Saturday, May 11, 2013

Depth of Knowledge in the Elementary Classroom

A new buzz phrase is out there, and it's called Depth of Knowledge. It's not exactly new, but it's Common Core ready, and I for one welcome this shift in thinking.

The days of the lazy teacher are rapidly coming to a close. Being able to sit back, have your students sift through worksheets or textbooks, and grimly move from year to failing year are no longer going to cut it. The Common Core seeks to deal with that by upping the level of accountability and rigor.

Now, over to the conversation of rigor in the classroom. I'm a firm believer that an education should be hard. Students are not there for self esteem, to feel good about themselves with little to no effort. Students are at school to learn, and learning should be hard. Rigor is one of the keys to a high growth classroom (which I can confidently say I had this year). As many teachers know, one of the most important aspects to a successful education is a strong, above average, demanding teacher. It goes without saying that the opposite of that, a weak, non caring, apathetic, BAD teacher, would have the opposite effect.

Of course, you're not here because you're one of the bad ones. You're here, seeking to learn more, seeking out resources, trying to stretch your own knowledge, because you want to grow as a teacher and demand more of your students.

Just remember, students are capable. If you believe they can do it, they WILL step up to meet that challenge.

With that being said, let's take a look at Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK), and how it fits with what many of us are already aware of (Bloom Taxonomy, see my post on it HERE). DOK does not seek to remove or replace Blooms, but instead seeks to simplify it, to give it a new flavor (this is my opinion).

Depth of Knowledge is built around rigor. Now, the purpose of today's post isn't to define DOK (you could do much better somewhere else), but simply to give a few visuals that help you make sense of it all. My district, like many around the country, is demanding more, more rigor, and more from teachers, and rightly so. DOK and Blooms Taxonomy are great guides, and it's important to have an open mind when approaching new methodologies.

Without further delay, here are a few resources to help you wrap your mind around all of this. None of these works are my own:


  • Webb's Depth of Knowledge Guide: A great pdf book that lays it all out there in somewhat academic language. It's a good starting place if you're new to it.
  • Depth of Knowledge Resources Pinterest Results Page: If you're not on Pinterest, as a teacher, you're missing out big time. There's great stuff here, and for anything you are doing in your classroom.
  • Depth of Knowledge Levels: A one page pdf document that really simplifies the whole thing with some verbs and suggested activities at the four levels. 
  • Blooms to DOK: A great pdf that draws the link from old Blooms to new Blooms to DOK. Must see.

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