.       Last movie you saw in the theater?
8.       How old is your car?
9.        What is the 1 thing you will NOT eat, no matter what?
10.    Do you still have a land line (phone)?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

HOTS or Bloom's Taxonomy

It's about time, teachers, ... to revisit Higher Order Thinking Skills or HOTS.  If you've been a teacher for more than 5 minutes, you must have some knowledge of Benjamin Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives.  Did you know Benjamin is not actually the author of the taxonomy?  It bears his name simply because he chaired the committee that developed it.  So, the next time someone asks you to chair a committee, you may want to say "Yes."

It seems like Bloom's Taxonomy has been around forever.  Actually, it's been around since 1956, which for most of the educators at work today IS forever.  It's been 56 years and it's still going strong.  Although, it has morphed some over the decades.  When 1st proposed, the taxonomy strove to deal with 3 domains of education: cognitive, affective, & psychomotor.  The goal of the 3 domains was to produce holistic education.  Over time, however, the cognitive domain has become the taxonomy we all think of when Bloom's Taxonomy is mentioned.  In fact, each domain was to have it's own handbook, but after publishing the cognitive domain  handbook, it took 8 years for the affective domain handbook to be written and the psychomotor domain handbook was never written!

Too often, I think, the taxonomy is taught and used in educating gifted and talented learners.  That may be a matter of practicality.  The taxonomy is scaffolded; the lower levels must be broad and strong in order for the upper levels to be built. In an age of standardized testing mania, knowledge and comprehension, the foundation levels, are the name of the game. Since those are the most easily evaluated components, performance is naturally based on those levels.  And so, I surmise that only the teachers of G/T have the time to work on the upper levels of the taxonomy since their students, presumably, have the requisite knowledge and understanding.    

Let's not dwell in the basement, teachers!  It takes more work to bring your students to the upper levels of the taxonomy. The payoff, however, is well worth the effort.  Who doesn't want to spend their time in the penthouse rather than the basement?

Following is Bloom's Taxonomy model in 2 versions:

Any student of the taxonomy knows that there are lists of verbs to help us remember how to incorporate each level into our teaching.  While I am a visual learner, perusing those lists tends to make my eyes roll to the back of my head.  So, I created the following visual to expeditiously remind me what each level should look like.

I don't know if Easter eggs brought this to mind or the hatchlings that spring promises us, but I do know that teachers everywhere need to break out of their shells and push their students to work in the higher levels.  Our children deserve to be grade A educated.

Now I'll climb down from my soap box and get back to dyeing eggs.