Get Your VERB On!

Get Your VERB On!

By Dr. Richard Kralevich
Associate Vice President for Information and Instructional Technology
Delaware Technical Community College

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom and a few of his colleagues had a thought.  Their idea – develop a framework that educators and student alike could leverage to better organize and understand the learning objectives associated with their shared educational experience.  Since that faithful day, educators like you and me have devoted countless hours discussing, debating, and deliberating over how to find the right verb for the job.

Recently, I came across a few visual representations of Bloom’s Taxonomy that might help to make that deliberation a little easier. Hopefully, these resources will come in handy the next time you’re struggling to pen that perfect instructional objective.

So get out there and get your verb on!

A 3 Dimensional Model Of Bloom’s Taxonomy
Source: teachthought

Take Action: Verbs That Define Bloom’s Taxonomy
Source: MindShift | KQED News

Bloom’s Taxonomy Overview
Source: Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching

The 4 Step Lesson Plan

The 4 Step Lesson Plan

By Ish Stabosz
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
Stanton Campus

Were you thrown a new course a week before it starts? A day before?

Or maybe you have been working as a microbiologist in the field for decades and decided it was time for a career change. You know every thing that there is about the subject matter, but you’ve never received any formal training in how to teach.

Or maybe you’ve been teaching the same prep for years and have gotten to the point that your lecture notes have yellowed to the point that they are illegible, and you’ve decided it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

In this post, I want to share a simplified framework for planning your lessons that should help you in any of the above situations and more. The goal of the 4 step lesson plan is to ensure that our lessons are doing more than just covering content – that they are helping students to meet the course objectives in measurable ways. Continue reading

Backward Design: Articulating the Results

canstockphoto17677468

By Alison Randall
English Department
Delaware Technical Community College
George Campus

It is odd that sometimes you can spend ages planning a lesson and it is dull. You are bored. Students are not engaged. How could all of the work backfire?

Other times, a simple exercise gets everyone in class talking. Students are asking questions, arguing with their peers, going online to prove their points, answering your questions, changing their opinions etc.

What happened? Sometimes it is beyond your control. Sometimes the students in the class are just hard to motivate, while another class with the same lesson is lively. As a teacher we learn to adapt to those unforeseen circumstances. But other times, we know we might need to adapt our lesson plans.

I recently shared an article with the Instructional Innovation Committee Research Group which I think has given more focus to my classes and my instruction. The article is actually Chapter 1 “What is backward design?” from Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. Although it is from 2005, it can help teachers rethink their work.

Rather than using the old: What will I teach today? What is the final assignment? How will I assess it? the new model asks instructors to think very clearly about results, then assessment, then instruction.

Delaware Tech has CCPOs and MPOs, and they certainly help us clarify our goals, but identifying desired results asks instructors to apply filters (I prefer the word criteria, and our research group had a good discussion about the differences in these terms).

The filters or criteria help the instructor determine what is worth understanding. As the instructor thinks about this, the process moves from general content standards to a specific desired result you want from that class. Maybe that is why Wiggins and McTighe call them filters: you filter your results until you get to a distilled goal.

For example, you might go from: Students will think critically, students will learn about context, students will address the issue of artistic freedom through a cultural lens to…What do I really want them to get from this class? Students will use their understanding of context and apply it to a specific problem to show how contextual awareness can impact one’s interpretation of a situation.

With my focus so specific, my activities become more focused, and so does my assessment. How will I know they have understood these concepts? Will I provide a sheet which prompts responses? Will I ask students to discuss the issue and present their findings to the class?

Finally, I plan my learning experience. This is hard because even as I am planning my goals and assessment, how I am going to teach it is always at the back of my mind. Clearly, I am not completely immersed in backward thinking yet; however, working backward has informed my instructional plan.

For example, now that I know the specific skills I want from this lesson, I can think about ways they can demonstrate this. They will need to know what contextualization is? They will need to know some key critical thinking skills. They will need to know what Freedom of Speech really means. They will need to know if private schools are subject to the same rules as public schools. They will need to see how other educational institutions have dealt with offensive art.

So…

I am going to need to design a class that addresses an issue, has some time built in for students to respond immediately, and then some time for them to do research. I can divide them into groups with each group researching a different prompt and reporting the results to the class, then revisit the solution and see if the research offers a more meditated position on it. This will necessitate a class discussion about how the political and cultural context has reshaped their position. Class participation will be assessed, and so will understanding of the cultural context.

I know I need to focus on desired results and put the instructional design on the back burner, but I am finding the refinement of outcomes, goals, and results is producing more focused classes where students are engaged in understanding specific meaningful topics rather than a generic rush to complete the course assignment.

A New Learning Outcome: Grit

By Ish Stabosz
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
Stanton Campus

We are very used to measuring our students’ ability to analyze this, evaluate that, or use a plethora of other Bloom’s Taxonomy verbs in order to demonstrate their learning. In the following TED Talk, management-consultant-turned-Math-teacher-turned-psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth suggests that we start measuring a new skill: grit, which she defines as “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals”.

In this brief presentation, Angela sums up her research, which finds that the best predictor of success among students, military cadets, spelling bee contestants, new teachers, and salespeople is grit.

How do you teach your students to develop their grit? What would it be like if grit-related objectives actually appeared on the syllabus?