Diary submitted by Pariise D., Valencia, 2020
Bloom’s Taxonomy offers a useful way of thinking about the different types of cognitive processes that students can use to engage with knowledge. How can you incorporate them into your lesson planning?
Learning a foreign language can sometimes be a difficult process. Having been in both shoes – as a student learner of Spanish and French as well as in the position of a TEFL teacher – I believe I have learnt how to adapt classes to ensure not only are my students going through the curriculum but truly understanding what they have learnt and applying into their daily life. Using Bloom’s Taxonomy, I am going to describe how I have implemented the six steps within my classes. I will go into brief details of the stages starting from the bottom up.
Level one focuses on memory and the ability to recall facts. In many ways one can argue this is the easiest stage of learning. I often challenge my students by playing a game I refer to as ‘vocabulary elimination’ in which students must go around in a circle saying topic related vocabulary. Students cannot repeat words their peers have said. This works as both a great warm up or closer. The game is particularly enjoyed by my 10 year olds who compete enthusiastically. In doing so, not only do they enjoy themselves but expand their vocabulary.
The second level is the element of understanding. Students, particularly shy ones, can often pretend to have a grasp of vocabulary simply by repeating what their peers have said. However, in order to understand, students must be capable of explaining the ideas. For example, to check my ¾ ESO (14-15 year olds) understanding, I use vocabulary and definition match up games. This activity encourages the students to work as a group and match the words with the selected definitions. I often print flashcards from Quizlet as it provides a great variety of vocabulary essential to language acquisition.
I encourage students to apply (Level 3) the gained knowledge by writing brief sentences with a few chosen words of their choice. This allows them to not only practice their writing skills but implement new vocabulary in the correct context. As the data in the graphs suggest, this form of teaching is very unpopular among students. Nevertheless it is an important element in the journey to fluency. To create an engaging lesson I use this as a brief activity and play games afterwards as a reward. Consequently, students become eager to complete the work so they can return to the more interesting activities.
Analysing (Level 4) through reading comprehension with topic related jargon seems to be quite productive. It allows the students to see the words in another context. Not only does it improves reading skills but it can provide an opportunity to practice pronunciation. This is particularly important for 16 year old B2 students as the Cambridge exam has a section where students are expected to discuss a chosen picture. They also have a reading comprehension section. It therefore becomes vital that the students are confident to tackle new and at times difficult texts by analysing the vocabulary at hand. Being able to learn how language works in various contexts improves students’ confidence.
Level five focuses on evaluation. I encourage my students to debate topics that are of interest to them. It keeps them engaged and makes lessons a fun learning environment. To ensure everyone participates equally, each student is handed a card to write brief notes to contribute to the class discussion. Lastly, level six is creation. I often give my students one long written task per topic, it is normally a topic that has previously been debated. During these writing classes, students are expected to produce a piece of work of up to 400 words. Usually at this point, students have intensely studied the vocabulary with the variety of games explained earlier in this essay.
Having seen the theory, I support the view that the Taxonomy “gives them a way to think about their teaching—and the subsequent learning of their students.”
Bloom’s Taxonomy. (2010, June 10). Vanderbilt University. https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/
Figure 4.10: Teachers’ Awareness of Their Students’ Preferred Learning… (n.d.). ResearchGate. Retrieved 13 April 2020, from https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Teachers-Awareness-of-Their-Students-Preferred-Learning-Style-in-Learning-English_fig4_274780335