The two previous posts (1 & 2) in this three-part series provided some background in how to recognize and teach critical thinking skills and, using Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy as a guide, embed the higher-order thinking skills into teaching and learning. The two posts also highlighted some tech-enhanced activities. In this post, I will be providing literacy ideas, using iOS apps and tools, for targeting the higher-order thinking skills on Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy- applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating.
App Smashing and Literacy Activities
One of the neat things about having apps and tools that can each do something different, is the ability to “smash” the apps. App-smashing is creating an asset in one app, another asset in another app, and combining them, usually in a third app, to create a new and exciting result! JoAnn Fox has created a great overview of app-smashing with iPad apps. Watch this great video!
There are tons of ideas for using reading and writing activities to extend thinking to move students to the higher order thinking skills levels of Bloom’s. Let’s take a look at a few of these and a app smash of apps that can work together to complete the task. These literacy strategies were chosen and app-smashed from Karen Tankersley’s book, The Threads of Reading: Strategies for Literacy Development.
Letters from the Heart Activity
Ask students to write a letter about some facet of a book. The letter can be addressed to the author, a historical figure, or a character in the book, and can be written either from the student’s perspective or from that of another character. Coach the students ahead of time with what this looks and feels like so they are using the higher levels of Blooms.
Have students write the letter using a word processor, create a drawing in a drawing program and, with a screen recording program or photo/audio app, bring in the image and make an audio recording of the letter (figure 1).
One extension activity for the “letters from the heart” activity is for each student to take the role of the letter writer AND the recipient and conduct a post-letter conversation about the content of the letter.
The most fun app, no matter what the age of the students, for conducting this conversation is Sock Puppets. Sock Puppets (figure 2) allows each speaker to have their turn in the conversation. The free app keeps the length to 30 seconds— which makes students really consider what they are going to say. The paid version allows 90 second recordings. Because of the changeability of the voice pitches, one student can easily conduct both sides of the conversation and it sounds as if two people are talking!
Wish You Were Here Postcard Activity
After reading a non-fiction book, ask students to become a character and “put” themselves in the time period, the event, or the location. They will need to conduct additional research about the time period, event, or location and gather a Creative Commons-licensed image. Next, have them write a “Wish You Were Here” postcard to their friend.
Current Postcards is an fun app to complete this assignment. (It is listed under the iPhone apps so look for it there.) Current Postcards (figure 3) makes it easy to bring in an image, write the postcard, and email it or screenshot it for sharing.
Another twist on this activity is for students to use the same image and a green screen recording tool to make a video of themselves talking about their “wish you were here” event. You will need to get a green screen, but here is video instructing you how to pick up a green sheet at the store and make your own! The DoInk Green Screen app can be used to create a green-screen video (figure 4).
Key Question Charts Activity
With Key Question charts, you provide students with a controversial question, such as “Do curfews keep teens out of trouble?” or ” Do we have a throw-away society?” Have students locate or provide them with links “pro” and “con” articles to read about the topic Have students create a chart that lists the pro argument on one side and the con argument on the other. Then ask the students to form an opinion of their own after carefully evaluating the data and to provide their reasoning strategies.
The T-Charts, Pro and Cons (figure 5) app is perfect for this activity and the finished chart can be screenshot to save to the camera roll or emailed.
Another way to do this is to put the students into groups to work collaboratively on a pro/con concept map. WeMap (figure 6) is a synchronous, collaborative concept- and mind-mapper for iOS and Android. Students can work together and add their justifications right in the app.
Drawing Inferences Activity
Provide students with comic strips or political cartoons that require them to infer what the cartoonist meant. Ask students to work with a partner or in a small group to identify what inferences they need to make to interpret the point of the cartoon, and what how they connected those inferences to things they have already learned.
Students can easily use the mobile Web browser and Padlet to upload their cartoon as the background of the Padlet (figure 7) and have the discussion by leaving notes in that venue.
Point of View Activity
Using point of view to teach inference can be fun for students. You can read a book or show a movie with a “different” point of view
One book/movie that is often used for this purpose, for students of any age, is the “True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka.
Here is an overview of the lesson. First, watch the video below.
Next, turn to your neighbor and discuss questions like:
- What is different about how this story of the three little pigs begins?
- What do we find out about the wolf?
- Why did the author tell the story from the wolf’s point of view?
- Which version of the story do you think is the correct one? Why?
The Scholastic site offers additional ideas on how to use this story (figures 8 and 9)
There are many apps that can be used to create a product and app-smash. However, there is also something to be said about becoming comfortable with one multi-purpose tool and designing assessments to have students concentrate more on the content than learning bunches of new tools. The Explain Everything app (figure 10) is the “Swiss army knife” of apps and is available for both iOS and Android platforms for $2.99 (and less through volume purchasing programs).
Using this single app, students can:
- Import images and/or videos
- Take photos and videos
- Animate objects
- Create multiple pages
- Record audio while drawing
- Do a picture-in-picture video with the front camera
- Export in many file types like MP4, PDF, JPEG, and as an Explain Everything file
- Save to many places, including the camera roll, iTuens, Evernote, Google Drive, WebDAV, Box, OneDrive, Vimeo, and more
I have concentrated mostly on iOS apps in this “HOTS for Bloom’s” series. Of course, there are Android, Chrome, Windows, and online Web tools that can be used for these activities, too. Here are some support pages to supply you with ideas and apps.
- Creating with Online Tools is a categorized list of both Web 2.o and Chrome apps.
- Bloomin’ Apps provides you with some ideas for apps to use at each level of Bloom’s for all platforms.
- Digital Storytelling includes lists of iOS, Android, and Web 2.o tools for planning, producing, and hosting student projects.
- Creating with the iPad includes additional iOS apps for video creation, storyboarding, animated, charting, and much more
Please share your thoughts, resources, ideas, and tips in the comments area!