Taxonomy Blooms Anew

Posted by Lisa Marie Gonzales on February 26, 2010

“Technology is fluff; real learning takes place away from the computer.”

That perception persists in some quarters.  As our curriculum and instruction team at the Santa Clara County Office of Education has been working on professional development training, we’ve been talking about ways to intertwine technology and higher level learning.  I have to admit, some of the latest and greatest in technology has left us questioning just how much rigor is involved.

Image created by Mike Fisher; used by permission.
Image created by Mike Fisher; used by permission.

That got me to thinking about good old Bloom’s Taxonomy and how it might help us ensure rigor and relevance in our work in classrooms with students and by teachers.  Pursuing those thoughts led me to the discovery of this picture—a visual representation of Bloom’s Taxonomy created by Mike Fisher that collects and categorizes the various internet resources that have become second nature to many of us in the world of Web2.0.

In our department, we utilize Bloom’s Taxonomy to focus our professional development workshop outcomes and to direct the activities that teachers work on with their students. The further up the taxonomy, the stronger the learning that should be taking place.  We focus on analysis and evaluation, particularly around performance tasks, test questions, and even discussion points with classroom activities.

What is important about this diagram is the identification of internet tools that can drive both teacher and student users into higher order thinking. The categorization gives us a strong framework to plan instruction that takes advantage of new tools such as blogs, wikis, and VoiceThread that allow students to take their discussions and interactions to higher levels.

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To Share or Not to Share
Using Social Networking for Work

Posted by Kay Tepera on November 16, 2009

Image by Scott Maxwell
Image by Scott Maxwell.

Do you remember your first day in the classroom?  I remembered mine as I read a recent article about a new teacher, just out of college, who was struggling with the huge task of understanding her new job.  Her experience sounded so familiar.  Walk into the school.  Get handed a key to the classroom.  Find your mailbox.  Get a stack of textbooks.   Yikes! What next?

That was the dilemma of the teacher in the article: what next? After feeling totally overwhelmed, this teacher turned to the Internet and used a social networking tool to seek help.  She posted the simple question, “I’m new, what do I do now?”  In a matter of hours she received sixty responses to this plea for help.  She even had experts come to her aid.

Talk about curriculum building!  Teachers today seem more willing to assist and collaborate with their peers than ever before.  Social networking sites seem to offer a non-threatening forum where teachers can share and exchange their ideas.

As I remember that exciting yet scary feeling as I walked into my classroom for the first time, I wonder why, if social networking tools are so easily accessible to us, we aren’t sharing more? Why do so many teachers still struggle alone with more and more paperwork? More and more papers to grade? More and more expectations?  Couldn’t social networking sites provide the avenue for educators to share how they have solved problems? Organized the mountain of assignments to grade?  Managed high expectations?  Dealt with thorny questions on curriculum?

So I now ask you:  “To share or not to share?”  What’s your experience with social networking to assist you with your work?

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A Virus Can Be a Good Thing

Posted by Rick Fitzpatrick on January 23, 2009

I used to refer to myself as a recovering technologist.  Let me explain.

I have had the rare and interesting privilege of being on both sides of the educational technology discussion.  First, for five years I was Ed Tech Guy for my local county office of education.  I attended all the regional and state meetings and saw the data and the solutions and became convinced.  I was full of facts and righteousness.  I saw clearly what needed to be done with technology.  The sites just needed to get on board and all would be well and productive.

Yet they didn’t.  I wrung my hands in frustration at the huge disconnect between what was available and what was being used in classrooms.  What was going on?  Why was technology—good technology—being ignored in classrooms all over the state?  I had been a teacher and knew for a fact that I would have been banging down the door to get these amazing tools.

Then I became a site administrator.
I had no time.
I still don’t.

That is a slight exaggeration, I confess, but it is true that dealing with data and state testing and budget and personnel and the myriad large and small fires that are an administrator’s lot in life can be all-consuming.

I had almost no time to deal with technology.  It didn’t get investigated. It didn’t get used.  Tech tools sat collecting dust in classrooms and the library.  Too-busy teachers didn’t use them.  Students didn’t even know what was available.

Then I discovered a good virus.

Every staff has one or two teachers who will go to the moon with technology if given half a chance. They have the passion, and find the time to investigate, plan, and develop strategies to be hugely successful with educating students using technology.

So I started feeding the virus.  I’d see that these one or two teachers got the money to do what they needed to do and had carte blanche to do it.  And they did, and with amazing results.

At this point, I suppose I could have mandated that all staff would follow suit, but I knew what would happen.  Mandate or no, the technology would simply gather more dust.

Instead,  I bided my time.  Soon,  two or three teachers came to me who had seen what my early adopters had done, wanted to do it in their rooms, and had plans for how to do it.  We funded them as well.

Before long, at least 80% of staff were on board with the new technology.  In fact, they clamored for it—with their own righteous indignation.

The experience did my inner geek proud.  Now,  the district is moving toward a “smart classroom” model for the entire district based on the seeds planted by these hungry teachers.

It’s a good virus.  Catch it!

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