Depth & Breadth for ELA teachers

by Julie Joyner 4 years, 11 months ago

Joanna talked about depth (the verbs) and breadth (the nouns) in Webinar 2. ELA teachers, what is your interpretation of breadth and how does that affect your lesson selection or student outcomes? 

How many of your districts use DOK vs Bloom's? Please share what you find to be the differences between the two.

STEPHANIE REVIS 4 years, 11 months ago

Hi, Joanna. I'm a middle school ELA/SS teacher. I see "breadth" as how you differentiate your lessons. It could be how you scaffold lessons to meet student needs. It could also be applied to the Content, Product, Process (Tomlinson) ways of differentiating. An easy to explain example would be to use the Product category. Many times in curriculum choices, I will use different Products to teach the same objective based on the needs of my students. So by building those resources, you are building the breadth of your resources. I could be oversimplying it, but I this is how I see breadth - the vast array of resources you build to meet various learning objectives.

Also, my district still refers to Bloom's Revised Taxonomy, but we practice question stems like the ones in DOK. I really like the DOK resource shown to us.

Julie Joyner 4 years, 11 months ago

OK, I totally understand what you’re saying about breadth, but that’s not how I interpreted the meaning during the webinar. I do LOVE your thinking - “the vast array of resources.” However, I was inferring that Joanna meant how widely our lesson covered a standard (those nouns written into the standard). For instance, if it is a grammar standard, is our breadth only covering clauses, or are we covering a wide array of grammar rules? I could be totally wrong. I don’t know what the answer is, but I would love to figure it out so that we could have a common language. 

STEPHANIE WALLACE 4 years, 11 months ago

Hi! My district just began using the DOK with the new standards this year. Each grade 9-12 for each school submitted either an activity or an assessment to Central Office ELA staff. They chose several and sent them back to the schools without identifying information - we met as a department and applied DOK to determine if the activity or assessment truly met the standard. That is where the verbs come in - we have to determine if the student is moving beyond just recognizing or identifying the skill to actually employing the skill. I am 20 years in and have found this very eye-opening and challenging, but rewarding for both me and my students.

Julie Joyner 4 years, 11 months ago

We did the same type of thing: we reviewed our own and then peers’ lesson plans in grade-level PLCs. It’s a great activity!

AMY JAMISON 4 years, 11 months ago

Wow! Truthfully, we do not analyze lessons within the district. I do this on my own while planning. Thank goodness for goopenNC, right?

RENEE MITCHELL 4 years, 11 months ago

WOW is right! We don't do that either. Sounds like maybe we should have been. 

Just think of the extra time we will have to do things like improving lessons and adding more in-depth thinking by students now that we aren't scrambling for ideas all the time.

GAIL HOLMES 4 years, 11 months ago

I see value in including both DOK and Blooms in designing and facilitating learning.  We was the best assessment and definitely want students to be engaged in cognitive thinking.

AMY JAMISON 4 years, 11 months ago

ELA teachers, what is your interpretation of and how does that affect your lesson selection or student outcomes? I think of the song, Deep and Wide. Our curriculum has a wide range of objectives to cover. The depth of which we teach these objectives is at teacher discretion. I look at life skills. Which objectives will be most useful as students progress through their education and then into the workforce. For example, as a manufacturer, employees need to be able to communicate any problems that may occur during a mishap. They have to infer, summarize, synthesize and problem-solve to explain the event and provide a solution. We do not have time to teach with depth for every objective. With big ideas, however, we must take the time to go deep so students can apply these skills in the real world.

How many of your districts use DOK Bloom's? Please share what you find to be the differences between the two. In our district, we use both blooms and DOK. Our tasks measure DOK while our activities are more blooms. Using the 5Es, I pull in blooms for the explore and explain sections. When differentiating tasks for formative assessment, we focus on students' depth of knowledge. 


AMY FOREMAN 4 years, 11 months ago

My interpretation of the breadth is looking at all of those nouns in a standard and looking at them separately as possible lessons, the deconstructing part that was discussed in the webinar. If we don't pull that standard apart and look at all of its components we may be missing an integral part of the standard. ELA standards can cross over so many different areas and can be so complex, we can cover mutliple standards by beginning with one reading standard and building from there into other areas such as writing, speaking, etc. This could also be interpreted as breadth of a standard.  

Our district does not focus on one particular tool for lesson planning, we do this independently. We are expected however to use Bloom's to help develop our lessons and think about DOK as we build them. 

Ben Owens 4 years, 11 months ago

So this is not an ELA resource per se, but it might give a perspective that's helpful... Here's the rubric my former school used for DOK opposite our math standards: We developed similar ones for other subject areas also. These were done using New Hampshire DOK resources as we were moving from standards-based grading to a competency based learning framework. Anyway, not sure it that helps the conversation or not. Thanks! 

BETH SPATARO 4 years, 11 months ago

In ELA breath indicates what students are to look for in the text.  I believe it is hard for teachers to really understand or because of time constraints really focus on the depth of the skills.  Nor do we completely understand how connected the standards are to one another.  ELA standards can not be taught in isolation but combined so students see how the information is interconnected and that they need to use a variety of skills inorder to access the meaning presented in the text.  

Our district has used Blooms for years, but standardized testing is based on DOK.  I prefer DOK over Blooms because it provided a skill that is met by students based on the product.  With Blooms, I feel teachers still focus on lv 1 questioning more than the critical thinking skills based on the verbs used.

LYNN GATTIS 4 years, 11 months ago

Our district does not focus on one particular tool for lesson planning, we do this independently. We are expected however to use Bloom's to help develop our lessons and think about DOK as we build them. For math instruction we use the Learning Focused Lesson Plan.  I like and don't like!    I see DOK as a model to analyze how deep students think to complete activities. Bloom's on the other hand is where learning is based on different levels of rigor and complexity.  We have to remember when we are doing activties or asking questions that we have a level of rigor in our work that is required.  I can't stand when teachers give assignments that it is not rigiorous for the students and you can't get some to change at all!   We have to teach our students to think outside the box!

Julie Joyner 4 years, 11 months ago

Ugh, we are using Learning Focused Lesson Plan and I am not a fan! It's great for planning a unit, but I don't like it at all for lesson planning.

I agree with you about the rigor - I try to keep rigor up with students products in response to whatever they are learning. My students do a lot of written responses and alternative assignments rather than the old teach & test method. :)

VICTORIA WATSON 4 years, 11 months ago

I see the verbs at the process that students use to attain the skills (noun). Analyze the theme, determine tone etc. I tend to fous on breadth and skills but I do make sure that I familiarize students with the depth/verbs beacuse those verbs appear on state testing questions (as well as other ELA acitvities in their future). Students should know the difference between a prompt that asks them to analyze and a prompt that asks them to evaluate etc..

ANGELA BROWN 4 years, 11 months ago

Grade level standards tell us what students should know and be able to do to show mastery/understanding. The verbs (depth) and nouns (breadth) allow teachers to form learning progressions for students, when curriculum mapping in PLC's. For example, a verb, such as "explain," in a standard is a different level of action from a verb, such as "analyze." The Revised Bloom's Taxonomy gives us a resource to measure "cognitive rigor" in learnin and instruction, while Webb's DOK provides a resource for analyzing the level of rigor in an assessment and/or assignment. Using DOK and/or Bloom's in the Hess Cognitive Rigor Matrix, we can see the connections between DOK and Bloom's. I prefer to utilize Hess's resource with the Curricular Examples. 

Miller, K. (2018, January 5). Bloom's Taxonomy and Webb's Depth of Knowledge.




MARINA BONOMO 4 years, 11 months ago

Ours uses Blooms.  I really think they both have a place. Blooms help to structure the lessons and DOK helps to structure assessments.  I am not privy to those PLC sessions to know if they spend a lot of time deconstructing the standards. 

I have always used Blooms. Being in the media center, I usually just use cfu's for my lessons to see if they are ready to move on or we need to revisit a topic. But many of the standards get evaluated with collaborative PBL activities using rubrics. Just not usually soley by me as media spec. 

GAIL HOLMES 4 years, 11 months ago

I am a CTE teacher and according to the webinar, breadth refers to coverin all nouns cited in the standard.  This can allow me to dig dipper into the lesson while engaging students in a variety of activities to assist them in fully understanding the concepts being taught.  Guilford county used Bloom's Taxonomy.  Blooms looks at the objectives, and cognitive rigor while DOK focuses more on assessment.  Blooms focuses more on the instructional framework and DOK focuses on the context for stdents expressing the depth of their learning.

KAREN NEWTON-CLARK 4 years, 11 months ago

As a district, we don't analyze lessons.  Myself and one of my colleagues plan together for ELA and we analyze as we are planning.  Several teachers have suggested we analyze lessons as a district, but we don't even analyze lessons from one middle school to the other.  I use DOKs and Bloom's as I plan my lessons, but that is because I choose to do that.  It's not mandated by our district, that I'm aware of, that we use one or the other.  It's always talked about in Professional Development workshops when speakers come for training, but as a county I've not knows of any sessions where this is widely discussed. When thinking of "breadth" in learning, I think of the whole subject/concept, and "depth" as the focus items that complete that subject/concept.  For example, the "depth" would be levels that I build upon for students to understand the subject/concept.  When planning lessons, I feel we should definitely differentiate with "breadth" and "depth" in mind.