Written by: Stacia Garland
We all want our children to use necessary critical thinking skills. Thanks to Bloom’s Taxonomy, parents can help develop and strengthen their child’s thinking skills at home. Unfortunately, teachers and parents are more likely to ask children questions at the Remembering level which is the lowest level of thinking. This includes questions like: who, what, where, when and why. These types of questions
Bloom’s Taxonomy is named after Benjamin Bloom, a psychologist who in 1956 developed the classification of questioning according to six levels of higher level thinking. Bloom’s Taxonomy was revised in 2001. Most if not all teachers are taught to use Bloom’s Taxonomy in preparing lesson objectives for their students. However, most parents have not been taught how to use Bloom’s Taxonomy in talking to their children. If it is good for teachers, it is surely good for parents.
When children are moved beyond Bloom’s lowest level, Remembering to the next level of Understanding, they are answering questions which ask them to organize previous information, such as: comparing, interpreting the meaning, or organizing the information. Therefore, children are basically just retelling information in their own words, which is not helping develop critical thinking skills.
As parents, we want to encourage our children to think for themselves and to avoid peer pressure and fad thinking. We want them to have the skills necessary to listen, analyze and interpret the information that will be a constant part of their lives. Memory and understanding are part of this process, but to succeed in further processing this flow of knowledge requires higher level techniques.
Here are some examples of how to use Bloom’s Taxonomy with your child:
Most questions asked of children fall in either the Remembering or Understanding level. I encourage parents to move to a higher order in the taxonomy when questioning their child, which are Bloom’s next four levels. These include:
Applying: Ask your child how they would solve a given real-life problem. Ask why they think something is significant. Ask your child to continue a story or predict what would happen in a given situation. Encourage your child to make a diorama or model of what they learned on a given topic.
Analyzing: Ask your child to identify motives or causes from real-life stories. Encourage them to conduct an interview or survey. Have your child make a flow chart, family tree or role play a real-life situation.
Evaluating: Ask your child to form and defend an opinion on a subject. Kids, especially teens are pretty good at this one. Example: encourage your child to write a letter to an editor or evaluate a character’s actions in a story.
Creating: Ask your child to put together several bits of old information to form a new idea. Such as, ask them to create, design or invent a new item, proposal or plan. This requires a bit of creativity and the ability to think in the abstract.
Teachers state that with the big push of state testing and the pressure to teach to the test, it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to be able to take their time and teach at a higher level. As a parent you can help your child to use critical thinking skills and work on exercising their mind so that they will be a high level thinker.
There are many sites which offer charts of Bloom’s Taxonomy with examples of the various levels of questioning. One chart I like is: http://wed.siu.edu/faculty/JCalvin/bloomstax.pdf
I recommend parents print this or a similar chart and cut it so you are left with Analyzing on down to Creating. Then tape this chart to your refrigerator or desk to remind yourself of good questioning techniques to use with your child.
After asking several higher level Bloom’s Taxonomy questions, during various conversations, you will get a feel of your child’s ability to think critically. Be patient and give your child extra think time to respond because if your child is not used to higher level questioning or using their brain for this type of thinking, it may take some time for them to process and be able to respond. With practice, higher level questioning will become easier for you and your child.