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Dear Joe, Blooms taxonomy and mfl

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by brunettebarbie85, May 27, 2010.

  1. Hi
    according to Ofsted we need to be implementing Blooms Taxonomy into MFL to be outstanding teachers. Can you suggest ways in which to do this as i am completly lost, the language levels do not really correlate with the order of thinking
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
  2. Hi
    according to Ofsted we need to be implementing Blooms Taxonomy into MFL to be outstanding teachers. Can you suggest ways in which to do this as i am completly lost, the language levels do not really correlate with the order of thinking
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
  3. dalej

    dalej New commenter

    Hi brunettebarbie85,
    I suggest you have a look at Chris Harte's blog, particularly the excellent presentation he gave at The Language Show last year - Are you thinking?
    and his write up of a recent TeachMeet:
    Check out Isabelle Jones' presentation on thinking skills too:
    Hope that helps.
    Best wishes

  4. Oh, dear, another bee in Ofsted’s bonnet. It looks like some senior inspector has finally got round to reading about Bloom and now thinks Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956) is the greatest thing since sliced bread. EFL/ESOL teachers make more use of Bloom’s Taxonomy than MFL teachers. It might be fruitful to Google for “bloom taxonomy esol”. Bloom’s Taxonomy is essentially a hierarchy of levels that get more and more complex. The six levels are:
    1. Knowledge, Remembering
    2. Comprehension, Understanding
    3. Application, Applying
    4. Analysis, Analyzing
    5. Synthesis, Evaluating
    6. Evaluation, Creating
    Level 1 (Knowledge) involves checking that students remember facts that they have been taught, e.g. vocabulary, verb conjugations, points of grammar, etc – i.e. answering questions to which there is only one right answer. Here we are talking mainly about students’ abilities to recall information.
    Question answering is one of the ways to check for Comprehension (Level 2), e.g. relating to a text that the students have read or a recording that they have listened to. Open-ended questions are preferable to questions requiring a yes/no answer. Comprehension might also involve translation.
    Level 3 (Application) involves using a learned skill in a new situation. This might include role-playing activities, e.g. ordering a meal, asking and giving directions, etc.
    At Level 4 (Analysis) students might be called upon to explain some of the differences between the English language and the target language, e.g. the placement of adjectives in French and subordinate clause word order in German. This could also relate to showing understanding of the similarities between and differences in the cultures of the UK and the country(ies) in which the target language is spoken.
    At Level 5 (Synthesis) students might be asked to talk about or write an essay on a topic that calls upon their knowledge of specific areas of vocabulary, grammatical rules, and understanding of cultural differences between the UK and the country(ies) in which the target language is spoken.
    Level 6 (Evaluation) is mainly for advanced students. This might include discussing and writing about controversial issues in the countr(ies) where the target language is spoken,, e.g. the wearing of the hajib in France, the attitude of West Germans and East Germans to reunification, etc.
  5. While it can be 'made to work', my line is 'Well, if they can do level 3 by the time they get to GCSE I'll be happy, so let's not waste time talking about it in MFL'. We have to stop jumping on every bandwagon that Ofsted creates.
  6. Bloom's taxonomy was a favourite band wagon on which the SLT at my last school used to jump on a regular basis. When I mentioned to them that Bloom's taxonomy had been updated by Anderson and Krathwohl in 2001 they weren't interested at all (presumably because no-one had told them that they should be!)

    IMO Bloom's taxonomy is one of those things every manager knows about but hasn't bothered to read, digest or understand at all, a bit like Hawking's A Brief History of Time.

    You can read all about Bloom, Anderson and Krathwohl here: http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/bloomtax.htm (with diagrams!)

  7. You're 100% right, houserabbit. Only the the first three levels are relevant up to GCSE level - so why bother? Maybe Ofsted won't be around for much longer if everyone keeps making negative noises. With luck, Ofsted might go the same way as Becta and QCDA and this will put an end to the bullsh1t that they dish out.
  8. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    The reworked Tax - emphasis on verbs rather than nouns ie thinking is doing has 'creating 'at the top and 'evaluating' second from top but the Ped Pack on Questioning still has the ' old model ' in it .
  9. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I think that this reflects the emphasis on dialogue and good questioning techniques/ Blooms currently - making thinking visible . Have done a lot of work on this at LA level and cd send you some PPT which may help if you let me know a contact e mail .Have also produced some booklets which support the work of the TA if you are lucky enough to have one in the c/ room ! Suspect the days of 'quick fire / gimmicky 'recall questioning are in question so to speak (- used to be my party piece a few years ago - ) are over for the very reason that they don't extend or give take up time ( amongst others )
  10. Bear in mind that Bloom's Taxonomy is a generalised set of categories, and it was not designed specifically for MFL teaching. If you scour the Web for information about the application of Bloom's Taxonomy to language teaching and learning you find that most language teachers emphasise the first three categories. Mere recall of facts (Knowledge) is often looked down upon in most subject areas, e.g. knowing dates is helpful for a historian, but it's not as important as extrapolating information from a sequence of events and coming to conclusions about why certain events took place.
    We language teachers often get stuck at the Knowledge level - because a good linguist needs to have a head full of vocabulary, verb conjugations, noun declensions, etc. Without a mass of Knowledge and the facility for instant recall a linguist will not get very far. And no language teacher would dispute the importance of Comprehension and Application. But from this point on it gets a bit tricky, and very few students of foreign languages in secondary education will move further up the scale.
    The top three levels of Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation imply the prior acquisition of a set of skills that equip students with the ability to engage in discussion and write in the foreign language at a fairly sophisticated level, but at GCSE level most teachers are still struggling to get students to put together a sequence of grammatically accurate sentences that use a reasonable range of vocabulary.
    This website contains a simple explanation of Bloom’s Taxonomy:
    Personally, I feel Bloom’s Taxonomy has limited relevance to MFL teaching. The Presentation, Practice, Production model (which dates back to the 1970s) makes more sense. In my ICT4LT blog I started a thread headed “Practice: the missing link?” (February 2010):
    Feedback is welcomed.
    Graham Davies
  11. I suppose we will all be wearing de Bono's thinking hats next?
  12. jonnymarr

    jonnymarr Occasional commenter

    As in many other schools we work across all subjects to the model;
    1. know ( remembering, memorising, etc etc )
    2. understand ( conceptual grasp, the students 'get it' )
    3. be able to ( & whatever verb is appropriate, ie the rest of the taxonomy as appropriate )

    As an MFL teacher I agree that we rarely get beyond 'apply' in 3, and that the distinction at times between the three above, paticularly 2 & 3, can be blurred, but I do quite like the model overall.
    On a more general note, and not just in MFL,....I assume Ofsted see Bloom as a stick to beat us with regarding 'challenge', but day-in, day-out, we will only feel pressure to get the kids to analyse, synthesise and evaluate when external exams demand it of us. For the moment the teacher's notes and pre-learnable material, learnt parrot-fashion ( ie 'know' ) suffices in many subjects and many exams. Even 'understand' is superfluous! Perhaps we MFL teachers can hold our heads a little higher than most ( ? ) or am I kidding myself?
  13. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    I'm lucky in that my school hasn't started using that particular buzz word, so I don't know anything about it, but could "analyze" (step 4 if I understood the thread properly) apply at word level? In which case we all do a fair deal in lessons I'd imagine, e.g. "Can you tell me if that word ending in -tion is feminine or masculine" (for French), or "How do we know this is a noun" (for German) etc... Or is this too simplistic?
    I do wish ofsted would stop looking at education in a "one fits all" mould and recognize that different subjects require different level of skills.
  14. Hello! I think there is a little bit of confusion here about what Bloom's/Anderson's taxonomy is for. As Graham rightly points out, it is a generalised framework of higher order thinking skills. It is a way to look at the complexity of thinking a learner is using - however, it has nothing to do with linguistic outcomes and trying to artificially superimpose this taxonomy onto "what they need for GCSE French/Spanish/German etc" is wrong. This approach will lead to the disastrous situation where teachers think that learners can only function at the first three levels in a languages classroom because they do not have a sufficient level of language to write an evaluative essay on veil wearing. Put simply, we are teachers of languages but we should also be teachers of learning. I bet that every teacher here has talked to students about the best way to learn new vocabulary; lists, mind maps, word hooks, look cover spell check etc. By talking to the students about different ways to learn a language and giving them the chance to evaluate which works best for them, we are allowing learners to use higher order thinking skills. At the end of a series of lessons about the perfect tense in French, getting students to create a flow diagram to help others to form the tense correctly is an example of synthesising/creating. Analysing is about comparing constituent parts and deconstructing ideas/language - i.e. the best form of deductive grammar learning (rather than explicit grammar teaching). Evaluation is also about hypothesising - think about pre listening exercises before you attempt a gap fill - "what kind of word might fit in this space?" "a noun because there is a la before it"... Basically I think that we need to differentiate between learning language (memorising words and structures and using them - gets us up to "applying" on the taxonomy) and learning to be a better linguist (analysing constituent parts, hypothesising, bringing together different grammatical concepts to create a piece of writing or speaking which takes us right to the top!) We are doing a huge disservice to our children if we do not get them to think in language learning (something the exam boards do not do) as we are trying to create better language learners, not better exam passers! The entire Bloom/Anderson's taxonomy is applicable to language learning and we should be explicit with the learners talking to them about the different levels of thinking they are using.

    As for De Bono's hats - I have an entire Y9 scheme of learning in French based on them! We take the topic of the environment and each lesson is based around one of the hats - Lesson 1; white hat thinking - we learn to use facts and figures about the environment. Lesson 2; black hat thinking - what are the problems to do with the environment? Lesson 3; yellow hat thinking; what are the positive things you do now? Lesson 4; red hat thinking - what are your opinions and feelings about the environment? Lesson 5 green hat thinking; use the future tense to say what you are going to do to be more environmentally friendly. Assessment? A letter to the European Commission - on the writing frame we have a different coloured hats next to each few lines to encourage the students to write a paragraph about each hat, therefore giving different points of view. So where is the blue hat? When I mark the work and give them feedback I am wearing my blue hat to suggest what else they could do to improve their work.

    We should not be shying away from things that are accepted as being effective pedagogy and ways of thinking by saying that "you can't do that in languages". We can do anything in languages because, as we all know, linguists do it best.
  15. Charte, I couldn’t agree more! I don’t tell my students: create a presentation about Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla in which you include info+pictures. A waste of time really because they go on Google and basically copy and paste. I give them the information (in TL) in the form of clues/facts but don’t tell them if I’m referring to Madrid, Barcelona or Sevilla. They have to create the presentation matching the right clues/facts to the right city and add a quiz at the end for their peers. For this, students work in pairs or individually:
    Apply their knowledge of vocabulary to find out what the clues/facts are about. (levels 1/2/3 on Bloom’s)
    Research and analyse information about the city to see which clue applies. Actually,training the eye to read.(level 4)
    Create presentation and quiz in TL (level 5/6).
    Students in year 7 with limited knowledge of vocabulary and grammar structures can do this because they synthesise the information and apply their language skills (use cognates, make connections to their own language, etc) to keep it simple. The outcome might be a nice/ basic quiz but there is a lot of thinking behind it:
    No tiene playa.
    Es la capital de España.
    Es muy grande.
    Barcelona b) Sevilla c)Madrid
    Just my opinion, however.

  16. Noemie is right regarding the "one size fits all" mentality. I bet most Ofsted inspectors haven't a clue about language teaching pedagogy and methdology and haven't considered our subject-specific issues.
    Charte is right too. You can work your way through Bloom's first three levels using the target language most of the time. But the top three levels are difficult to apply (at secondary school level but not in higher education) unless you switch to English - and I don't have a problem with that. As a secondary school teacher I often used English with years 7-11 to explain points of grammar, to give my students hints and tips about learning vocab, and to chat about cultural issues. I talked about the similarities between German and English words such as Haus/house braun/brown and set them tasks in which they had to find more examples. The obsession with 100% target-language teaching has held us back, I feel.
    As Richard Hamilton pointed out recently in the MFL Resources forum, if students work in pairs on a computerised total Cloze exercise, practising a grammatical point (e.g. perfect tense of verbs conjugated with "être"), you can actually hear them explain the rule (in English) to each other. I have observed this happening many times.
    I used a lot more German in the classroom when talking to my A-level students. As a university professor, I used English in my critique of translation classes but German for most of the time when teaching the language.
    Talking about language is as important as acquiring the key skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking a foreign language. As an 11-year-old I was captivated by Fred Bodmer's The loom of language, which played a major role in determining my future career. It's a great book for raising awareness about languages and their relationships with one another.
    Graham Davies
  17. masghar

    masghar New commenter

    Interested in what you've said and would appreciate you emailing me the info. Thanks again for your article. Mo
  18. veverett

    veverett Occasional commenter

    Forget Blooms Taxonomy if it is just something someone in your management has just come across for the first time and is all excited about. They probably just want to see reference to it on your lesson plans. But DO worry about whether pupils are challenged to think/be independent in your lessons.
    The biggest problem in the UK is that teaching to the test is now considered excellent teaching. Sharing criteria with the pupils, making sure they know their level and what to do next. Getting them "the grade they deserve" at all costs because the grade they deserve has been predetermined. So even cheating is "ok" because all you are doing is getting them the grade they deserve. What they learn is irrelevant. What a teacher has to offer is irrelevant. Pupils' development and imagination and thinking is irrelevant. All that matters is the grade they get.
    The exams are marked in a way which means you teach 50% the subject and 50% the exam criteria. At AS in languages for example, if you just teach them the language, they will get a couple of grades lower than if you spend half the year teaching them the ins and outs of the exam criteria, how the essay is marked, what to expect on the paper, scripts you have got back, exemplar scripts, last year's exam report, the tips you got on the AQA course including the off the record ones, the boxes to tick in the oral exam...
    Then they find that UK pupils are doing better in exams but worse on international comparison tests.
    So yes please do encourage your pupils to think, apply learning, be creative, be independent. But if you do, you are being a rebel and risk being labeled unsatisfactory. Best to just refer to Bloom on your lesson plan. And then stick to teaching pupils to the test.

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