Yesterday was an In-Service day. Although it is not my favorite way to spend a day, I did find value in what my department created. We were re-introduced to the revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Random side note: I love the change of categories to verbs. That simple change makes it more about the students and also made them easier for our students to understand (Create is definitely more on their level than Synthesis). The article not only introduced the updated Bloom’s, but also pulled out the different types of thinking that can occur: factual, conceptual, procedural, and meta-cognition.
We were supposed to evaluate a lesson and increase the amount of higher order thinking. Our department deviated slightly from course, but achieved the desired result as an end goal. We did not adapt a specific lesson, but broke down a TPRS lesson (the entirety of the story process, not a single day snapshot). All the middle school foreign language teachers use stories, so it was a chance for us to collaborate and produce a reference resource. The charts we created will clearly explain and visually demonstrate to non-language teachers that everyday tasks can be higher level if they are completed in a second language.
I am sharing the document for TPRS Lesson Ideas with Higher Order Thinking. This is a work in progress. There will always be something that can be re-arranged. There will always be more great ideas. The document is what we have so far that shows TPRS in the framework of both Bloom’s and the Knowledge Dimension. There is an example of the Analyze portion of the chart – click on the image or the link for the full version of the Google Doc.
#1 In all the articles we read focusing on the new Bloom’s, the term meta-cognition was popular (right up there with critical thinking/problem solving). Foreign language is a natural outlet for thinking about thinking, especially at the earlier levels before language is internalized and automatic. The students use meta-cognition to negotiate dialogues. They often want to say so much, but have to figure out how to say it based on their vocabulary and prior knowledge. Circumlocution is a form of meta-cognition. Self-correcting when speaking or writing is also meta-cognition. They are actively reflecting on what they think and said, and re-working it until it sounds correct.
#2 Most of what the students do in class is higher order. Rote memorization will always be lower level, but actively using the target language pushes the activity to higher order thinking. Answering basic questions that are asked and responded to in the target language are not basic at all, depending on the question it would be applying or analyzing. Just image the higher order of students analyzing components of the story while using the target language – it is like (analyze)² . My 6th graders do this on a regular basis when we have stories and most of them don’t act like I am asking the impossible. So, if we are staying in the lower levels, are we short changing the potential of the students? Tests are just a limited snapshot. We should give them more chances to show off how much they really know. I am going to bring back the 5 minute timed writing to allow students to create their own stories and show off what they can do. The formative assessment portion will encourage risk taking without risking a grade.
Overall, not a bad use of an in-service day. I’m glad we had the chance to work together.