Bloom’s Taxonomy was originally developed by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom in 1956 and revised by researchers Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl in 2001. It is a model of learning that focuses not on content and instruction, but on how students think, and how best to promote cognition and understanding in students. This approach classifies, in a hierarchical way, the various objectives and skills that teachers hope to help students achieve.
How Does Bloom’s Taxonomy Work?
According to Bloom, high-level cognition is dependent on a strong foundation of lower-level skills on which they are built. There are six levels in the sequence of cognitive skills:
- Remembering (copying, defining, listening, outlining and memorizing)
- Understanding (annotation, summarizing, paraphrasing and contrasting)
- Applying (articulating, examining, implementing and interviewing)
- Analyzing (categorizing, breaking down, organizing and questioning)
- Evaluating (arguing, testing, assessing and criticizing)
- Creating (collaborating, devising, writing and mixing)
This model of learning favors thinking and understanding over the currently trending focus on the development of cutting-edge curriculum and data-driven student assessment.
Strategies for Lesson Planning
Because Bloom’s Taxonomy is based on a specific hierarchy of learning levels, each level is a vital part of learning to achieve deeper, more advanced cognitive skills and abilities. Building upon each level in your lesson plans will guide students to think in “increasingly sophisticated ways,” according to TES. Creating diverse lesson plans around each level of learning can also be enhanced by contemporary approaches like using technology or encouraging student-led lesson plans.
Current academic environments often diminish the importance of the first level of learning — remembering. However, all six levels are important to the success of the Bloom’s Spiraling process. Remembering or memorizing broadens and makes a student’s knowledge base more diverse, according to TeachThought, stretching their abilities and giving them information to use in higher levels of knowledge.
For example, in the language arts, start with memorizing a poem, move on to understanding it, and so forth, using that same text through all the other levels of learning. By the end of the process, students have the foundation and skills to create original works based on their accumulated ideas and deepened understanding of the literary form and subject matter.
Educator Mike Gershon, author of “How to Use Bloom’s Taxonomy in the Classroom,” developed several approaches to lesson planning using the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
- Divide the taxonomy into three sections: remember and understand, apply and analyze, and evaluate and create. Then, divide your lesson into three segments and apply each of the learning levels above. For example, in the first segment, use listing, summarizing, explaining to a partner, and paraphrasing through each level of learning.
- Create differentiated lessons with the “All/Most/Some” design. Selecting the levels of learning most appropriate to your students determines expected outcomes. For example, “All students will remember and outline the concept, most students will understand and summarize the concept, and some students will analyze and organize the concept.”
- Create a “task bank” of activities and questions for each learning level, and have it ready to consult when planning lessons and defining objectives.
Although challenging for many students, practicing self-evaluation and the concepts of criticizing, reframing, defending, appraising and grading can be a valuable assessment tool for both students and teachers. Using the structure of Bloom’s system, students can self-assess using written reflection and peer interviewing. After an assignment is completed students use a mark scheme or teacher-made guidelines to write down what they see as their weaknesses and strengths. Then, pairing up with another student, they compare their observations, sharing insights as well as responses to what they had in common and in which ways they differed. A whole-class, teacher-led discussion follows, with additional sharing and comments. The skill of self-evaluation will serve students well, as they use and understand complicated concepts in the future.
Bloom’s Taxonomy provides a strong alternative to standardized testing and a hyper focus on performance and conformity. By encouraging students to think critically and work through more and more sophisticated thought processes, it brings back into the educational picture something that has been lacking for quite some time: helping students develop ways to understand, analyze and synthesize knowledge.