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Blog about instructional technology. Today is Friday, May 26, 2017

Creating Lesson Plans with a New Taxonomy



In preparation for an endorsement test, I am writing about a topic that has interested me throughout my years as a trainer and educator: learning processes. In the context of this blog, I want to look at how student learning is impacted by technology and how learning can be most positively impacted by technology.

When looking at some of the literature and resources (NewBloom, Student Learning, Bloom's Verbs, Critical Issue, Beyond Bloom), it is evident that learning and student achievement can be positively impacted with technology. However, technology is only the tool that allows students to design, create, communicate and model complex ideas. For technology to be truly effective in  impacting student achievement, it must be linked to learning objectives. This idea is not new to most of us. As educators, all lessons begin with objectives. But how does technology use provide the most significant impact on student learning as measured by achieving high-order thinking and problem solving skills?


Why start with taxonomies? Teaching-tips explains it best, "It is vitally important that teachers do not just teach lower order thinking skills at the bottom of blooms taxonomy such as knowledge and comprehension, but also teach higher order thinking skills at the top of blooms taxonomy such as evaluation.  When students are evaluating and judging and using the higher order thinking skills of blooms taxonomy they are more likely to retain information, perform better on standardized tests, and most importantly, achieve the ultimate goal of becoming lifelong learners."

In the spirit of a blog's concise format, I'll show the breakdown of the classic taxonomy proposed by Bloom as well as an updated version proposed by Anderson and Krathwohl that was cited often in the New Bloom paper.

Level Blooms New
1 Knowledge Remember
2 Comprehension Understand
3 Application Apply
4 Analysis Analyze
5 Synthesis Evaluate
6 (high) Evaluation Create


According to the paper, the new taxonomy "evokes more action" which makes it easier for assessment and to link lessons with technology enhanced activities. Cruz also states this new taxonomy "incorporates both the kind of knowledge to be learned (knowledge dimension) and the process used to learn (cognitive process)". It also includes the ability for the learner to incorporate and evaluate their own thinking strategies by including more opportunities for metacognition. This was done by expanding the knowledge dimension categories to include metacognition. The knowledge dimensions can be summarized as follows (Walsh & Sattes, 2004, pg 41):

Knowledge: Knowledge of terminology and knowledge of specific details and elements.

Conceptual: Knowledge of classifications, principals and generalizations and theories, models and structures.

Procedural: Knowledge of how to do something.

Metacognitive: Knowledge about cognition in general as well as awareness of and knowledge of one's own cognition.


Questions are important aspects of our instructional strategies. They help us to visualize our student's thoughts and learning processes. Questions can be planned and incorporated into the taxonomies to help us ensure that knowledge acquisition is occurring as planned. Here are some sample questions for a technology lesson according to the above taxonomy breakdown. The lesson will have 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders create survey questions about recycling habits of family and classmates. The data will be analyzed in a collaborative Google spreadsheet.

Level Blooms New (with verbs from Cruz's web page.) Question
1 Knowledge Remember: Recognizing, Recalling

1) List 3 things you know about data collection?
2) What is data?
3) What can you tell me about a spreadsheet?

2 Comprehension Understand: Interpreting, exemplifying, classifying, summarizing, inferring, comparing, explaining

1) What were the different data types we collected?
2) Summarize the different methods we used to collect data.
3) Explain what you learned about data collection?

3 Application Apply: Executing, implementing

1) What questions will we ask our audience?
2) What tools can we use to calculate our results?

4 Analysis Analyze: Differentiating, organizing, attributing 1) What does the bar chart tell you about your data?
2) Do you see any commonalities in your data?
3) Why do you think more people recycle at home than bring their own reusable grocery bags to the stores?
5 Synthesis Evaluate: checking, critiquing 1) Did our survey "do its job" in telling us if our family and classmates participate in recycling activities?
6 (high) Evaluation Create: generating, planning, producing 1) If you did this survey again, would you do anything differently?
2) How would you construct a different survey that would evaluate the audience's habits regarding natural resource conservation?

Pulling it all together

Based on the above information, a lesson objective should include one of the four knowledge dimensions and one of the six cognitive processes. Questions can also be planned to help visualize student's learning. Cruz also gives the suggestion to: "Use thenoun in the objective to determine what is being learned: factual, conceptual, procedural, or meta-cognitive knowledge. The verbused in the learning objective will determine which cognitive process dimension column the objective falls under: remember,understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create." By planning your lessons according to this new taxonomy, the lesson will provide more opportunities for higher-level thinking and therefore improved opportunities for knowledge acquisition.

Example lesson plan:

Students will recall (VERB for the REMEMBER cognitive process dimension) prior knowledge of data, spreadsheets and surveys (NOUN for the KNOWLEDGE knowledge dimension) during class discussion.

Students will produce (VERB for the CREATE cognitive process dimension) a survey questionnaire (NOUN for the PROCEDURAL knowledge dimension) in MS Word.

Students will collect (VERB for the APPLICATION cognitive process dimension) survey data (NOUN for the PROCEDURAL knowledge dimension) on questionnaire forms.

Students will enter (VERB for the APPLICATION cognitive process dimension) survey data (NOUN for the PROCEDURAL knowledge dimension) in the class Google spreadsheet.

Students will interpret and compare (VERB for the UNDERSTAND cognitive process dimension) Google spreadsheet data results (NOUN for the CONCEPTUAL knowledge dimension) during class discussion.

Students will interpret and compare (VERB for the ANALYZE cognitive process dimension) a Google spreadsheet graph of survey data (NOUN for the CONCEPTUAL knowledge dimension) during class discussion.

Based on a reflection of survey results (did our survey audience participate adequately in recycling activities or is there room for improvement), students will produce (VERB for the CREATE cognitive process dimension) a "Public Service Poster" (NOUN for the METACOGNITIVE knowledge dimension) with Kerpoof.com that will either educate the survey audience about improving recycling habits or congratulate the survey audience for active recycling participation.

~In my own reflection of this process, I'm not sure that the noun alone describes the knowledge dimension or what is beign learned. It seems to me the objective as a whole best describes the knowledge dimension.

~Comments are welcome and encouraged.


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