After you defined you idea in a post or an article do you have problems explaining it to a reader that does not understand what you have said? Is it difficult for you develop your ideas and to show how they apply to the real world? Is it hard for you to analyze your ideas or the ideas of others so that you can compare and contrast them to alternative ideas? Is there a problem when you try to integrate your ideas into the larger whole and revise it as you formulate a more complete version of your idea? Do you fall short when you try to prove your idea or determine its value in the context of existing ideas to show how it is better than another idea presented by your opponent?
If your answer to any of those questions are YES, then this is a good place to start. Bloom's Taxonomy may change your life. Each of the above phrases represent different levels of learning that are addressed in Bloom's Taxonomy. Bloom's is a classification of the different levels of understanding and a basis of a methodology to learn how to improve your ability to use these various levels of thought in your everyday life. It involves the interrelationship of knowledge that you have and the ability of your brain to process this information in different ways.
Bloom's is not about intelligence. Bloom's is about using your intelligence in a more complete and efficient manner. For some, Bloom's is a natural way of doing things and can be used without ever having heard of Bloom and his Taxonomy. Some people call it "common sense". Some people don't even realize that they are using or not using these different levels of thinking and understanding. What ever you current level of understanding and thinking happens to be, Bloom's Tax. can help you to learn to do it better.
Bloom's will not tell you what to think, it will only help you to think more deeply. B'sT is not propaganda. If you are a conservative, the chance that you will turn into a liberal if you learn to think more deeply is no greater than a liberal learning to think more deeply will turn into a conservative. Its not about that. It is about learning to use your experiences and knowledge better and its value is much deeper than defending your ideas in NewsVine. But NewsVine is a good place to practice as you can easily incorporate Bloom's into your posts and you will see a wide range of the levels in all seeds on NewsVine. You can learn to see the level of the posts and you can respond in a manner to address that post with a more direct response to either support or to refute what you have read.
And it is simple to do! Each level of learning has question formats or prompts that force your brain to work in certain ways. By using these prompts, you are creating pathways in your brain to make certain types of information available to achieve the various levels of thought. The more you use and think in the terms of these questions, the more easily your brain can organize the information you already know to provide you with a better understanding of what you are reading or thinking.
Here is a link to a search of Bloom's Taxonomy for your convenience. Its a Google search and you should see many sites that talk about B'sT and some pictures that illustrate the different levels. The best way to get started is to look around the illustrations to see which appeal to your personal life style and that you can easily understand. There are a lot to choose from and they all come to the same basic process so this is not really the most crucial decision, any choice will be beneficial and you can change at any time.
In teaching, Bloom's T. is a strategy that helps students to understand what "understanding" means. Students can sometimes "learn" to believe that the definition and being able to repeat the definition of a word or concept is understanding. Well, it is, but it is only the FIRST step in learning what understanding means. This is not the end it is only the beginning. The Bloom's Taxonomy is a tool that is used to generate higher level thinking skills.
Bloom's Tax will not make you more intelligent, but it will help you to make better use of your intelligence. I have seen a great variation on the levels of understanding on NewsVine and unfortunately there are a lot of the lower level examples to be found than the higher level examples as you read the posts. If you go to that link Bloom's Taxonomy you will see several links. They all will cover the same basic material but in ways suited to different learning styles. Poke around a bit and see what best suites your style and see how well you can understand YOUR point of view. By doing so, you will then be able to use the same process to try to understand another point of view and then judge it on its merits and not on how you "feel" about it.
If the point of view is looked at in various ways and it seems to work for what it is intended to do, then it has merit. That does not mean that it is the best point of view, but it does mean that it is a valid point of view. It will have stood up to analysis and is worthy of discussion. You might also find that some of your points of view are not so good. It allows you to see them for what they are and to see if you can improve your point of view in order to make your life better. You might find that your "opponent" has some parts of his view that would make your life better but you don't think that other parts of his view work so well.
Bloom's Tax is not meant to tell you what to think. It is designed to help you understand how to think on a higher level. It will not change your opinions. It will give you insight into your opinions and it will help you to learn more about your opinions but it will not do anything that will change your opinions unless you learn something about your opinion that you want to change. Bloom's Tax is a method of learning the strong parts of your idea and the weak points about it. It has nothing to do with the merits of your opinion, it only helps you to understand it better and to see what it really means.
Remember, that most of us are at least familiar with some of these levels by another name. Unless one has studied it from an educational point of view, you may just lump them all into what is generally called "common sense." You may or not know all of his levels and you may know them by different names. It is not a really mysterious thing, it is just a method to help you reach your potential.
Ok, enough already. How does it work?
Well, lets start with the 1st two levels of Bloom's Taxonomy and some key words that helps to describe that level so that we can get used to the process. They are levels that most of us already have but we can use them to learn how to approach the other four levels that will come in the next article in the series. I have chosen this terminology from a number of sources and remember, it is the PROCESS that is important. As we learn to increase the levels that we already know, we will be learning how to add the other levels that we will discover. In the meantime, this can be very productive in itself as well as fun. You can use any topic to increase these skills so you and a friend can practice (even if the friend doesn't know you are practicing!) by discussing a movie that you see together, a sporting event that you shared seeing or any activities that are of interest for you to discuss and/or explain to someone else or even to yourself. That is a very nice thing about process learning, the process is the important thing and once learned, you can use it for fun or profit or for what ever reason that suits your needs.
LET'S GET STARTED!
Knowledge / Remember -- know the definitions and information associated with words or ideas. The ability to recall or to recognize something by its definition or to define something in the way you learned it. In other words, "memorize the dictionary" type of understanding. If you see the word, for example, you can repeat the definition that you learned. In this level, you can recite the definition, but you may or may not fully understand all that you have remembered.
Words to help understand -- Define, identify, memorize, remember, show, state, point to list
Question phrases -- Describe what happens when ____. Outline the points of _____. What is ____?
Comprehension / Understand -- this level requires one to understand the definition in another form that still keeps the meaning. If you recite the definition to your child, for example, and the answer is "Huh?" This level is represented by the ability to explain it to him in a way that he understands it correctly. It is the ability to not just repeat the definition, but to explain it in your own words or in the words of the person you are talking to so that the idea itself is understood.
Words to help understand -- Explain, rephrase, summarize, translate, restate
Question phrases-- How can you describe______? Elaborate on______. How would you compare___? What is the main idea of___?
Quick start: These are the descriptions, the power words and the question formats that we will be working with in this article. The short explanation is to use the question phrases to formulate questions that you work to provide the answer. Research, discussion, asking people, looking for examples or anything that you can do to come up with an answer is allowed. It is not really possible to cheat. Your first attempts might be very simple and based upon a limited number of facts. That is OK. It is the process that is important. Start with a simple definition and memorize it. Then see if you can explain it in your own words. Then try a more difficult word. Then a simple idea. Define the idea and then see how you can use the additional words and questions in the charts or illustrations that you have chosen from the search and see how many different questions you can use to redefine this idea or word. Don't stop with just one, use as many as you can with as many examples as you can. The more you practice the more easily for your brain to set up its infrastructure to make the process easy and effortless.
Some thoughts about Bloom's and its use place in education
These are the first two levels of understanding. If you can answer these types of questions about a subject you understand them on these two levels. This level of understanding will get you a High School Diploma on the basic or standard level. You might not be an A student, but you would have the thinking skills to graduate from High School. You of course have to study to learn the facts and you would have to spend time to learn the facts and knowledge in Level 1 to use them on level 2 for the exams and essays you would have to produce. Your intelligence would determine how quickly and how well you do for your GPA, but you wold have the necessary thinking and understanding skills to do well in High School if you so desire.
In a college prep High School, you would be exposed to the next two levels and you would begin to see that there are other ways of understanding but you would most likely be learning about these skills on a basic level at school. This is, however, not to say that you are limited to these two levels of thinking. Many people don't "learn" these skills by studying. They learn by example, by innate understanding, by listening to people that use these and higher level thinking and modeling their thinking style and just by being a curious person! If you were not fortunate to learn these skills, fortunately, if you know about Bloom's Tax, you can prepare yourself for college even if you did not get the proper training in High School to prepare you for what will be expected of you in college.
Where might you be tested on your Bloom's levels of thought?
There is another side of the coin that is related to the Bloom's Tax. These two levels are evident in your speech and writing. Yes. Every time you express yourself, you are telling anyone that is listening what your thinking levels are. If you only talk using the levels 1 and 2, you are telling the world that you are at this level of thinking. The MEDIA that you use for communicating transmits the MESSAGE of how deeply you think of things. Talking, writing are the obvious forms of MEDIA that people use and they are very conducive to levels 1 & 2. But if you are an artist, your media will be as deep as your level of understanding. If you are an athlete, your levels will affect how well you understand what is going on during the game and people watching you play will see this in the way you approach the game. Business? Yes, understanding the terms and principles of investing or in business will show through with your choice of investments and the way you conduct your business. Your levels of thinking are evident in what ever media you use to express yourself.
And, you are on display with everything you do. Ever wonder what your employer is looking for when making choices for promotions and retention or dismissal when it is time to "trim the herd"? Well, sucking up won't hurt. Being the nephew of his wife is a big asset as are degrees and qualifications. But if you don't have these helpful attributes and your employer is a high level thinker, and most of them are as that is why they are the boss, then even if he has never heard of Bloom, he will see that you have higher level thinking skills and you will catch his eye not by the facts that you know, not by the degrees that you have or don't have, not by the clothes you wear, (well, that too is expressed by your level of thinking) but he will notice that you understand him when others don't know quite what he is talking about.
Care here, is necessary, however, as if you have reached a higher level of thinking than him, he will be threatened and that is not a feeling you want to instill in your boss. Fortunately, unless you "flout" your thinking skills in his face, he will only notice that you can understand him and you will be all right. And, if he is a real higher up and he has all the thinking skills and good intelligence, he will want to have you around because he will not want you for an adversary and he would rather keep you happy so that you can make money for him and reward you for your efforts.
So this is the first two levels. Most of us on NewsVine are at least somewhat proficient at the first two levels. Many are at higher levels and many are on lower levels. Remember, I am not talking about simple intelligence. I am talking about the ability to work at different levels and see things in different ways.
Pop quiz! Can you remember a definition and repeat it back? Can you listen to an explanation of something and recall what it is called if you have studied it before and the explanation is similar to the one you studied?
If your answer is YES, then you have learned to think on Level 1.
Pop Quiz #2: If you learned the words in the 1st Amendment to our Constitution and you are asked to explain it to a child, can you take the words that you know and explain it in a manner that he can understand it? Can you explain a verse from the bible that you learned in Sunday school to someone that does not know it in simple, everyday language? Can you isolate the facts and ideas in the story that you read that give the essential meaning of a news story that you read?
If your answer to these questions is YES, you are using Level 2 thinking skills.
If you have trouble thinking in either of these manners, (repeating what you know, or explaining what you know) you can improve these skills by taking the time to answer questions about things that interest you using the Essential or Power Words given in each of the levels you are working on and working through and figuring out how YOU can put the pieces together to answer the questions. You can do it your self because you will get benefits of learning the PROCESS even if you are not perfect with the facts. Yes, you are really only trying to teach your brain how to process the information. Good and accurate information is the goal, but even if you make mistakes, just by learning how to compare two things will be enhancing your PROCESS of thinking on this level. Of course, I am always willing to help an interested student to learn, but you can also find someone you know that might be easier to talk to than I am and you will be more at ease if you can find a friend to help. It will also give you someone to practice with on topics that you both like. If you explain something to a friend and they understand what you have explained, then you have done it correctly. If your friend can explain something to you and you understand it, again, both of you have made progress. Ask a friend or tell a friend what you observed or what was the main idea of a movie that you saw together and if this information is returned, then both of you are practicing the first two levels of understanding and thinking.
Yes it is that simple. This is where you should start if you want to improve your skills. We already pretty much know these two levels and that makes it easier to learn the PROCESS of learning how to think on various levels. When I get to the next article, you will be ready to proceed to see how well you do on the 3rd and 4th levels. This is when it starts to get really interesting. For now, it is important to learn the process of learning how to think.
The next two levels are Application and Analysis. In order to understand these two, you will do better if brush up on what is involved in levels of Knowledge and Comprehension. They will be tools used for Application and Analysis so it is important to learn both the PROCESS of using the Power Words that describe the Levels as well as the PROCESS of using Question Prompts to practice these skills.
If you go through the PROCESS, your brain will do the rest! It will make the connections and will set up the programs inside your head that will facilitate your using these levels of thinking and understanding. All you have to do to increase your level of understanding its to go through the process. You will get better at it and your level of understand will go up.
Notice also, that there is no mention of What you think, it is all about How you think. Learning to think will not turn a conservative into a liberal. It will not turn a liberal into a conservative. It will make the conservative understand what he is saying and it will make the liberals understand what they are saying and it will help both of them to better tell when they are being told the truth and when they are not. Lots of people say that ALL politicians are crooked and bad. I don't agree. Some are and some are not and there are degrees of being crooked and bad. Increasing your levels of understanding will help you to see which ones are different and if they are different for the better or if they are different for the worse. Do they have a solution that might work? or do they have a solution that is not what they claim? These are important things to know if you want to be part of an informed electorate.
I hope that you have learned something from this article and I will be writing a follow up to cover more levels. Remember that the link above will give you a huge amount of reading material concerning these ideas. I am not making them up, they are tried and true techniques of education that are very important in teaching the student to think and learn for themselves. I hope that you will allow me to help you to make our country better by helping to build upon our Informed Electorate so that we can elect better candidates and help our country to get out of this mess.
Thank you and you are welcomed and I encourage you to pick a topic and run it through the fist two levels as comments. Pick a topic and I will be happy to get you started and offer suggestions as to how you can practice and learn to do this with a friend or by yourself or however you want to learn. I am interesting in your thinking better and not converting you to anything. Give it a try. All you can lose are some of the problems that we are all dealing with in our everyday lives. There really is not a down side to learning how to think better. Just remember, the homework for now is to practice levels 1 & 2. The fun starts with the next two levels and the 5th and 6th is where a whole new world will open up a whole new world for those that have not had the opportunity to learn this and you can do it with any topic that YOU enjoy. What a deal!
Lets go. Get ready. Get set. Go put your thinking caps on!
You can find Help Your Opinions to Bloom! PartII by clicking the link.