Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Week 2 Reflections
In Brazil it is very common to find lots of English teachers who don`t have any formal academic background in the area. Sometimes they have a job as an English teacher because they have lived abroad and are quite fluent and it`s an easy way to make some money while they are taking their major in college(and the major is not even necessarily related to languages or education). Expertise usually comes after years of practice and a lot of professional development opportunities, like conferences, workshops and special training sessions. In many countries, you can only get a job as a teacher after you have finished your undergraduate and graduate programs and have acquired deep knowledge in strategic areas, such as methodology, linguistics, psychology and grammar. Well, not in Brazil! I myself started working as a teacher before I reached my 20s, way before I decided to take a major in EFL in college. Because of this reality it is easy to conclude that theorical and academic knowledge are not necessarily the strongest assets among Brazilian teachers. And now you might be asking: what does it all have to do with this week`s input?
In fact, I must say that it is closely related to the texts I read this week. This is actually the first time I have read something about Bloom and his taxonomy and I am really happy because I`m getting genuine opportunities to refine my skills by adding a lot of theory and formal knowledge to my extensive experience in the classroom. By learning more theory I can surely reflect better about my practices and identify areas in which I can improve.
It took me hours of reading to absorb all the information and I had to search for additional sources to have a more complete understanding of the subject. First, I didn`t even know the meaning of the word taxonomy. I went to dictionary.com and read the definition. I also acessed Wikipedia and read some information about Bloom`s taxonomy ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_Taxonomy )
After this extra search I understood that taxonomy is a way of classifying and categorizing things and that Bloom , decades ago, tried to categorize learning objectives. The illustration above shows his first classification and the updated version, which ,according to what I read, seems to be more accurate and easier to understand. I have also learned that for each category , there is a list of verbs that are commonly used and reflect the idea behind each of them.
When I started reading all texts I thought that objectives could be broken into pieces and that each piece would be a different stage of the objective. Then, I thought the objective was only achieved when the last stage was reached. However, after a lot of reflection, I realized that the stages are there to show us that the higher categories are only possible if the lower ones were mastered before. And as far as I could understand, these categories co-exhist independently. For example: if my objective in class is to make students remember a certain grammar point, then I would have to ask them to list, name,highlight,search, just to name a few actions (according to Andrew Churches` text "Bloom`s Taxonomy Blooms Digitally". But if my objective is to have students apply content taught,they need to necessarily have mastered the prerequisites which are "remembering" and "understanding", the categories that come before "applying". In pratical terms, I think it is very useful to know about this classification because you will probably achieve your objectives only if the prerequisites have been met. Moreover, according to one of the texts I read which discusses the importance of classifying objectives(http://edtech.tennessee.edu/~bobannon/classifications.html), "the type of objectives attempted dictate the selection of instructional methods, media and evaluation used in the lesson."
In sum , I think that having formal academic support, like knowing about the taxonomy chart, can take a lesson plan to the next level in terms of quality and successful achievements.