|Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.6 No.7||July 2009|
|Cover Story by Lawrence Meyers|
|Is There Such a Thing as "The Great Teacher"?|
|You can make up all the checklists you want. You can take advice from your mentors. At the end of the day, what lies behind one's teaching style is what matters. A "Great Teacher" is the right teacher at the right time, at the right place.|
|Harry & Rosemary Wong: Effective Teaching|
|Teachers Are the Difference|
|Now in her sixth year of teaching, Melissa Dunbar has helped her students achieve a pass rate of between 92% - 99% over the years, with her ESL and Economically Disadvantaged students achieving a 100% pass rate this past school year!|
|»||Writing for Educational Publishers – Inside Secrets Sue Gruber|
|»||Self-Injury In Children Leah Davies|
|»||The School of No Knocks? Todd R. Nelson|
|»||Using Imaging to Move or Change Behavior Marvin Marshall|
|»||The Busy Educator's Monthly Five Marjan Glavac|
|»||Substitute issues: What to Wear & Too Much Love Barbara Pressman|
|»||Student Travel Topics: “Staycations” Expose Students to Other Cultures & Packing for Safety Josette Bonafino|
|»||Making The Case to Parents for Broadening, Not Narrowing, The Curriculum Dorothy Rich|
|»||Red Basket & Problem Solving Forms Rick Morris|
|»||The No.1 Ladies Detective Series Writer - Interview with Alexander McCall Smith Tim Newlin|
|»||Teachers and Technology: A Field of Dreams? Matt Levinson|
|»||Resources for Teaching Students with Autism Alan Haskvitz|
|»||Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy to Questioning Techniques in the Classroom Panamalai R. Guruprasad|
|»||Tips on Maximizing High School Physics Teaching Stewart E Brekke|
|»||The Most Cost Effective Approach to Improve Teacher Education Edward Strauser|
|»||Merit Pay Problematic, Money Is Not the Ultimate Motivator for Teachers Marion Brady|
|»||Launches an Online Degree in Special Education Drexel University|
|»||Apple Seeds: Inspiring Quotes Barb Stutesman|
|»||Today Is... Daily Commemoration Ron Victoria|
|»||The Lighter Side of Teaching|
|»||Video Bytes; Assume The Position, Lost Generation, Bathtub IV, Walk On - ESPN Video, Funeral, Heal, and At Home with Mrs. Hen|
|»||Teacher Blogs Showcase|
|»||Printable - Sweet Rules for the Classroom|
|»||Featured Lessons, Wisdom from the Chat Achives, and Timely Printables Especially for July!|
|»||Getting and Keeping the Attention of 3 & 4 Year Olds|
|»||Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers|
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Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy to Questioning Techniques in the Classroom
How to frame your questions so they will help develop students’ higher order thinking skills…
|by Panamalai R. Guruprasad
Regular contributor to the Gazette
July 1, 2009
A few months back, I read the following classroom joke on the web:
Middle school science teacher: What is germination?
As teachers, all of us have studied Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives1 in our teacher training programs before entering the profession. In many countries, the taxonomy is used in all the three core areas of school processes: curriculum development, classroom interaction and assessment of pupil learning. In my work, I have used the taxonomy as well as other effective structures when planning my questioning techniques in the classroom. In this article, I am sharing my experience of using Bloom's taxonomy to increase the skill levels of children, by illustrating specific examples.
Bloom talks about 7 skills, in the ascending order of their complexity, as shown below:
In my work with teachers, I had tried to train them as to how any one question (that can be addressed to children) can be modified to raise skill levels, as illustrated in the following examples:
For instance, "What is the capital of Cambodia?" tests a lower order skill (Bloom's objective 1) whereas "What makes Phnom Penh suitable to be the capital city of Cambodia?" tests objective 3 at the very least.
"What is matter?" which is related to Bloom’s objective 1, can be converted to "Imagine that there are 3 identical glass containers filled with colored water, sand and a gas respectively, and placed in front of you. Which of the containers would have the largest mass? Explain your reasoning". The modified question is deeper and is related to Bloom’s objective 2.
Another high order question (corresponding to Bloom’s objectives 1, 3 and 4) is as follows: "You are traveling on a road by bus. On the way, there is a culvert. As the bus slows down and approaches the culvert very closely, the driver suspects that the culvert and the bus are of the same height and hence the bus cannot move any further. To confirm his doubt, he measures the heights and finds that they are equal. However, the bus has to pass the culvert. If you were the driver, how can you solve the problem? [When I once presented this question to teacher trainees, it took a few minutes for one of them to suggest a practical solution: Deflate the tires, push the bus past the culvert and then inflate].
Some times the same question may be perceived differently by different people, particularly by the teacher and the learner as the following examples illustrate:
I remember the question "What is photosynthesis?" that I set in a test paper for my middle school biology children, 30 years back. Some kids answered "It is a botanical process". Although I knew that the answer is correct, I was reluctant to give them full mark, as it was not the answer that I expected. I expected the answer to be as follows: Photosynthesis is a process by which plants make their own food". The next day, I realized that the problem was that I was not precise in my questioning. My question should have been "How do plants make food?" or "What happens in a green leaf during photosynthesis?" That is, actual wording in questions can be seen to be related to the tested skill level.
In most developing countries teachers rely heavily on textbooks, probably because of quantity driven syllabi or lack of adequate time for them to prepare high order questions. For this reason, I think that textbook publishing industry should strive to include "out of the box" questions, examples of which are as follows:
Once in 1985, I introduced "wave motion", a middle school physics concept, by displaying a few photographs of water ripples to my students and mentioning that the knowledge gained at the end of the lesson could help them to avert problems and dangers associated in swimming. I changed the usual textbook question "State the relationship between wavelength of a water ripple and the depth of water" to "Look at the `snapshot' overhead view of crests of water ripples formed as a result of interference of ripples from two sources, in a water reservoir, as shown in the fig. below":
Point out the deepest region and explain your reason for thinking so. Do you t think that this knowledge is very important to swimmers?"
Twenty years back, when I was teaching in Southern Africa, I had gone to a shopping mall in Gaborone, at around 1 PM on a hot day. I had parked my car and left for shopping by keeping my videotape inside the rear windshield, by mistake. The tape was wound around two spools in a black colored plastic structure. When I came back to my car after an hour, the plastic structure was in a melted condition. I displayed the videotape to my class and asked my students "Explain the reason why the tape melted. How could I have averted the problem?". After a few minutes of silent thinking, many of my students could come up with solutions. Although I lost my videotape, I gained confidence that my students understood the concept "Dark colored objects absorb heat more effectively than light colored objects"!
Sometimes, questions can lead children to think beyond the subject boundaries as the following examples illustrate:
"Our bones are cylindrical in shape. In many houses, the pillars are spherical in shape. Cylindrical shape is associated with strength. How can you prove the statement by doing a simple activity?" This question can enable children perform a simple activity to prove the concept. Mathematically inclined children can use their math skills to prove the concept, with teacher guidance if needed.
"You are at a construction site. You happen to see a small sparrow trapped in a 1 foot long hole, the diameter of which is such that the sparrow cannot get out on its own. How can you save the sparrow? (Clue: Use your knowledge of Archimedes Principle to solve the problem)". This question can make children appreciate the utility value of science concepts.
While appropriate questioning techniques are inevitably important in all types of classroom processes, their implementation in web based situations requires teachers to possess not only very good content knowledge but also technical expertise of the web based tool/s that they use. (This is one reason why real time, activity based classroom processes are better than those which use virtual reality environments unless the former is impossible in any given context).
Having said all this, there are numerous instances in which even very effective questions fail to evoke desired pupil response. One of the main reasons for this problem, as I have seen, is that children are not given adequate time to respond (to questions). Numerous research studies and my own experience in classrooms have proved that an increase in wait time enables children to give `high level’ responses to teachers’ questions. My own classroom questioning skills improved after reading the article `Interaction of wait time, feedback and questioning instruction in middle school science teaching’2 written by Swift and Gooding, twenty six years back!
1 Bloom, B.S.(Ed). (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain. New York: Longman, Green & Co.
2 Swift J N and Gooding C T (1983). Journal of Research in Science Teaching. Vol. 20, (721 - 730).
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