How to Use Bloom's Taxonomy in a Social Studies Lesson

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Bloom's taxonomy is a teaching theory that uses six increasingly complex steps - Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation - to improve students' learning. The steps range from rote memorization of facts to applying facts to solve problems and arguing opinions based on information from the lesson. In Social Studies classes, memorizing dates and facts is an important foundation for every lesson. However, students should also understand the material to the point that they can defend their own ideas and opinions on both world issues and historical events. Bloom's taxonomy walks students and teachers through this learning process.

  • Apply Bloom's Knowledge step by having your students memorize important names, dates and facts in your lesson, in a rote-memory style. For example, if you're teaching a lesson on the Battle of Hastings, have your students memorize the date of the battle (October 14, 1066), the two armies involved (the Normans and the English) and the leaders of each army (William II and King Harold II).

  • Employ Bloom's Comprehension step by asking your students to summarize events that happened around a specific date or event, in a simple question-and-answer forum. Call on a student or have the students raise their hands and have them explain the event in their own words. For example, ask students to summarize the time leading up to the Battle of Hastings or explain the weapons and military tactics used during the battle.

  • Use Bloom's Application step by letting your students classify facts surrounding your lesson into separate categories. Have them use their knowledge in a novel situation. Give them a list of clues and have them classify each one as a "Norman fact" or an "English fact." Offer the sample English fact that "their army used the shield wall defense" and Norman fact that "they were known for their powerful cavalry."

  • Utilize the Analysis step in Bloom's Taxonomy by having students construct a timeline or cause-and-effect chart that connects each event or fact to another. Let them break down the information they've learned and make connections between events. For example, have them make a timeline of before, during and after the Battle of Hastings, in which each significant event leads to another event.

  • Exercise Bloom's Synthesis step by having your students create a reproduction of the historical event in a diorama, map or a short group video. Tell them to create, model, or design something original based on the information they've learned. For example, have them act out the Battle or create their own versions of the strategic maps that each army might have used.

  • Demonstrate Bloom's Evaluation step by assigning your students an argumentative essay about the outcome of an historical event - the winning of a war, the passing of a law or the end of a political regime. Have them prove they can argue, judge, criticize, persuade and assess the information they've learned. For example, have students argue the merits of the Norman army over the English Army, describe how the outcome of the battle could have changed if one army had a particular advantage or disadvantage, or criticize particular battle strategies.

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