iPad Apps and Blooms Taxonomy

The following is an adaptation of the Padagogy Wheel developed by Allan Carrington of the University of Adelaide which was in turn built upon the work of Sharon Artley.

Many others have adapted this idea to suit the applications being used by their students on iPads. I recently received a version created by Unley High School and decided to create a set of posters for PBAS linking Blooms Taxonomy and our iPad apps (posters are up in the staffroom).

It is not my intention to spend any time in the immediate future looking a these posters and discussing in detail how we as a staff can move student learning forward using Blooms and the iPads (unfortunately we have too much else going on). I am however hoping that these posters may generate some ideas amongst teachers and be used as a resource:

  • When you use the iPads does this use fall into one or two areas only?
  • Can you create a single task using the iPad that allow students to work within different levels in Blooms depending on ability?
  • How could you use the iPads to move students into the higher order thinking skills of analyse, evaluate and create?

All the apps listed below are on our iPads. There are a couple that have been added since which fall nicely into the apply, evaluate and create categories of Blooms these include Daisy the Dinosaur and Kodable both coding/programming apps.

Click here to see a range of posts on various iPad apps (listed on the posters) and how they might be applied in the classroom.











How important is questioning?

Questioning plays an important part in how our students respond to us. If we get our questioning right we may elicit responses from a wide variety of students with detailed answers, get it wrong and we can be met with blank stares and silence.

To help understand the powerful impact our phrasing of questions can have watch this great video sourced from Twitter (retweeted by @Towny47).

So what is good questioning and what makes a good questioning environment (this is not an exhaustive list)?

  • Selecting the appropriate question type (open, closed or multiple choice) depending on what you are seeking from the student. Open inquiry questions will elicit deeper thinking.
  • Use a scaffold (like Blooms) to develop a range of question starters that allow students of different abilities entry points into a concept.
  • Use wait time. Give students the chance to think. Let students know they have time to think. Research suggests 3-5 seconds before any speaks leads to students answering better (we need to put up with the awkward silence).
  • Not all questions have one right answer (respecting student answers and the thinking behind them).
  • Follow up questions that allow students to think deeper about their original answers.
  • Have a system of questioning that allows for the random selection of students i.e. names on popsticks.
  • Have class norms that develop a culture of “its ok to answer questions”.


How Can Quality Questioning Transform Classrooms? Questioning to Advance Thinking, Learning, and Achievement

The skill of questioning

Engaging students through effective questions





Minecraft in the classroom

Minecraft is a down loadable game from the Internet that costs around $40 for one license for a PC, there is a free iPad app (very basic, can’t save but good for learning on) or a $7.49 app for iPad (Phoebe assures me it is not as good as the online version but not bad).

What is Minecraft? Wikipedia explains Minecraft as an open world game that has no specific goals for the player to accomplish, allowing players a large amount of freedom in choosing how to play the game. The game world is essentially composed of rough 3D objects—mainly cubes—that are arranged in a fixed grid pattern and represent different materials, such as dirt, stone, various ores, water, and tree trunks. Players can gather these material blocks and place them elsewhere, thus allowing for various constructions. The game primarily consists of two game modes: survival and creative. Unlike in survival mode, in creative mode, players have access to unlimited blocks, regenerate health when damaged, and can fly freely around the world.

I’ve actually never played Minecraft but we do have an account that Phoebe and Lucy use. The more I watch the girls build and create worlds the more potential I see for use with students. Without any personal experience using the game my first thought is to use it to engage students to design and build historical locations, buildings, statues and artifacts. It would be a brilliant tool for this purpose. Click here to visit a teachers example of how he used it in an Ancient Greece unit (see photos of the student’s structures). Another use could be to design scale models. As everything in Minecraft is built with blocks students could convert measurements into blocks and replicate an object i.e. a building (Phoebe worked out to scale the height, width, lengths of arms and legs etc of one of her dolls in blocks to recreate it in minecraft).

If you where looking to engage students in learning I think this would be an ideal tool. Of course their are many blockers to using something like Minecraft to engage students and the list probably looks something like this:

  • It costs money.
  • I don’t know how to use it.
  • It will be too much extra work to organise it.
  • I don’t have time to learn something new at the moment.
  • It looks great but it is not for me.
  • and so on …..

But also consider:

  • There will be a child in your class who can show others how to use Minecraft (give students leadership). Jump in and learn as you go, you don’t have to know everything before you start.
  • It is a way to differentiate the curriculum and make it accessible to students who find watching a video or creating a poster dead boring.
  • It allows for higher order thinking skills to be used including Analyse – investigate, examine, Evaluate – decide, justify, Create – construct, design, invent

With the potential to save multiple worlds on one iPad ($7.49 app) it may be an engaging tool for teachers to use in the near future at PBAS.

Below I have added some video and images of creations built using Minecraft.

The video below is of a students work. He had to design a structure from medieval times and decided to do it in Minecraft instead of building a traditional project.

Here are some images of things people have created using Minecraft. It is amazing what you can build out of blocks!

Using TV Shows, Movies and Objects to explain Blooms. Are they useful?

Ed told me about some video explanations of Blooms Taxonomy using Seinfield, Pirates of the Caribbean and a guy talking about a drum. I have also been able to find 3 more including Nemo, The Andy Griffiths Show and using an iPhone. The videos vary between the old Blooms Taxonomy and the new Revised Blooms Taxonomy. My personal favourites are The Andy Griffiths Show, Nemo (simple easier to understand explanation) and Seinfield.


The Drum Explanation

Pirates of the Caribbean


Andy Griffiths Show


Blooms Taxonomy – The Differentiator

I have written about this resource before and there are links to this tool on the Pedagogy page. I’m re posting information about this tool as the creators have rebuilt it trying to make a better version. The Differentiator is a tool that allows you to generate a task by dropping in Thinking Skills (Blooms), Content, Resource Type, what the final Product will be, and Group Size. This is all the tool does and it is fairly simple to use once you have had a play with it. What I think is good about The Differentiator is the fact that as you design a task it gives you a wide variety of options under the headings I have mentioned. This may spark some ideas that you would normally think off when designing tasks. We all have our favourite modes of presentation or resources etc  for students to use and for the benefit of student learning we should try to use a wider variety of task types, presentation modes, levels of Blooms etc.

An idea that I had to help differentiate your curriculum was to use this tool to generate tasks at varying levels of difficulty on the same topic i.e Year 9 History (Vikings – social structures). Use the tool to create a task at the lower end of Blooms, a task in the middle and one at the top as a way of engaging more students in the work.


Click here to try out The Differentiator