Dr. Walichowski: Now we can address some of your concerns with higher order thinking skills and informal comprehension. I think one of the ones that will immediately work for you would be Leveled Questions. So we would look at adapting questions that you are going to ask along the Blooms level continuum even the higher level Blooms continuum to your student’s particular English ability or proficiency ability and so do you think you could identify where your students fall along that English proficiency continuum? For example there is preproduction stage, there’s early production, speech emergence, and then intermediate fluency. Do you think you are able to identify where your students fall along those lines?
Christopher: Yeah I’m familiar with the stages. I’m almost positive that I could accurately identify where my students fall.
Dr. Walichowski: That’s excellent because that’s going to be the first step in doing the Leveled Questions, because we need to know how much the students can respond, with how much English proficiency they can respond, so that you can create questions that are appropriate to their level of English proficiency, and we are also going to look at Blooms Taxonomy so that we develop those questions along the different continuum so that your not just asking them like you said earlier, you know tending to ask them just knowledge, fact based type questions, so that we could ask them higher level questions and really know what they know and what they are learning.
Christopher: So you mentioned Blooms Taxonomy I’ve heard old Blooms and new Blooms, which is the best for these kind of strategies and where does that fall in line with what we are talking about?
Dr. Walichowski: That’s a good question. Basically the old Blooms and the new Blooms are identical very similar, the only difference, for our purposes in creating the stems and making sure that we are looking at the different levels, would be in terms of the wording that they use. So the new Blooms tends to be action oriented you’ll see their levels described in terms of verbs like remembering whereas in the old Blooms you’ll see terms that are more noun related like knowledge. And that’s the only difference and so in terms of using either one of the blooms it’s going to work really well for you. And actually online most of the questions stems that I want you to look at online are going to still focus on old Blooms because they’re essentially the same. So you could just go online and type in “Blooms Taxonomy question stems” and you’ll see a plethora of sites that will come up and what I would like you to do is just get some index cards that you can easily punch a hole in and fasten with a ring and you can have one card for each level of the levels of Blooms Taxonomy and on them just write some of the question stems that we offer in our tool kit or that you can find online. You put the little ellipses marks at the end for each question so that you can use it in different settings either add more to the question or that’s where you solicit the response the response from the student. And so this way you can use this in a very planned way, so while you are creating a lesson if you actually script some of your questions, you can use the cards or you can use them spontaneously and that’s one of the things I did in my classroom I would just carry them around to make sure I turned to each card enough got a good distribution of them and pulled questions from the different categories to ask students.
Christopher: Yeah I think I could definitely do that.
Dr. Walichowski: And actually as a matter of fact when I used these in my classroom it just so happened that each of my cards was a different color and the students knew cause I introduced them to the concept of knowledge along the Blooms Taxonomy, and so when I approached them to ask them a question they knew that if they were in the blue section that I was going to be a little more of a challenge for them. So it was just really cute to see them following along, so they knew what I was doing in terms of my instruction and asking them questions as well.
Christopher: That’s cool I think I could definitely implement something like that in my classroom. So are the questions at the higher level require the student to have to speak more or how does that work?
Dr. Walichowski: Yes one would think so; however, when you are leveling the questions you’re able to avoid obligating the student to have certain level of English proficiency in order to be able to respond to those higher type of questions like evaluations, synthesis, and application. And so we are going be very purposeful with our leveled questions to allow them to be to respond at that level without having a lot of English ability. So even someone at the early production stage can be able to answer these types of higher order questions. What you do as a teacher is you would really have to think of a question, break it down and even allow a yes or no response. You might even allow response that requires a gesture like a nod or pointing to something as well and then if you break the questions down you may need to go through three different levels of Blooms to be able to work up to that point, so you may not ask the evaluation question or the synthesis question right away you may have to start with knowledge then just build to an application then maybe eventually the synthesis question.
Christopher: “Yes – they don’t have that money now the bank is going to come back and say well you don’t have this money, neither does she – you’ve already wrote into your account that they have already given you fifty dollars. Now the bank is saying hey they are no good for it, so now they owe you fifty dollars and you don’t have that fifty dollars so you need to credit your?” Student answers account. “Yes. No you are crediting your cash.” Students answer ok.
Dr. Walichowski: Note Christopher’s interaction with the students. This is an example of using leveled questions. He is asking them leveled questions at the preproduction and early production stages wherein they need only answer with one word.