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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Teaching and Learning with Blooms

I could not think on my feet on which point to focus at the beginning of reflection, and have been pondering over the assignments I did, the texts I read, the discussions I enjoyed for days. It appeared to me that writing a reflection on academic learning is quite a challenging job. It is personal, and not personal simultaneously. I need to record my personal attitudes and experiences which must appear to others meaningful, organized, suggestive, and significant. However, reflection on MIDT experiences and applications takes me back to Penang Workshop (IDRC-PANdora) when I became familiar with e-learning, and became aware of the fact that organized, well directed, focused, involved learning lead a learner to be an expert learner and gradually an educator. I remember Prof David and Prof Abtar involving us in creative exercises. In fact my experience at the Penang Workshop was substantiated by a week long Virtual Interactive Class (VIC) that Dr Yousuf (another MIDT student) had conducted. On attending the workshop I learnt to prepare student-engaging lecture scripts. Let me clarify a bit more. As VIC appeared and still seems to me a cluster of academic lessons concentrating on creative pedagogy, potential creative learners are hooked in original thinking and gradually are led to authentic English language production. Here I interpret the word ‘authentic’ in connection with producing sentences, and compositions on their own effort which is not influenced by rote learning that throughout their student career is tagged with them.

My admission in MIDT programme has opened for me a window of incredibly big and fabulously rich world of educational science and arts as well for which I convey my profound thankfulness to my Creator. MIDT shaped my previous knowledge and experiences. For example I was guided to think critically about lower order thinking (LOT) skills and higher order thinking (HOT) skills while preparing Prof Dunning’s
assignment on Bloom’s taxonomy. Benjamin S. Bloom’s extensively contemplative classification of thinking levels is now acting upon me as an indispensible formula for teaching-learning. Now I engage learners with a methodical consciousness, dig out learners’ previous learning ignited by a sense of strong zeal for advanced learning through critical and creative thinking. I am feeling tempted to add an activity from my ELT class at the undergraduate level, which I have chosen for my capstone project. ELT course aims to prepare future teachers of English, who are to create a syllabus, and teach the language in the secondary level classes, with Bengali medium background. Rather than directly starting with the theories, I started the course with extracting learners’ ideas on ‘how best one can learn English?’

Learners were required to write key words only on that question on green cards, stick the cards on a white board, and organized cards of similar ideas in one column, with a title for each column and then produce a draft syllabus on poster papers. Student artifacts were uploaded in the Wiki I am using for my research. The cards required students’ previous learning and experiences to recall(LOT); whereas the posters reflect students’ creative imagination, and synthesis of previous learning and practical experiences (HOT). Once the proposed syllabus were presented before the class, the whole class commented, analysed, and evaluated other group’s proposals (HOT) []. Before studying Bloom and preparing Prof Dunning’s assignment, I never consciously thought of engaging students in different level of activities that assist them to emerge as autonomous and creative learners. Students who participated actively in the activities are now confident, enthusiastic, and feel that they are the owners of the whole system of learning. On taking proctored final examination on ELT, I asked them about how much you copied in the examination. The replies boosted me up, “In such an engaging course, we don’t need to copy.”

Now I’d like to share my experience with Bachelor of English Language Teaching (BELT) programme conducted by Bangladesh Open University in distance mode. The students get tutorial assistance twice a month face to face. For the rest of the period, learners are left alone with the textbooks only. They take the examinations with whatever they memorized from the book. Now with Prof Dunning’s guidance through ‘Design and Development of Interactive E learning’ course I am planning a Wiki for BELT program where learners will be able to clarify their problems, interact with peers and students, and gradually develop creative ability in learning and teaching. Involvement and interaction have tremendous impact on learning & creating learning environment that lead to a sense of profound achievement.

While I look back and assess my previous teaching technique I find a dramatic change in it. A table comparing my past and present teaching methodology would focus the change:

[Double click to enlarge the table]

In the table I contemplated on six aspects of teaching, i) delivery mechanism ii) class Managementnt iii) teacher-student relationship iv) student-student relationship v) use of tools and vi) examination.

My past teaching started directly with texts. e.g., while teaching ELT before, I directly focused the theories, explained, wrote main points on board. The process was lecture based & text based. I couldn’t manage class. Felt disturbed with weak students. Strong students followed lectures and felt superior. There was no collaboration and communication between learners and teachers. The only tool used in class was white board. In the examination students produced memorized and copied answers.

My present teaching starts with brain storming, previous knowledge, & guessing. Now I start ELT classes with student’s ideas about 'how we can learn English', let them create their own syllabus, then lead them to theories which is usually done in groups/pairs. Classes are Student-centered. Students present their syllabus on ESL. Now I’m confident and know how to engage in learning even the weakest of students. Collaboration & cooperation between S-S work fantastic. Wonderful team work. Weak students feel safe that they have friends and supports for their progress. They communicate & share. They’re never exhausted even in a lengthy class, Computer, e-mail, power points, Wiki, internet resources , mobile phone, SMS, are used as learning tools. No copying or memorised production in examination. They understand, analyse, synthesize, create genuine answers in examinations.

Prof Dunning was one of the two facilitators on the course HMDD 5603 Design and Development of Interactive e-learning in the 3rd semester of MIDT programme. Along with the 1st assignment of Prof Dunning, I thought the 2nd Assignment should be included as it further elaborates Bloom's taxonomy in connection with learning objects.

The purpose of adding these two assignments are that I got them directly connected with my learning and professional experiences. All MIDT students, general learners, instructional designers are target audience for the artifacts. Dunning himself gave a detailed view on learning objects, learning styles, and Bloom's order. I want my classmates to share their ways of applying the learning objects in the blog. The impact of these courses on my professional life is enormous as I have explained above in my reflection for the 1st Assignment of Prof. Dunning.


  1. Dear Meherun

    You have a very good captivating start for this post ( read reflection). It flows very nicely and sets a good ground for what is to come in the next lines.

    You have picked up an important point from the Bloom's taxonomy that both the LOT and HOT are important; and that both should be addressed in a lesson. Another point that I have noticed while reading your reflection and artifact is that you understand the idea, of taking students from known to unknown and from simpler to complex tasks, well.

    You are right to point out that Bloom has not taken into consideration the social aspect of learning. whereas, realising the importance of interaction among learners particularly in the online instruction, I think, you have rightfully addressed this aspect in your teaching.

    Meherun, it is nice to learn that you have been able to apply your learning of the Blooms taxonomy and its key principles in your teaching and gaining fruitful results thereafter.

    Best regards

  2. Dear Meherun and Sarah,

    I agree with Sarah. Meherun your reflection shows depth and how Bloom's can prove useful in the classroom. Good reflection!

    Can you give more examples of how you have taken social learning into your classroom for us?

    At the end of your post, your table seems to have broken up. I find some interesting points in it. Can you fix the table so that we can all benefit from it.

    Best regards.


  3. What a reflection. Outstanding. If there is no problem with the length of it as an eportfolio entry then it is wonderful. I have learned a great deal from you about what the MIDT course has done for you - and it has done the same for me and I know for others too. Like Yusuf I will like to know more about the social learning in your classroom.

    It is clear that you have progressed because the changes have made you a different individual. And this is precisely what education is suppose to do to all of us.

  4. Just read your post again and I must say that I like the transformation. Keep on documenting them and surely it can lead to a research paper. That is what I have starting doing because in my country there is little Research and Development (R&D).

    Tell me colleagues, I am thinking about creating an R&D team at the secondary school where I work. Do you think that this is a good idea. I have some thoughts running through my head although a buy-in by my staff is the biggest challenge. I think we all know the importance of R&D as without it organizations may not be able to move forward. Please give me your views. Thanks.

  5. Hi Meherun
    Well done for good reflection. I wish to focus on the aspect of authentic writing and how your transformed teaching approach has in turn led to meaningful learning on the part of your students: [potential creative learners are hooked in original thinking and gradually are led to authentic English language production]. How do you react to tendency here in my country to now focus more on communicative aspect of language learning at the expense of the grammar basics?

  6. Meherun

    Wonderful work. Great job meherun.

    Can you give us some examples of your work and in particular use of the various devices for your class ?


  7. Dear Steve,

    I strongly agree with you that research & development is inevitable for academic progress.But for R& D, 'motivation' is the key term to be addressed. I was wondering how could we motivate academics, administration, students to be involved in R& D.

    I've completed a paper on CLT at the secondary level in Bangladesh. It'd be very helpful for me if you can give me some data on the language teaching-learning situation in your country at secondary level. We can do a comparative study.


  8. Dear Thula,
    This semester I was assigned to teach 'Beowoulf', an old English epic poem, for which I involved learners firstly with small thoughts about and experiences with literature they have. Rather than directly focusing on the text ‘Beowulf’ I asked them to write answers of "Why do we read literature?" They recorded thoughts in key words on about 60 small green cards, which were arranged in 3 columns on the white board and they added title cards of pink colour to each of the column. They were then advised to choose a theme from the card presentation and prepare a small drama on that theme. (I’ll upload the plays on open drive and give you the link).

    They worked in 3 groups to stage their plays. Then I led the class to discuss on how many themes do their plays address. Spontaneously they generated a discussion using both English & Bengali.
    The beginning of producing authentic thoughts & language are linked with psychological issues like no one is criticizing them for their silly answers, they are the owner of the production artifact, they are initiating and organizing the session, and a feeling that they are an integral part of teaching –learning system.

    Thula, for your 2nd query, my experience is that
    raw grammar class fails to encourage learners use the language in real life situations. But communicative classes deal with a language in a lively way by infusing spirit in the learning system. And communicative system is not without grammar! Traditional system and CLT differs in methodology. CLT focuses more on language use not memorizing language rules.


  9. Your artefact clearly demonstrates how Bloom Taxonomy is applied to bring students from lower-level to higher level cognitive skills. Good Job!