October 18, 2014
I am working on revising an established face to face course, our introductory course for the Early Childhood Education Degree. After reviewing Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy I was able to more critically understand the differences between factual, conceptual, procedural and metacognition knowledge. Figure 1 The Cognitive Process Dimension better clarifies how each type of knowledge is represented in the action dimension of cognition. I applied this information in terms of defining how the cognitive process aligned with the learning objectives for the course. I was taught that for a 100 level course we strive to help students remember and understand with application. While, 300-400 level courses are interested in analyze, evaluate and create. That was how I was taught but not what I believed. I just could not see how using brute force to remember and understand a concept was a good idea since we know that is not the best way for children to learn. We are preparing teachers, why would we want them to learn a teaching strategy they should not apply to their teaching in the classroom? I didn’t. For more than a few years, I have used a mix of processes for teaching knowledge.
Rose’s version of Bloom’s Taxonomy- Learning in Action provides very specific strategies for each area. The strategies listed have several of Gardner’s multiple intelligence styles of learning embedded. This appealed to me because the concept of multiple intelligences are a focus within the introductory course I am developing for this assignment. This idea reminds me that perhaps, I should add another layer to my concept map. It may help me to more easily see the learning styles that are minimal or lacking. I have been paying more attention to a schema that will help me to organize all this information so that I am included as diverse range of activities and assignment as possible. However, I also want to ensure each activities and assignment is meaningful and in line with backwards design principles.
McTighe’s white paper was not new to me but it was written in such a way that makes it easy to understand and apply the concepts. I feel like I need some practice. As the article suggest, this type of design is not usual to many and takes a bit of getting used to when developing courses. McTighe references Covey’s principle of starting with the end in mind. A principle I am well familiar and practiced. As a former administrator of several early childhood programs, I held tightly to this principle with good results. Intuitively I used this principle of backward design, however, not with the full scope of the entire course learning objectives. As well, I have not measured my effectiveness against well designed learning objectives. As a degree program, the faculty are doing so as we move through this course, so this information is timely and interesting to the group.
McTighe encourages the use of essential questions to determine useful objectives. This idea was not new to me but I have become convinced the practice is essential to get at what is most important. He states that we cannot possibly help students learn and apply all that they could know about the course subject. I appreciate that perspective. I come to terms with this problem each planning session prior to each semester when deciding what is the most important information students should know now considering cultural, research and pedagogical changes since the last time of teaching the course. The work it takes to get at the most essential questions will take time initially, but can leave us with the certainty that for at least this semester we are offering the best for our students.
My essential questions are somewhat determined for me because our degree program follows the National Association for the Education (NAEYC) Standards for Early Childhood Education degree programs. So, what our association has determined as the most important areas to focus in teacher preparation. It will be interesting to align these standards with my sense of what students should know and be able to do in terms of backward design. For me, it is not clear if the standards are the end in mind and then the course is developed or rather, do we have the end in mind and determine which standard fits? There is much to consider and sort through. I have a feeling that I will need a few more semesters to allow all this information to sink in and feel that I understand and can apply effectively.
I used Mindmeister to make my concept map. I began with the course title and current NAEYC standard. I then used two of the indicators under this standard. I created a third based on the “end in mind.’ I included for each the supportive skills assigned to this standard, again an NAEYC mandate. I then included how Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy and Significant Learning Experiences align with the indicator (also the learning objective.) I then added a placeholder for teaching and learning activities and feedback and assessment. Which I separated since for our program, are used very differently. We spend a lot of time ensuring our feedback is intentional and meaningful toward student understanding and learning.
Bloom’s Taxonomy-Learning In Action. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/24/Blooms_rose.svg
Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating Significant Learning Experiences An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Krathwohl, D. (2002). A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview. Theory into Practice, 212.
McTighe, J. (n.d.). Understanding by Design. Retrieved from https://www.mheonline.com/secondaryscience/pdf/ubd.pdf