So, you’ve met the eleven dimensions of depth and complexity. Today you’ll be introduced to another set of rigor-increasing, engagement-enhancing thinking tools known as the content imperatives, also developed by Sandra Kaplan.
Much like the depth and complexity prompts, the content imperatives are thinking tools designed to dig deeper into any content. They provide a simple way to differentiate curriculum and increase complexity for gifted learners. Each content imperative has a corresponding icon, just like depth and complexity. And, just like depth and complexity, those icons are super annoying to type, so I recommend emoji for the icons!
- Origin – – ⏺
- Paradox – – ↔️
- Parallel – – ⏸
- Convergence – – 🔄
- Contribution – – ⏬
Try It With Popcorn
I always start with something students are familiar with when learning a new way of thinking. Here we’ll start with popcorn:
- What are the ⏺️ origins of popcorn?
- Examine the ↔️ paradox of health and flavor in popcorn.
- What cultures have a snack food that ⏸️ parallels popcorn?
- What has ⏬ contributed to the popularity of popcorn?
- What factors 🔄 converge to cause popcorn to pop?
Apply To Your Curriculum
- What are the ⏸️ parallels between addition and multiplication?
- What are the ⏺️ origins of democracy?
- What factors 🔄 converged to solve the problem in this story?
- How does heat ⏬ contribute to density?
- Identify a ↔️ paradox in this character’s actions and thoughts.
Combine With Depth and Complexity
Now, Content Imperatives’ true power comes when we combine them with depth and complexity and a high level of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
- Rather than just asking about “origins” in general, ask about “the ⏺️ origins of the 🚦 rules” or “the ⏺️ origins of the ⚖️ ethical problems” in the topic you’re studying.
- Don’t just ask about “parallels,” ask about “⏸️ parallel ⚖️ ethical issues” or “⏸️ parallel 🌀 patterns.”
- Not just investigating “convergence,” but ask how “👓 multiple perspectives 🔄 converge” or how “🌻 details 🔄 converge to form 🌀 patterns.”
- Compare and contrast the ⏺️ origins of the 🚦rules in the USA and England.
- Analyze the ⏸️ parallels of two characters’ 👓 perspectives.
- Judge which 🌻 details ⏬ contributed most to the success of an experiment.
Each content imperative acts as a lens to make depth and complexity even more specific.
Climb Bloom’s Taxonomy
All of these prompts should be combined with Bloom’s Taxonomy to unlock real depth.
Beware asking students to only “identify” or “look for examples” of origins, parallels, and paradoxes. Instead:
- Compare and contrast the ⏺️ origins of 🚦 rules
- Justify an opinion about the ⏸️ parallels of ⚖️ ethical issues
- Explain how ⏳ change over time is a ↔️ paradox
- Create a new example of how details 🔄 converge to create a 🌀 pattern
Each step up Bloom’s increases the thinking required from students. And by combining depth and complexity, content imperatives, and Bloom’s, you’ll add incredible power to any bland ol’ objective.
Try out The Differentiator to play with adding Content Imperatives to a lesson objective.
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