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Joseph Kaminski

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November 23, 2017

Merging Technology with Kagan


If you’re in the public education system, then you’ve heard about (or have been forced to use) Kagan activities like Bloom’s Taxonomy Questions and the Fan-n-Pick Strategy – two methods to incite engagement through knowledge-based questions that we’ll be talking about today. I personally have a bias against Kaganist (clever pun, please love it) activities, but I can understand their use in certain scenarios. My main concern about the infiltration of Kagan in the world of education is that it doesn’t necessarily keep students interested and involved in lesson plans.

Bloom’s Taxonomy Questions are the perfect example of the “higher leveled thinking” or “higher order questioning” that every teacher discusses at one point or another. Knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis synthesis, and evaluation tends to be the proper chain of events to get a student from barely understanding the unit to having them master the topic at hand.

For those of you who don’t know, here are Bloom’s Taxonomy Questions:

Level 1: Knowledge
Define, Draw, Repeat, Record, Label, Identify, Name, List
Name the author of the book.

Level 2: Comprehension
Classify, Compare, Contrast, Translate, Explain, Summarize, Give Examples
Compare the weather from yesterday with today.

Level 3: Application
Apply, Calculate, Compare, Demostrate, Illustrate, Practice, Solve, Use, Predict, Show
Complete the sentence using a vocabulary word from the lesson.

Level 4: Analysis
Analyze, Classify, Discuss, Divide, Explain, Infer, Inspect
Explain why it is important to have classroom rules.

Level 5: Synthesis
Arrange, Combine, Construct, Create, Design, Develop, Generalize, Organize, Plan, Categorize, Predict, Rearrange
Predict what would happen if a law was passed that made commercials on television illegal.

Level 6: Evaluation
Assess, Critique, Estimate, Evaluate, Judge, Rank, Rate, Recommend, Test, Value, Justify
What requirements for employing a new teacher would you recommend to the principal?

Source: STEDI

It might look like Bloom’s Taxonomy Questions pretty much cover anything in the classroom environment. However, there still remains a severely negative attribute. When students are already on a Level 4 or Level 5 understanding of the subject, but are then forced to answer Level 1 questions that mean nothing to the advancement of their knowledge.

On the other hand, strategies like the Fan-n-Pick is absolute trash. Although STEDI and several other teaching curriculum do a great job pointing out all the positive blurbs, several student-based activities have a tendency to fail – especially when at the hands of a substitute teacher with no actual lesson plan. Students need to feel a connection with their teacher in order to create a respectable, productive, and interactive learning environment.

We can easily see students ignoring the assignment – graded or not – in favor of talking about literally anything else. From personal experience as a student and a student teacher, I can easily recall back to how my peers and my students reacted to this sort of “Pair up, students! Talk about the questions at hand! Try to study!” form of learning.

The Fan-n-pick strategy is not a feasible 50-minute activity for every level of learning or every type of classroom – the same way Bloom’s Taxonomy Questions won’t necessarily be effectively worthwhile if Level 1 questions are asked to Level 5 students. In a bureaucratic opinion, these are perfect methods to keep students engaged. In my personal opinion, they have negative attributes that should be recognized before praising as perfect.

There are several different interactive ways of studying and answering likely questions than the Fan-n-pick method of asking questions. Honestly, as long as Bloom’s Taxonomy Questions are used properly they are applicable in any sense. The Fan-n-pick strategy seems to be a “last ditch, I have no idea what else to do, the teacher didn’t prepare me for this lesson plan, methodical” approach that many substitute teachers are forced to take into consideration.

One proposal I’ve researched extensively is to encourage studying questions would be the digital approach. In recent years, we’ve witnessed the technological attributes enter the classroom – in good ways or in bad. More class-based or single-based interaction could easily occur for substitutes if technology could be approached in a more satisfactory way. Of course, when many educators hear of technology in the classroom, their first thoughts go to obnoxious cellular phones or worthless educational movies that most students ignore or sleep through. However, in recent years, new forms of technology have been proposed to enter the classroom.

Interactive activities should make students want to come to class and learn – not give them incentive to goof off and waste valuable time like I would perceive a Pick-n-fan activity to encourage (if the teacher were to lose the students in terms of engagement). Embracing technology may be what brings a more positive reaction towards students when it comes to implying and analyzing important questions.

As one source discussed: “using the tools they find in their world can help students feel more comfortable in class, which can help them open up and interact”.

If teacher-oriented/controlled activities were presented through a technological sense, we’d see more classroom interaction on a one-by-one level through a mix of interest and applicability…no matter what subject it might be. I’ve written on the subject of using a classroom structure (for background information, in the very least) revolving around technology in the past, and I’ll link one of my articles for you here.

According to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Training and Simulation Association, technology-based instruction can reduce the amount of time it takes students to reach learning objectives by anywhere between thirty and eighty percent. The Public Broadcasting Service conducted a survey in 2012 which recorded that over 80% of students believe that “tablets [and other technological integrations in the classroom] enrich education.

In a world attaching itself to technology, integrating it only seems like a logical step when it comes to giving students every resource they need. The whole point of this response was to direct how to solve the problem of “non-interaction” that we may see when using lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy or the Fan-n-pick in an environment that may not like it; and I predict that if technology was intertwined with certain aspects of question-and-answer based learning, we’d see students becoming more excited than ever for study days and test days alike.

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