Different Ways to Look at Bloom's Taxonomy

Helpful things to consider when looking at Bloom's Taxonomy in a different way.

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Different Ways to Look at Bloom's Taxonomy

Most teachers, whether they are new or a seasoned veteran, are familiar with the concept of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s system of classification was developed in the 1950’s and identified six different levels of human thought: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. These six levels move from the least difficult in complexity (knowledge) to the most difficult (evaluation). I was first introduced to the concept of Bloom’s Taxonomy when I was a student teacher. We worked to devise different levels of questions at the various levels of the structure in order to differentiate instruction and meet the needs of all the learners in our classroom.

A New Look at Bloom's Taxonomy

During the past year, I have been working to complete a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. In my coursework, I have been reintroduced to the concept of Bloom’s Taxonomy and was introduced to a different way of looking at it. My instructor suggested that we look at it as a hierarchy: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create. It is very similar to Bloom's Taxonomy, but takes a new approach. This breakdown made the concept more simple to understand and implement, at least for me.

The First Level: Remember

For the students at the first level, remember, you can provide a recall activity that asks students to remember definitions for vocabulary words, grammar terms, literary devices, or so forth. This is just a test of students' rote memorization abilities. In my class, we often do an activity that I call, “think, pair, share.” Students study quietly for few minutes, then pair up, and then quiz one another.

The Second Level: Understand

At the second level of the taxonomy, students are asked demonstrate their understanding of a topic. This is the stage that I often refer to as the “put it in writing” step. It takes the first level, remembering, and asks students to show how much they did or did not gain from a lesson. In their writing students can provide an explanation, outline, summary, or a simple paragraph.

The Third Level: Apply

The third level is application. It is in this level that students begin to demonstrate their knowledge—it’s where the rubber begins to meet the road.  For example, when studying vocabulary words students need to show that they can correctly use them in a sentence. Students also need to be able to apply what they have learned to a variety of situations.

The Final Three Levels: Analyze, Evaluate, Create

The final three levels really show me whether or not my students have a firm grasp of the material. Students have to analyze, evaluate, and create. When my students have reached the analysis level, they are able to look at a complex novel and the character motivations from different perspectives. In evaluation, they can look objectively characters in a story and decide which one they feel they identify with the most. Finally, when they are at the creation stage they are able to move beyond the text or the traditional assignments and begin to design their own work.

This new outlook on Bloom’s taxonomy was eye-opening for me. It gave me the opportunity to look with fresh eyes at my own curriculum and think about new approaches to assignments. If you would like some more ideas, here are some lesson plans.

Bloom's Taxonomy Lesson Plans:

And the Streets are Paved with Gold

Students engage with the different levels of Bloom's taxonomy as they explore the immigrant experience on Ellis Island. This is a great history lesson for fourth through eighth grade.

Character's Feelings

Students use the different levels of Bloom's taxonomy to explore a character's feelings from a novel.

Bloomin' Verbs

Students practice conjugating verbs and then create a PowerPoint presentation.

Roll with the Punches: Oprah's On

Students participate in a mock talk show after finishing a novel. They practice using the different levels of Bloom's Taxonomy by asking one another questions.