Saturday, April 16, 2011

HOTTS (Higher Order Thinking/Technology Skills) - Guest Post

We all probably remember studying Bloom’s Taxonomy in college and how it can be incorporated into our lesson plans. Benjamin Bloom created his taxonomy in the 1950s and we have been using his structure ever since to understand the learning process. In 2001, Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl revised the taxonomy and published Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.

Andrew Churches, an educator in New Zealand, has done a great deal of writing about incorporating technology into Bloom's Revised Technology. The blog Open Education explains, “Thanks to some great work by Andrew Churches, educators have a basis by which to compare digital techniques to the more traditional standard that Bloom created.”

For a much more in depth look at integrating technology into Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, visit Churches’ wiki Educational Origami. It is filled with resources for educators interested in Bloom’s Reivsed Taxonomy and 21st Century Learning.

Educational Origami

I think if we understand Churches’ update on Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy and how technology can be used to bring students to higher order thinking skills then we can provide many of our teachers with effective ways to incorporate technology into their instruction. Here are some of the ways we have been using free technology in our school to help students reach each level of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.

REMEMBERING: Recalling information or knowledge.
UNDERSTANDING: Constructing Meaning

One of the best tools we have put in our students’ hands to help them reach the remembering and understanding level is Diigo. With the Diigo educator account you can create student accounts for you entire class, without the need for email addresses for the registration. Social bookmarking is a valuable tool to help students in recalling the vast amounts of information that is available to them. Bookmarking websites and resources to Diigo will allow students to retrieve information both quickly and effectively.

Social bookmarking tools such as Diigo can fall under the remembering level and the understanding level. Teaching students to comment and tag their resources helps them to construct meaning of the resource and will bring them to an understanding level. They are no longer just saving a website, but they are summarizing and classifying the resource for later use. It is important for our students to be able to understand, summarize, and classify the massive amounts of information they have access to.

APPLYING: Carrying out, running, or executing procedures.

The third step in the taxonomy is Applying which Andrew Churches would say is the level where students implement, use information, and execute tasks. A big aspect of this would be “Doing.” The great thing about the applying taxonomy level is the amount of options that we have available for our students. All six taxonomy levels have been significantly affected by Web 2.0 applications, but it is in this level that they really start to investigate how each tool can be used.

Examples of tools that students can use include Prezi, Glogster, Powerpoint, Skype, Google Apps, iPhoto, iMovie, Flickr, etc. There are a numerous amount of applications available to us, too numerous to list here. (Just browse through Richard’s blog,, and you will find more tools than you could ever use in your classroom).

ANALYSING – Make connections, compare, organize, and present information that is collected.

Online applications such as Google Forms and Wordle provide our students with opportunities to analyze information instantly and in a uniquely visual way. Our 8th grade algebra class has used Google Forms to collect data related to homework performance and group project performances. Using the “Show summary of responses” feature provides an instant visual of the information that has been collected. In January, our junior high social studies compared President Obama’s State of the Union address to past presidents’ addresses by using Wordles of each president’s speech.

The final two steps of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy are very important because they give students an audience. It is an important part of developing the higher order thinking skills and providing the students with a more authentic learning experience.

EVALUATION - Making judgments, validate, reflect
CREATING - The student, remembers, understands & applies knowledge, analysis and evaluates outcomes, results, successes and failures as well as processes to produce a final product

The most common way that I see our teachers reaching the evaluating level with our students is through blogging and Voicethread. Our teachers use Edublogs with their classes and each student has their own blog. They have the ability to publish posts as well as receive feedback on their writing in the form of comments. Publishing their writing to their student blog provides an authentic audience for the students. Blog commenting allows other students from around the world to make judgments, validate, and reflect on other students' writing.

Voicethread has also been used for students to evaluate, all the way from @alhelmy's preschool students up to our junior high students in @gilmorekendra's music class. The examples are below from the preschool and junior high classes.

Finally, one of the best examples of the creating level that I have seen is students producing videos. Here is a video from @rlimback's full-day Kindergarten class using a flip camera, iMovie, and uploaded to youtube:

Examining the verbs and activities in Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy can help our classrooms become student-centered, 21st century learning environments. My encouragement is to not look at which level will be most effective for students, but to look at the entire taxonomy and decide how this will be beneficial to you as the teacher. How can this taxonomy assist you with your instruction?

Kevin Creutz is an assistant principal at Zion Lutheran School in St. Charles, MO. In July, 2011 he will begin his new role as principal of Central Lutheran School in New Haven, IN. You can follow Kevin on twitter, on his blog Apply Today, or on the Connected Principals blog.

QR Codes in the Classroom

If you haven’t noticed, there has been an influx of strange black-and-white codes showing up all over the place. Restaurants, stores, movie theaters, magazines, and even on the side of buildings! What are they? They are called QR Codes, with the QR standing for Quick Response. Basically, they are bar codes on steroids. You can download a simple free app on your smartphone to be able to scan the code, which will then take you to a website, file, phone number, or wherever else the author of the code wants you to see.

What does that mean for educators? I decided to try to come up with something that could play into students’ interest and novelty of using QR codes in learning. I created mystery picture worksheets that could be completed as an independent or center activity, where the only tools needed would include a mobile-device (such as an iTouch or a laptop with a webcam that is capable of capturing the picture of the code), the worksheet, crayons/colored pencils, and headphones (if using the audio component). An example of what I came up with:

QR Code Math Fun

To create my worksheet, I had several steps to cover. First, I decided on the Common Core Standard for which I would be covering – in this case, a third grade math standard. Next, I created a 5 x 6 grid table in a Microsoft Word document. From there, I needed to decide how I wanted my finished product to look with color. Keep in mind, that you do not want the codes to be so small that they cannot be easily scanned, so you are limited by how many squares you have in your grid. After knowing what my final product would look like, I set out to create questions and answers (correct and incorrect) to match the grid and the standard for which I was assessing. Next to the possible answer choices, I had to make sure the correct answer also had the correct color(s) mentioned, along with the incorrect color(s) for the incorrect choices.

My next two steps involved the technology: getting the codes to go somewhere and creating the codes to drop into the page. For my worksheet, I already had a website, so I created separate blog entries for each question. I also made it “invisible” so that you needed the code to find it, making it even more interesting to the students. I added one more layer to the questions: I created short podcasts of me reading the question and answers. I dropped this into the question blog entry so that auditory-driven students would benefit from this small addition. [As a side note – for some reason I can get the podcasts to work on a computer, but not on my mobile phone. Still trying to work out that kink.] Now that the “secret” pages have been published, I use the SnapMaze QR Code Generator to create my codes. They were copied, pasted, and resized to fit into the boxes on the Word document. Keep in mind that they are in color on the screen, but that when printed, they should be grayscale or black/white (kids will have to color on top of them). Step back and see your finished project - it is ready to be tested out by students!

While the actual product does take some time and effort, the result will be an activity you can use on a yearly basis. Students and parents can also complete the activities at home with their mobile device or computer (I also make sure to include the direct links to the question secret pages.) You can set students off to do their “work” and you can work with small groups or complete individual conferencing. When the children have completed the page, you will be able to check over very quickly whether the concept was mastered or whether it needs additional intervention just by looking at the completed “mystery picture.”

Now you are ready to rock and roll! Or is it scan and learn? How do you use QR Codes in you classroom?

Thanks so much to Mr. Byrne for allowing me the opportunity to guest blog! I love all the great ideas he consistently provides teachers such as myself! Free is even better!

Charity L. Preston is an author, teacher, and parent. Most importantly, she is an educator in all roles. The ability to teach someone something new is a gift that few truly appreciate. Visit her now at The Organized Classroom Blog, her facebook fan page, or follow her on Twitter. See you there!

Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine. I hope the weekend brings everyone the rest and relaxation they deserve. If you're on spring vacation next week as the schools in Maine are, I hope you have a great week off. As I do every week I've assembled a list of the most popular posts of the week.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Brainstorming - Google Across the Curriculum
2. An Education Video Playlist - Suggestions Wanted
3. Google Apps K-12 Lesson Plan Selector
4. Lenovo M90z ThinkCentre Giveaway April 14-18
5. YouTube Launches Copyright School
6. 3D American Civil War on Google Earth
7. Sugar Sync - File Sync and Backup for All Your Devices

How to Subscribe to Free Technology for Teachers
If you aren't subscribed to you can do so via these links.
Subscribe via RSS. Subscribe via Email. Become a Facebook Fan.

Get Free Technology for Teachers on Kindle

Please visit the official advertisers and marketing partners that help keep this blog going.
Edublogs provides blog hosting for teachers and students. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
SimpleK12 is my blog marketing partner.