Bloom’s Taxonomy

In response to a post re Bloom’s taxonomy:

Oh, I think the taxonomy is a really neat idea. But what lesser minds do with it is the problem.

>Low Level: memorizing the role of Hamlet, or the text of any other lead

>actor in a serious play; memorizing – yes- irregular verbs, principal parts,

>etc.; the Greek gods, the basic stories of mythology; Bible verses; a

>Rhapsode memorizing the epic; etc.

>High Level: synthesis – writing a poem


>I really have no regard at all for Bloom’s taxonomy. When I first saw it, I

>showed it to a friend, a graduate of Yale who is a filmmaker. “Whose

>criteria are these?!?” he shrieked in horror. I trust it is little known

>outside of USA, and probably little known outside California. I do

>understand, from a friend who studied with Bloom, that she was very



My original response to the message below:

Let me just add that Frank Smith quarrels with the notion that somehow the

“lower levels” of Bloom’s are somehow easier. Learning things without

meaning is extremely hard. It appears to me that you, Ginny, are trying to

inject meaning. That makes it easier, actually, even though the level on

Bloom’s might be designated as “higher”.

But then my criticism of fl teaching in general has echoed the Second

Language Acquisition theorists’, i.e. that meaning must infuse all fl


—– Original Message —–

Subject: Re: [Latinteach] Group Translation/developing true reading skills

This thread has interested me, in great measure because I don’t think the

heart of the problem has been identified. (Then again, I haven’t had much

sleep in weeks so who knows what I’m rambling on about.)

I’ve taught middle school (inner city) and at that time read a lot about

teaching this age group.

I hope everyone here is familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy. Some of you may

hate it because it’s been shoved down your throat, but it really does help

to understand where are students go wrong.

Memorizing declension and conjugation endings is just simple rote memory.

It is a low-level skill. Just simple knowledge. Simple recall. However,

when we are translating, we are using high level skills of synthesis and

analysis. So we may have a student who can decline a noun just fine, or go

from singular to plural, nominative to accusative, but can’t make a thing

out of an actual sentence of Latin. I have heard Latin teachers say to

students that, gosh, if they know their endings they *should* be able to

figure out the sentence. Just *apply* the endings.

But it’s not that simple. The brain at that age does not function at those

higher levels naturally. Physical and mental development varies from person

to person at that age, and thus is a tricky age to teach. Anyone who has

taught Latin 1 to seniors knows that they grasp details and how things go

together far more quickly than freshmen.

Parsing, sure, can be done, but I find that it interferes with the flow of

reading. I try to teach my students some different techniques to build

reading skills.

My most used item in my bag of tricks is metaphrasing. A basic metaphrasing

place-holding sentence is “someone verbed something to someone.” Of course,

sentences will vary and this doesn’t cover genitives, for instance, or

prepositional phrases, but it does provide a good place to start and allows

one to analyze the sentence as it develops without resorting to “hunt the


Since you teach from LFA, let me grab a copy and pull a random sentence from

it to apply. Ok. How about this:

p 112. Graeci et Troiani ad Troiam pugnaverunt.

So, I would treat this sentence this way if we were metaphrasing the whole


Graeci: The Greeks verbed something.

Graeci et: The Greeks and someone (parallel construction) verbsed


Graeci et Troiani: The Greeks and Trojans verbed something.

Graeci et Troiani ad: The Greeks and Trojans verbed something to something

(we expect an acc. with AD).

Graeci et Troiani ad Troiam: The Greeks and Trojans verbed something to


Graeci et Troiani ad Troiam pugnaverunt. The Greeks and Trojans fought AT

Troy (making an adjustment to AD to complete the proper structure of the


Ok. Simple enough. Let’s look at another sentence that doesn’t start with

a nominative.

Barbaris praemium novum donabimus.

Barbaris: Someone verbed something to/for the barbarians. (would probably

need a preposition to be ablative, so we can rule that out)

Barbaris praemium: The reward verbed something to/for the barbarians OR

Someone verbed the reward to/for the barbarians. (Discussion of which one

is more likely, and the knowledge that we have to hold both possibilities,

until we have something tell us for sure.)

Barbaris praemium novum: The new reward verbed something to/for the

barbarians (seems more unlikely) OR Someone verbed a new reward to/for the


Barbaris praemium novum donabimus. AH! WE WILL GIVE a new reward to/for

the barbarians.

The joy of metaphrasing is you are providing students a framework to hold

information on, one that works with English word order, without needing to

treat the Latin like an impossible jigsaw puzzle.

I often use metaphrasing for warm-ups. I just throw up a list of words in

different cases and they have to put the English meaning into the right slot

in the metaphrasing sentence.

Of course, we discuss cases and such too. I don’t want you to think we

donít. But grammatical cases and names of functions often do not connect

with MEANING. We need to help build skills that stretch between Bloom’s

knowledge skills to the higher analytical skills.

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