Here is an embarrassingly low-level pair of questions I asked my students:

- What was the problem in this story?
- How was the problem solved?

Now, it is *technically* a sequence of questions. But my students are stuck at the lowest levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. I’m going to get the **same responses from even my most brilliant students**.

So, once a student can identify the problem and solution in a story, what’s next?

### Aim For Analyze

I always want to get to Analyze on Bloom’s (which I wrote about here). Analyze will naturally unlock the higher levels of thinking. Analyze means that we’re comparing, contrasting, and categorizing. So I want students to **think of other stories with similar problems**. In the story “Stella Luna,” for example, a baby bat lives with birds and feels out of place. Your students will *easily* think of other characters who face this same problem.

Here’s what we have now:

- What was the problem in the story? What was the solution to that problem?
- Think of at least four other stories with a similar problem.

### Up To Evaluate

Next, I’d ask students to Evaluate the stories they thought of. And I don’t want to ask a dull question like “Which story was best?” Let’s sharpen our question and ask something like:

- Which story with a similar problem is the most unusual?
- Which of these stories would Stella Luna be most surprised by?
- Which of these stories’ problems had the most unrealistic solution?

But just pick one to give your students. Choice is overrated

Here’s my updated sequence:

- What was the problem in the story? What was the solution to that problem?
- Think of at least four other stories with a similar problem.
- Which of those stories would surprise Stella Luna the most?

### Synthesize

Now that we’ve hit Remember / Understand, Analyze, and Evaluate, we can give students a Synthesize-level task. My students will rewrite our main story, changing the setting or plot. This will lead to a new version of *Stella Luna*.

In my class, we call this a “remix.” We did it with “The Three Little Pigs” early in the year. I will never forget the version one student wrote called, “The Three Rival Pork Merchants.” It was set in medieval Europe. Now, most students created less whimsical versions. I had lots of “Three Big Dogs.” Some students didn’t even reach Part Four.

But all of that is okay. **That is what differentiation looks like**. Advanced students should create work that is *clearly* beyond their peers. All students should not get through every step. When you differentiate, the end results should be obviously different.

### The Final Sequence

So we took “What is the story’s problem? How did they solve it?” and expanded it into a four-part sequence of tasks:

- What was the problem in the story? What was the solution to that problem?
- Think of at least four other stories with a similar problem.
- Which of those stories would surprise Stella Luna the most?
- Now, take the story
Stella Lunaand rewrite it. The basic problem should be the same, but the setting, plot, and characters can change as much as you’d like.

I guarantee you that you won’t have the “Mr. Byrd, I’m done. What do I do now?” problem (more on “early finishers” here). If a student finishes their remix, they can design the cover, build an advertising campaign, or record an audiobook. They can read their peers’ stories and give each one a unique award. This type of task naturally scales up and up!

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