Guiding your child's development in a fragmented learning environment


How do I help my children?

You may not be familiar with the term “Bloom’s Taxonomy”; however, I am confident you will be glad you took the time to learn about it. The taxonomy provides a structured approach to aiding in the development and measurement of your child’s learning, including the elevation of their critical thinking skills. Today’s learning environment can feel fragmented, convoluted and disjointed. The onset of COVID-19 has made the learning landscape even more complicated. You may be finding it difficult to gauge your child’s current stage of development; therefore impeding your ability to effectively support your child. You need a clear signal in the midst of the noise. This blog post can act as a guide in using the taxonomy to help understand and steer your child’s learning path.


Bloom's Taxonomy is not new. It was first developed in 1956 by Max Englehart, Edward Furst, Walter Hill, and David Krathwoh (Vanderbilt University). However, it has been modernized and is still seen by experts as being effective in guiding how students encounter and work with knowledge. It has become even more relevant as we transition into the new economy. As we transition from the Knowledge economy to the Innovation economy, sound critical thinking is becoming a base skill for most positions (The driving forces that will share the Innovation Economy). The taxonomy can be used by educators and parents to ensure the skills necessary to meet the cognitive demands of the 21st-century are being developed and measured.


Fully developed critical thinking skills is about implementing knowledge to solve problems or to create. This is not something learned overnight. It needs to be taught, developed and measured successively and iteratively, almost like building blocks. When introduced to a new subject area, your child can’t create until they have a base knowledge; nor can they solve a problem until they can perform an analysis. The ultimate goal of one’s development is the ability to turn knowledge into something tangible.


At Kids Hack Labs, we use the Bloom’s Taxonomy to inform our curriculum building and to aid in measuring our students' progress. We also use “scaffolding” to support students during the early stages of learning a new concept. We remove the scaffolding or support as the student moves through the taxonomy. You can use this same taxonomy to measure your child's progress in almost all areas of learning (ie. math, writing, science, etc). As you read about the taxonomy categories, it's important to understand that your child's progression will not necessarily be linear.


The categories of the taxonomy include:


Image sourced from Vanderbilt University.












Alignment of Kids Hack Labs programs.








* Engaging question and example exercises sourced from: Thoughtco.com


Remember - memorize and recall

Students are expected to recall information such as dates, facts and events. It covers the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, which).


Engaging your child:

  • What do you remember about _____?

  • How would you define_____?

  • How would you identify _____?

  • How would you recognize _____?

Example exercise: Label the parts of a human cell.


Computer coding example:

  • What is the function to code a circle?

  • When is a draw function used?


Understand - comprehension and meaning

Students are expected to demonstrate comprehension of the knowledge or facts that they recall. It's the early indicator of a student's progress to turning knowledge into something tangible. A student needs to communicate the meaning behind the 5 Ws via oral, written or graphical communications.


Engaging your child:

  • How would you generalize_____?

  • How would you express _____?

  • What can you infer from _____?

  • What did you observe_____?

Example exercise: Interpret the information found in this pie chart.


Computer coding example:

  • What happens to the square when you increase the value of the Y coordinate?

  • How many circles will automatically be drawn with a For Loop when the counter is 0, the conditional variable is set to less than 1000 and the step is incremented by 1?


Apply - solve and demonstrate

Students are expected to use, implement or demonstrate what they have been able to recall and explain. Applying is action based - solving, modeling, constructing, experimenting, etc.


Engaging your child:

  • How would you demonstrate ____?

  • How would you present ____?

  • How would you change ____?

  • How would you modify ____?

Example exercise: Use Newton's Laws of Motion to explain how a model rocket works.


Computer coding example:

  • Code a sun in the top left corner of the screen

  • Code a circle and have it follow your mouse


Analyze - differentiate and examine

Students are expected to be able to break down a concept or problem into multiple parts and understand how each part relates to the other. Students need to draw conclusions, make connections, compare and contrast.


Engaging your child:

  • How can you sort the parts _____?

  • What can you infer_____?

  • What ideas validate _____?

  • How would you explain _____?

Example exercise: Examine the results of your experiment and record your conclusions.


Computer coding example:

  • How is the For Loop enabling the code to repeat?

  • What conditions has the If Statement created within the code?

  • What is the error in this code?


Evaluate - defend and appraise

Students are expected to make conclusions, judgements and decisions based on criteria and evidence. The student is closing in on being able to turn knowledge into something tangible - they are performing the required reasoning based on the logic acquired working through the previous categories.


Engaging your child:

  • What criteria would you use to assess _____?

  • What data were used to evaluate _____?

  • How could you verify _____?

  • What information would you use to prioritize _____?

Example exercise: Find the errors in the following math problem.


Computer coding example:

  • Why did you choose to code your project using the selected functions and commands?

  • Why did you choose to use a draw function as opposed to a For Loop to code movement?


Create - design and construct

The student is expected to produce something through planning and recognizing the patterns that need to be managed to put information together in a new or unique way. Create is the final step in using knowledge to develop, design, work or assemble.


Engaging your child:

  • What alternative would you suggest for ___?

  • What changes would you make to revise___?

  • How would you generate a plan to ___?

  • What could you invent___?

Example exercise: Develop an idea for a science fair project that focuses on the effects of pollution on plant life.


Computer coding example:

  • Plan, design and code a personal project (student is not provided with coding instructions).

  • Document the end state of the project, analyze and evaluate the best way to code the project and use your knowledge of coding syntax to create a functional project/application.


This is how I help my kids!

Conclusion

Though presented as a hierarchy, Bloom’s Taxonomy is not meant to be a linear or sequential progression. Your child will enter different categories, revisit categories and navigate the taxonomy in its entirety several times during their learning. Each time they learn a new concept, they will begin the learning journey starting in the lower levels of the hierarchy. Kids Hack Labs supports your child in navigating the taxonomy as they learn computer coding through coach interaction, instructional scaffolding and staged projects within the coding suite.


Using Bloom's Taxonomy to structure their support & intervention, parents can play an effective role in their kids development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Comprehension of these skills will benefit your child in school and in relationships, as well as help them excel in their careers.


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