Ways of Knowing

I first learned about Bloom’s Taxonomy—a hierarchy of knowledge—back in graduate school and it opened my eyes as to the primary role of a classroom teacher: to guide students to deep understandings. I used Bloom’s ideas to create scaffolded questions for students as we explored literature and I still do to this day.

After many years of utilizing the hierarchy as a teaching tool I realized that I did this transparently. In other words, the students didn’t consciously realize that I was probing the depth of their knowledge and guiding them to deeper understandings. They were just being compliant in attempting to answer my questions.

As you are no doubt aware, students don’t know what they don’t know, nor do they know that they don’t know. This truism is the lens through which I examine my own teaching techniques and effectiveness. So, why not make them aware of the different levels of knowledge, I wondered. Perhaps Bloom’s Taxonomy could be a learning tool as well as a teaching technique. Perhaps it would make them aware, in a concrete and explicit way, that there are many ways of knowing, that knowledge has depth and breadth, and that all concepts have interdisciplinary aspects. If it worked, they would know that they don’t know. Only then could they become active participants in their own learning.

It worked better than expected. Students were able to develop new mindsets as they explored the depth and breadth of their own knowledge across the various disciplines (math, science, social studies, language arts, etc.). Since then, I’ve revised and updated the taxonomy for the 21st. century.

If you hope for your students to become seekers of knowledge, servants of curiosity, and enlightened participants (a lofty goal, I know!), check out my screencast video and feel free to use it in your classroom.

If you find it useful, you can find the full presentation, which includes classroom activities, tasks, and reproducibles suitable for upper-elementary, middle school, and secondary students in my store at:

#educationaltheory #professionaldevelopment #interdisciplinarylearning #teachingtechniques #scaffoldingtechniques #questioningstrategies

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