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June 08, 2010

Bloom's Taxonomy in Pre-K

Analysis and reasoning may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a pre-k classroom, but they’re actually crucial teaching components largely missing from early childhood curricula in our country.

The Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) is an observation tool developed at the University of Virginia by Bob Pianta. In the 2007 Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act, the instrument was suggested as a valid and reliable research based tool for evaluating Head Start teacher’s overall classroom quality and interactions with their students. Nationally, pre-k teachers typically score low in the dimension of Concept Development., which focuses on teaching children to use analysis and reasoning along with how they can connect the classroom activities to their everyday lives. Traditional teacher-directed pre-k classrooms have focused more on cognitive development related to the knowledge and comprehension levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Yet an increasing body of research that supports the importance of early language development shows a need to emphasize Concept Development. The CLASS is one way to consider these types of interactions and rate them on a scale.

When pre-k teachers do apply analysis and reasoning, it’s typically problem-solving in the classroom. When two kids want the same toy, you have a problem. Solving scenarios like this student-to-student develops the critical thinking skills of all involved and teaches manners, deferred gratification and coping mechanisms. Another way to accomplish this feat would be for teachers to cater their academic curriculum to what is happening with their student’s home. Picking themes common to a pre-k student’s experience will enable all to participate while offering the opportunity for each child to speak from their own unique experiences.

I would love to hear what you do with your students to practice analyzing and encourage reasoning in the classroom. Also, how do you connect school learning to home experiences and vice versa?

Comments

The great Bobbi Fisher does a wonderful job in the classic, Joyful Learning in Kindergarten. It has lots of great ideas for helping students develop critical thinking. As far as Bloom's goes, the list of creating rather than rote or concrete response should be the world of child development in pre-K. When left to their own devices, kids create, observe and analyze. So discussion WITH the children rather than directions AT the children can facilitate and mutual understanding. As a pre-k teacher my class we can do simple things to increase this vocabulary. Start with the open ended ( few examples below) discussion/dictation starters.

What do/did you...
Notice...
See...
Think...
Hope...
Like...
Dislike..

And follow with an analysis question to help your young learners get used to justifying/using evidence to support their thinking.
Why? How? What made you think/feel that way?

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