How to Create Adjusted Questions and Tasks

By Taru Nieminen, M.A.T.            December 14, 2016

Carrie is watching me with a somewhat curious eye…I’ve just told the class that today in Science we will be starting a chapter about cells and how they work.

Then there’s Ben, who is yawning. Abby perks up, Rudy almost claps his hands, but then remembers we are now in 6th grade and that would not be cool.

Based on just those reactions, I can tell we will need adjusted questions and tasks. Carrie will need convincing (she’s the most skeptical 6th grader ever!), Ben will need many, many critical thinking activities, Abby will need the support of the teacher and her classmates, and Rudy, well, Rudy will probably have two independent projects done before the chapter is finished.

Yet, when targeting students through adjusted questions, the most important aspect to remember is that each student needs to be held accountable for all the material covered.

Three Levels of Difficulty

With adjusted questions, students might be answering at the basic comprehension and skills level, at the application level, or at the highest level where they can use the information and evaluate at the critical thinking level.

Eventually, you will want all students at the critical thinking level, although it will not necessarily happen with every concept they learn.

Remember, you will have learned each students’ (or group of students) readiness level and/or interests by using pre-assessment strategies.

Creating adjusted questions which cover all the bases is simple using the Bloom’s Taxonomy action verbs. The first two columns (knowledge and understanding) are at the basic comprehension level, the next two (apply and analyze) at the application level, and finally (evaluate and create) cover the critical thinking level.

Creating Adjusted Questions

So, how to exactly create the questions, you ask. Look at the Bloom’s Taxonomy chart (and of course you can use one of the more colorful, round, triangle-shaped ones; I used the simplest and easiest to explain here J).

Let’s prepare two questions for the comprehension level. Choose one verb from each column of knowledge and understanding. I’ve chosen identify and explain respectively. We’ll use the science lesson about cells to generate the questions for each level.

  1. Identify the four main parts of a cell.
  2. Explain what each of the main parts of a cell do.

Now for the application level. Let’s look at verbs sketch and illustrate.

  1. Sketch the main parts of the cell.
  2. Illustrate one of the main parts in detail.

Lastly, critical thinking, to which each student needs to strive for. We’ll use the verbs compare and organize.

  1. Compare animal and plant cells by defining the differences.
  2. Organize the identifying characteristics of cell functions.

Note that although each level has different questions or tasks, each of them asks the student essentially the same. I prefer the task oriented “questions” for this particular lesson. But here are the same in question format:

Comprehension: 1. What are the four main parts of a cell? 2. What do the four main parts of a cell do?

Application: 1. What are the four main parts of a cell? Sketch them. 2. What do the main parts of a cell do? Illustrate one in detail.

Critical Thinking: 1. How are animal and plant cells different? Define differences. 2. What identifying elements do cells have? Organize them into a table.

Adjusted Questions and Tasks Summary

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy levels and verbs lets you easily create the adjusted questions and tasks you need to differentiate. Here’s a short recap of the levels and how they relate to adjusted questions:

  • In the KNOWLEDGE level, students recall information.
  • On the UNDERSTAND level, students organize facts and ideas.
  • The APPLICATION level lets students use the facts and principles to start producing ideas.
  • Within the ANALYSIS level, students can categorize different components and parts.
  • When the EVALUATION level is reached, students can combine facts and ideas to form new concepts.
  • And finally, the level where students CREATE – develop their opinions, decide and (dis)agree, and formulate their judgments about an idea.




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