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Presentation on Lesson Observation – for the Algerian Inspectorate

Appendix 4c - Using Bloom's Taxonomy in Classroom Observation
(National College web-site) Bloom's Taxonomy is a useful guide for observers and observees when arranging a lesson observation around a particular theme, such as teacher questioning or the level of challenge inherent in a task. For instance, teacher questioning in particular can have a powerful effect on a child's development from ages 3 to 18. However, one common finding when carrying out classroom observations is that there are significantly more lower order questions asked of pupils than higher order questions. If pupils are not challenged through their learning in the top half of Bloom's taxonomy, then it is open to question whether they will have the skills to cope with jobs that require these higher level skills. The challenge for teachers is to scaffold their questions to take pupils to higher levels, challenging pupils with higher order questions and encouraging deeper discussion between teacher and pupils, and between pupils themselves. Using Bloom's Taxonomy as a guide, teachers can scaffold the level of questions they use with pupils from lower order questions around memorising and recalling right up to higher order questions at the top of the triangle. Here they help develop children's creative thinking skills. On average, we would hope to see in observations a rough balance of 50:50 lower order versus higher order questions from the upper end of primary and in secondary over the course of a session. Of course, in some classes on any one day we might see an emphasis on lots of lower end questions and this could be entirely appropriate for a specific lesson. In others there could be a different balance. This is why observers must be very careful about reaching any conclusions from one observation alone. However, even in the younger years of primary we would expect to see children being challenged with higher order questions. If an observee and observer were to run a lesson observation on the quality of teacher questioning they might spend some time in the pre-observation meeting discussing lower order and higher order questions in order to be absolutely clear of the focus of the observations. The following examples use the story of the three little pigs as the topic. The Three Little Pigs Here are some examples of lower order questions that a teacher might ask: Lower order questions Here are some examples of lower order questions: • • • How many little pigs are there? What happened to the first two little pigs' houses? Who blew them down?

These are lower order questions designed to test recall and understanding. Once this is established, teachers need to ask children higher order questions such as the following: Phil Silvester CBE – p.silvester@hotmail.co.uk

Presentation on Lesson Observation – for the Algerian Inspectorate
Higher order questions • • • • Imagine you were one of the three little pigs. What would you have done? Can you think of a different ending? What would you have built your house from? How would you defend the wolf's action?

In higher order questions there are no right or wrong answers; these questions are designed to stimulate thinking. In the pre-observation meeting an observee and observer may agree to focus the observation and the ensuing learning conversation around the quality of teacher questioning. As a result of their discussions they might ask the simple question: If things are going well, what would we expect to see around the focus area? They might agree from the discussion that the following would be relevant for the nature of the lesson subject matter and the characteristics of the pupils: • • • • higher order and lower order questions on a rough balance of 50:50 teacher frame-working questions from lower order to higher order pupils asking questions, lower and higher order, to teacher and to each other pupils being intellectually challenged by questions - all pupils dealing with higher order questions

These are used to both guide the observer's observations and the descriptive data that is collected, as well as shape the learning conversation that follows. This conversation is about deepening understanding around the role and importance of teacher questioning, as well as unpacking challenges and issues such as: • the differing needs of individual pupils • particular challenges of whole class higher order questioning versus lower order questioning • how to measure impact on learning It is hard to underestimate the importance of this pre-observation discussion. Both observee and observer are involved in a deep conversation around what supports effective pupil learning and the vital role of the teacher in this process. By using Bloom's taxonomy as a prop to their discussion, both develop a clear understanding of the focus for the observation and, as importantly, start to develop jointly understood concepts and a common language. The common language acts as a vehicle for learning during the post observation discussion. Reading list University of Southampton, 'Classroom questioning for trainee teachers'. Available at www.pgce.soton.ac.uk/IT/Teaching/Questioning/ (accessed 11 June 2011). S Hastings, 'Questioning', Times Educational Supplement (4 July 2003). R C Overbaugh and L Schultz, 'Bloom's Taxonomy'. Available at www.odu.edu/educ/roverbau/Bloom/blooms_taxonomy.htm (accessed 11 June 2011).

Phil Silvester CBE – p.silvester@hotmail.co.uk

Presentation on Lesson Observation – for the Algerian Inspectorate

Phil Silvester CBE – p.silvester@hotmail.co.uk