In the previous post about cooperative work we mentioned high order thinking skills, also known as HOTS in the education sector, which are often cited in contrast to LOWS, or low order thinking skills. In fact, as we can see in the image, both types of cognitive skills appear in what is known as Bloom's Taxonomy.
The six levels are:
Knowledge: ability to recall and recognise facts, information and skills.
Comprehension: ability to understand, describe and compare facts, information and skills.
Application: ability to use acquired information, knowledge and facts.
Analysis: ability to examine new information.
Evaluation: ability to assess information and ideas.
Creation: ability to generate and design new ideas and concepts.
Why is it important to keep this pyramid in mind when planning any learning experience? Because it represents the key passages that our students would have to experience in order to develop meaningful and, therefore, lifelong learning. To each section of the pyramid correspond some exemplifying verbs that help us in the task of planning and organising the different tasks and activities.
In the PYP, when planning cooperatively, we keep this taxonomy in mind in order to accompany our students towards their autonomous learning, step by step, as Vygotsky's scaffolding theory postulates and, for example, if I want to introduce the topic of "historical sources" to my third grade students I would do it using some of these activities in this same order:
Examples of activities at the REMEMBERING level: assessing prior knowledge, learning by heart the definition of 'historical source', remembering the different types of sources and some very important ones for historians, etc.
Examples of activities at the UNDERSTANDING level: organising different historical sources by typology, making an outline of the characteristics of each type, etc.
Examples of activities at the APPLYING level: bring to class different types of historical sources that can show us how our ancestors, as parents, grandparents, etc., lived. Interviewing parents, grandparents and older people within the educational community about specific topics.
Examples of activities at the ANALYZING level: write a description of the parts of one of the sources found, tell how, where and why it was used, whether it was easily reproducible, its cost, and the differences with its current version. Find out if other classmates have brought similar objects and check for differences and commonalities. Design a mind map about the sources and their characteristics.
Examples of activities at EVALUATING level: formulate a judgement about which sources are the most relevant or interpret the meaning of a source in relation to its environment, etc.
Examples of activities at CREATING level: creating a presentation on the historical sources analysed, creating a timeline to illustrate how certain objects have evolved over time, setting up a museum, etc.
As you can imagine, this whole process - which goes hand in hand with the different types of assessment, customisation of learning, etc. - could be applied to any topic of any subject we would like to work on with our students; moreover, the older and more cognitively developed they are, the more complex and exhaustive the planned activities can be. Finally, you will also have noticed how the need to use and develop these skills is closely related to the development of the competences prescribed by the curriculum; indeed, if we define a competence as the complex set of knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, emotions and motivations that each individual puts into action in a specific context to cope with the peculiar demands of each situation, our minds automatically go to the top level of the pyramid.
Therefore, knowing and knowing how to apply Bloom's taxonomy becomes a necessary ability for all teachers and not only for those of us who work in IB schools.
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