Thursday, February 2, 2023

Thinking Skills

Thinking comes in many forms . . .

Sometimes it just requires remembering the capital of Iowa or where you put your keys.  Other times thinking is more complex as we decide how to apply the new skills we just learned. It might also involve analyzing the differences between two approaches to solving a problem. Thinking often requires us to evaluate different opportunities so that we can create something that is uniquely original.

An educator's responsibility is to build these skills in our learners. We need to develop thinking skills that range all the way from remembering a simple fact to creating a complex project. As educators, we need to be aware of these different levels of thinking and mindfully create learning opportunities for our students that will develop thinking at all levels.

The basic level of thinking is called Lower-Order Thinking (LOTS).  This is the level where you memorize facts and poems and equations. You are rewarded by remembering them when needed. Remembering things is useless unless you understand what these things mean. Knowing what things mean is important, but it takes another level of responsibility to actually apply your knowledge to the real world.

The more complex level of thinking is called Higher-Order Thinking (HOTS).  This is the level where you really have to be engaged.  You use what you know to analyze original situations. You evaluate them for good and bad.  You even take on the responsibility to use your background and knowledge to create new and original projects and ideas.

Knowing about these levels of thinking will enable you to create learning experiences this semester that will challenge your students. Basic facts (like the names of planets) are useful, but being able to list those facts is not enough to be valuable in real life.  You will need to provide your students with challenges where they can apply these basic facts in a new and creative way.

Bloom's Taxonomy
Yes, we know that you have probably learned about Bloom's Taxonomy in other classes but please don't "turn off."  Your mastery of teaching and learning at these levels is what will enhance the meaning of your students' learning.

These levels of thinking are captured in Bloom's Taxonomy. Developed in 1954 to identify different types of questions, this taxonomy has evolved into a model which classifies the various levels of thinking that we have been discussing.  (Click CC in the video below for closed captions)

As we progress through Ed Tech and Design, you will be asked to write statements that define what you want your learners to be able to do to prove that they have learned throughout your thematic unit.  These statements (Objectives) will use observable verbs to define the behavior you want your students to exhibit. The key to success is for you to use the appropriate observable verbs so that your learners will know what to do.  Here is a list of observable verbs that you will be able to use this week and next week as you learn about instructional design. These verbs are important.  Remember that the Verb is the Word.  This will all be discussed in more detail in this week's lecture.

It can be useful to review Teaching Strategies that Enhance Higher-Order Thinking.  Spend some time reviewing the strategies included in the article. How could you engage some of them in your area of teaching? Refer to Bloom's taxonomy as you review this article and consider which levels you would engage with each of the strategies. 

Higher-Level Thinking in the Classroom - Middle School
A middle-school teacher from Georgetown School District demonstrates how she promotes higher-order thinking in the classroom. Watch this video to see how this teacher expanded her students' thinking through questioning. This even includes a principal's perspective on the process.  (Click CC in the video for closed captions)


Depths of Knowledge (DOK)
While Bloom's Taxonomy terms are used in objectives to describe the "Thinking Processes" a student might use in problem-solving, this isn't used to evaluate the complexity of the assessments teachers will use to evaluate their students' learning. Depths of Knowledge (DOK) is a system that resembles Bloom's Taxonomy in some ways, but it is used to evaluate the complexity of the tests and projects teachers might use to assess their students. 

DOK involves 4 Levels: Recall, Skill/Concept, Strategic Thinking, and Extended Thinking.   The diagram below compares how the DOK can relate to Bloom's Taxonomy.

The following video explains the role that Bloom's Taxonomy and Depths of Knowledge play in learning and assessing thinking processes and levels of complexity in assessment.  
NOTE: The following video is created by the same company that created the Bloom's Taxonomy video above.  The intro theme and narrator are the same but the content is different.

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
Nurturing Higher-Order thinking is the basis for developing and rewarding creativity. Steven Johnson, one of our most innovative, popular thinkers explores (in exhilarating style) one of our key questions: Where do good ideas come from? Johnson provides the story of how we generate the ideas that push our careers, our lives, our education, our society, and our culture forward. 

So HOW do we integrate Higher-Order Thinking Skills into our Learning and Teaching?  Here are a few ideas by Sir Ken Robinson.

Collaboration in the 21st Century: Sir Ken Robinson
Watch how Sir Robinson explores ways that education can prepare students for the collaboration they will use in their future lives. This is an inspiring video that explains how collaboration supports innovation.  (Click CC in the video for closed captions)

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Systematic Instructional Design

This set of Readings, Watchings, Listenings, and Doings (RWLDs) will prepare you for the lecture on "Systematic Instructional Design" and also help you plan an interdisciplinary thematic unit of instruction.  

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a teaching approach designed to address the needs and abilities of all learners. It is designed to eliminate the unnecessary barriers to the learning process that some people experience. This involves creating a flexible learning environment where learners are engaged in new material in a variety of ways.  New information is presented to learners in multiple formats. Students are provided multiple options for demonstrating that they have learned the new material. 

The following 5-minute video is a primer in UDL which provides an easy-to-understand foundation of Universal Design for Learning.

Developing Instruction Using Backwards Design

Designing instruction requires more than a good idea. It requires an educator to begin with the end in mind and then design instruction that will lead to mastery of the desired outcome. This is called Backward Design. 

Here is a video that uses the metaphor of planning a trip to describe Backward Design.

Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?  If you don't know where you will be going, you won't be able to figure out how to get there.

Backward Design is the basis for an instructional design system called Understanding by Design.

The Understanding by Design framework has 3 parts:
  1. Identify Desired Results
    1. What will students know?
    2. What will students be able to do?
  2. Determine Acceptable Evidence
    1. What performance will meaning-making and transfer
  3. Create the Learning Plans
    1. Learning Plan (instruction)
    2. Learning Activities (experiences)
Bernajean Porter does a good job of explaining the aspects of Understanding by Design. The most significant point that she makes is that starting with the "End in Mind" is just common sense.

Understanding by Design
is a framework which provides direction for unit lesson planning. It begins by identifying the Desired Outcomes and Results and then makes a plan to achieve that outcome.

Technology Standards for Students

Subject standards are necessary for knowing WHAT to teach in subject areas and Technology standards can provide guidance for HOW to support learning in these areas using technology. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has developed Standards for Students that organize the necessary skills and personal roles. A collection of four skill descriptions (with active verbs) have been identified as necessary for each role.

Download these ISTE Standards for Students.  These seven roles include:
  1. Empowered Learner.
  2. Digital Citizen
  3. Knowledge Constructor
  4. Innovative Designer
  5. Computational Thinker
  6. Creative Communicator
  7. Global Collaborator
Putting It All Together with TPACK
Teaching and Learning through technology is much more than just using Powerpoint and Twitter. It is an integration of Technology, Pedagogy (Teaching Strategies), and Content Knowledge.  The Venn diagram below shows how each of these areas can combine and impact the others.  Certain forms of Technology can be used to support specific teaching strategies (Pedagogy).  That is the TPK intersection.  Specific forms of pedagogy are used to teach specific forms of Content Knowledge.  Ultimately the TPACK educator is interested in teaching in the "sweet spot" in the middle where all three areas are fully integrated.
    Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by
Read more about the TPACK model (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) which we consider a framework that identifies the knowledge teachers need to teach effectively with technology.  

You can also watch this video which provides a brief introduction to TPACK in 2 minutes. 

Prepare for Your Thematic Unit
Find the Thematic Unit Description project requirements in eLearning under Labs (Class Projects). Familiarize yourself with the expectations and resources provided for your first big project in the course.

This week's lecture describes how you can select specific Iowa Curricular Standards to use as the targets when you are designing your Thematic Unit.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Connecting with the World: Giving Our Students a Voice.

Your first lecture is a recorded session from our guest speaker Shannon Miller. She is a UNI graduate and teacher-librarian and technology integration specialist at Van Meter Community School District. She is now an international speaker that encourages young people and educators to have a voice while learning, creating, collaborating, and connecting with others globally. She speaks and consults around the country on education, librarianship, technology, social media, and making a difference in education and the lives of others. She is a Future Ready Librarians and Project Connect Spokesperson at Follett Corporation.; Buncee's Teacher Librarian Advisor and Cantata Learning's Teacher Librarian Advocate. She is also the author of the award-winning The Library Voice blog.

You may follow her on Twitter at

Before watching the lecture:

Open and analyze the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards for teachers and students. ISTE standards provide a framework for learning, teaching, and leading that is amplified by technology.
  • ISTE Standards for Students emphasize the skills and qualities we want for students, enabling them to engage and thrive in a connected, digital world. 
  • ISTE Standards for Educators define the new skills and pedagogical insights educators need to teach, work, and learn in the digital age. 
Bookmark these standards, we will be coming back to them throughout the course.

Download the "I am a Digital Age Learner" poster that breaks down the standard for students in a nice concept map. Print it if possible and place it in your workspace. It should guide your future decisions when creating projects for your students.

While watching the lecture (see Lecture folder in an eLearning) :
  • Try to make a list of the skills and tools mentioned by Shannon. 
  • Do you know many skills and tools to give you and your future students a voice? 
  • What did your high, middle, and elementary school teachers do to give you a voice and connect you to the world outside of your classroom? 
  • What can you do to make your future students' learning more meaningful and engaging? 
  • Do you see an echo of ISTE standards in Shannon's teaching

collage from Shannon Miller guest speaking
Shannon Miller guest speaker

Wednesday, January 11, 2023


Welcome to Educational Technology and Design course Spring 2023 edition!

RWLDs (Reading, Watching, Listening, and Doings) collected in this blog will be your weekly activities to complete before watching the recorded lecture. 

We will release a new set of RWLD weekly each Thursday (refer to the course schedule and eLearning for the details). 

We will explain everything and answer all your questions in the lab on Monday or Tuesday. You can also ask your questions in the designated area in your eLearning course, called Q&A Discussion Board. 

For now, please bookmark this page, visit our social media (links on a sidebar) and stay tuned for more!
                        ~Your EdTech and Design team