Bloom's taxonomy and English language learners

Bloom's taxonomy and English language learners

by Judie Haynes

Your English language learners should be developing thinking skills as they acquire English. Dust off your copy of Bloom's Taxonomy and ask questions from all levels. There are activities that ELLs can do on every level.

Thinking Skills and English language learners

English language learners should be asked critical thinking questions from all levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. Some of the tasks on the taxonomy are difficult for ELLs because they lack the language and vocabulary to work in English. However, teachers need to ask questions from all levels of the taxonomy that are age appropriate and at the English language level of the English language learners. Even very young children can work at the Synthesis and Evaluation levels.

Examples at each level below come from Pa Lia's First Day by Michelle Edwards. This book is written at a late second or early third grade level.

Level 1: Knowledge. This level of questioning is what is most frequently used when teaching ELLs, especially for students in pre-production and beginning production levels of English language acquisition. Responses to some of the questions can be made using yes/no or embedded questions. Pictures, drawings, and realia will help students give the correct answer. Responses to these questions are generally right in the text. Here are some questions and directions you might ask:

Level II: Comprehension. This level shows that the student has understood the facts and can interpret them. ESL/bilingual teachers use this level of questioning a lot. We ask students to compare, contrast, illustrate, and classify. We do this oral questions and graphic organizers such as Venn Diagrams and T-charts.

Level III: Application. Students are learning to solve problems by using previously learned facts in a different way. ELLs might need scaffolding and word banks to build, choose, construct, develop, organize, plan, select, solve, and identify.

Level 4: Analysis. At this level students may not have enough vocabulary and language to express responses in English. The tasks at this level that English language learners will be able to complete with some teacher scaffolding are: classify, contrast, compare, categorize, sequence.

Level 5: Synthesis. At this level students are compiling information together in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative solutions. ELLs will need teacher support and scaffolding to answer questions at level 5. Synthesis is particularly difficult for ELLs. Students may be able to choose, combine, create, design, develop, imagine, make up, predict, solve, and change.

  • Pa Lia is a new student at school and she has no friends. How would you solve Pa Lia's problem?
  • How would you change in this story?
  • What happens if you do not tell the truth?
  • Can you invent another character for the story?
  • How would you change the story to create a different ending?
  • How could you change the story? How else could Pa Lia make friends? Plan a party for Mrs. Hennessey's class.
  • Level VI: Evaluation. Questions at this level of Bloom's taxonomy can be modified so that the langue is simplified but the task remains the same. English language learners can learn to give opinions, make judgments about the action in a story and evaluate the work of an author.

    The vocabulary usually associated with evaluation may need to be simplified. Here are some questions ELLs would be able to answer with some scaffolding by the teacher.

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