One thing about the original version of Bloom’s Taxonomy that I prefer is the word “synthesize.” I think “synthesize” is a million times more appropriate than its counterpart “create” on the revised version.
So, I present my re-revised edition of Bloom’s Taxonomy! 😆
My problem with “create” is that it’s so often misinterpreted to mean merely “creative” which then implies drawings and crayons and glitter. Just because kids are “creating” something doesn’t mean they’re thinking at the top level of Bloom’s.
“Students will create a drawing of the planets in the correct order.”
This task statement is at the very bottom of Blooms, despite the word “create”. Now, “synthesize” is meaty! It sounds impressive. No one will confuse “synthesize” with “draw a picture of the planets.” But, at the same time, what the heck does this level of Bloom’s look like in practice?
My Recipe For “Synthesize”
My favorite recipe for a synthesize-level task is to ask students to make a change to existing content, and then explain the effects of that change.
- What if we changed something about the earth’s atmosphere? What effects would that lead to?
- Make two changes to this math expression and explain the effects.
- Change the setting of Hatchet and explain how this would affect the tone of the story. (We called this “remixing a story”).
- What if Van Gogh used a different color for the background of Sunflowers? How would that impact the painting?
- Imagine that you changed one adaptation of the desert mouse. How would that affect its survival?
You can see how these questions demand a deep understanding of the content. They will require thinking. They may require extra information. These are also nice examples of divergent questions since, while there are many correct answers, there are also clearly wrong answers. In other words, these are not fluffy questions!
Now, sure, your top student will be able to tackle these right away.
But you’ll have way more success if you thoughtfully scaffold the task. Create at least two sub-tasks before you get to this synthesize level.
- List the layers of the earth’s atmosphere. Explain, in one sentence, why each one is important.
- Now create a ranking of the layers in order of importance. No ties allowed!
- Imagine if you were to change something about one of these layers. How would that impact the earth?
Pro-tip: only reveal the next task once a student has successfully completed the previous task. I wouldn’t let kids start ranking until I was satisfied with their list and explanations, for example.