Bloom’s Taxonomy: A simple roadmap to learning

Written by contributor Jena Borah of Yarns of the Heart

I’m a big picture kind of person. I like to look at the map and stay focused on the destination. But homeschooling is full of little details that threaten to pull us off the path and down rabbit trails.

That’s why, here at the beginning of the school year, I like to remind myself of how simple education really is.

In the 1950s, a committee of educators came up with a list of broad learning objectives called Bloom’s Taxonomy, and it’s been revised over the years. The first step in learning is simply remembering facts, and as a student progresses through the levels, he or she takes the learned material and creates something new. I love that.

The ultimate goal of learning is the ability to create something new.

My favorite visual representation of Bloom’s Taxonomy is this butterfly. As the wings grow, the butterfly becomes more beautiful and able to fly.

I made a large version by selecting “poster” in my print options and it came out in eight pages, but I think  a one-page copy would look great on the refrigerator! I put my eight pages together by spraying adhesive to the backs and putting them on a piece of plain wrapping paper. Then I laminated it.

Download The Blooming Buttery as a PDF.

The point of all this is to remember that simply memorizing information is the lowest level of learning. Be sure to continually jump to the next level with questions and discussions that engage in higher order thinking like analyzing and evaluating.

Image by Learning Today

Download the Blooming Orange as a PDF.

The orange illustration helps to define the levels. Put in on the fridge next to the butterfly to remind yourself of things to do that stretch your child’s thinking.

The orange might also give your student some ideas for projects. Hey, here’s an idea: Print it in a smaller size, laminate it, and make it a bookmark!

What have you done to move beyond just remembering the facts?

About Jena

Jena homeschooled her three children all the way to college. When they left the nest, she started a masters degree in elementary education and taught one year in the public schools. She blogs about her homeschooling years and her interest-led philosophy at Yarns of the Heart.

Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    I really like these! Thanks for the post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. CC Jen says:

    Thank you thank you thank you!!! I look forward to printing my butterfly and hanging it in the schoolroom :)
    CC Jen’s latest post: Getting Ready

  3. Oh, yes! I have to continually remind myself that they need to learn on more multiple levels. That is so, so important. This is also why intelligence testing at young ages is a waste of time. Too often the kids the are good at the remembering are labeled intelligent very young simply because they can spit back out information. However, a truly whole-child education will seek to see understanding on all levels.

    Than you for the pdf’s! Going to print those out!
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau’s latest post: Offering Help That Is Actually Helpful

  4. Shannon says:

    The blog post is well written and the blooming butterfly and orange posters are amazing. Thank you!

  5. Heidi says:

    I’m a fan of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and I like the graphics! One thing my husband (a history teacher) and I have talked a fair amount about, though, is that we’ve seen and experienced a lot of teachers trying to leap for the highest levels of the Taxonomy without the students having an adequate foundation in the lower levels. He sees this in history a lot – the temptation to have students “give an analysis” of the causes of a broad historical event (the Reformation, for instance, or the fall of the Roman Empire) when what is actually happening is just *remembering* a teacher’s presentation. The students themselves aren’t in a place to analyze because they never had exposure to enough just-plain-historical-facts about the time period. Names, dates, geography. The thing I love about Bloom’s Taxonomy is that it builds upward and the upper levels reveal the student’s successful integration of the lower levels. A reminder to myself more than anything to not skip the bottom in the rush to get to the top!

    • Jena says:

      Great point, Heidi. You have to know something about the topic in order to evaluate and analyze! My 23-year-old son (Mr. Philosophy) just had to delve into why he thought the levels were out of order or had problems. Hey! It’s just a guide, and it gets us thinking. Nobody’s understanding is perfect. I happen to like this taxonomy and think is really helpful. I also like debating that analytical son of mine. :)
      Jena’s latest post: A Practical Guide to Loving Homeschooling

    • Christie says:

      I agree … I also looked at the butterfly wings and thought of stages and ages of learning.

      Susan Wise Bauer has a really neat audio presentation about teaching history and great books (available on her website); she describes the process of the student first verbally narrating (on this butterfly … remembering and understanding), then writing the narration (still just remembering and understanding), and finally around middle school writing a summary narration that also includes *one* bit of analyzing, such as answering “why did the character do what he did?” She said, “one new thing at a time.” Then, that process grows into several analysis questions. Finally, that makes a paper!

      I highly recommend any of her audio downloads. So encouraging!!!!
      Christie’s latest post: Brownies

  6. Tanya Hulbert says:

    Printing them out now. Thanks for these wonderful visuals!

  7. Karen says:

    I notice it going the complete opposite direction! Remembering (that you actually remember) only happening at the end, after beginning with creation and progressing through the stages the other way!
    Karen’s latest post: {this moment} herding bamboo

    • Jena says:

      That is a great point Karen! True learning can be defined as remembering forever, remembering in such a way that you are able to create something new out of what you remember. I guess you could say that remembering flows through each level, gathering deeper dimensions as it goes. Very cool observation.
      Jena’s latest post: A Practical Guide to Loving Homeschooling

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