Instructional Strategies, Teaching Tips and Tricks

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

What is DOK in my Classroom?

Depth of Knowledge

In 1997, Norman Webb developed what we know as DOK, or Depth of Knowledge. In 2002, Webb wrote a paper, "Depth of Knowledge for Four Content Areas" outlining how the DOK relate to each content area (Norman L. Webb, University of Wisconsin). By now, with educational emphasis on college and career readiness and the Common Core State Standards, by whatever name they happen to be called in your state - or even country; because, let's face it, the Common Core State Standards are nothing more than a backwards map of what students need to know to be - well - college and career ready.

Below is a comparison between Bloom's New Taxonomy and Webb's DOKs.
Elizabeth Chapin-Pinotti

What's the Same?

Webb's Recall and Reproduction correlate to Bloom's first and second levels - Remembering and Understanding - both requiring the ability of students to recall a fact, information or procedure. Specific verbs would include: arrange, calculate, draw, identify, list, label, illustrate, quote, recognize, recall, recite, state, use, tell who- what- when- where- and why.

Webb's Skill and Concept has students engaging in mental processes beyond using information or conceptual knowledge. Practical application verbs include: apply, categorize, determine cause and effect, classify, collect and display, compare, distinguish, graph, identify patterns, infer, interpret, observe, organize, predict, relate, solve, summarize and use context clues.

Webb's Strategic Thinking requires reasoning, developing plans and sequence of greater complexity of previous levels. Practical application verbs include: appraise, cite evidence, critique, develop a logical argument, differentiate, formulate, hypothesize, investigate and revise.

The top of Webb's pyramid correlates to Bloom's two highest levels and requires complex reasoning, planning and developing. Practical application verbs include: compose, connect, create, critique, defend, design, evaluate, propose, prove, support and synthesize. 


From One Grade to the Next

That said, Webb's Depth of Knowledge Wheel is not Bloom's Taxonomy in a circle. It is much more useful than that - it is a way of developing lessons and activities that scaffold the thinking and learning to help students develop higher cognitive levels of thinking.  Look at one strand of the Common Core State Standards as it expands from Kindergarten to grade 12.

The information from the chart below is taken from the California Department of Education's website regarding the Common Core State Standards and is indicative of the scaffolding between grades that leads to the higher order thinking necessary for college and career readiness:

Elizabeth Chapin-Pinotti

Within One Project

Most of us don't teach three different grade levels, two is not unusual; however, three - is extreme, so how do you use DOKs within one assignment? Let's say you are doing a unit on pandas and you read several non-fiction books and watch a few video clips - first you may have your students recall the different types of pandas as well as to recall where pandas live in captivity and in the wild.

Now that the foundation is set, and you have started your students on the journey towards higher level thinking, you can move from having them recall, or remember, information to the next level by asking them to compare the different types of pandas and/or distinguish between the environments of pandas living in captivity vs. pandas living in the wild.

Moving to the third level of strategic thinking is where students begin to engage in a topic and make it their own; it is also where the baseline knowledge begins to transition into higher cognitive thinking. Here you could ask students to critique each habitat and then site the differences.

Now, for the hard part - extended thinking. Extended thinking moves us beyond lecturing and expecting certain answers to something they must prove is right or wrong. Here you could ask students to use their critiques of each habitat to formulate an hypothesis as to whether living in the wild or living in captivity is best for pandas - of course - being sure to site evidence.

Teaching with the DOKs are Engaging for Teachers Too

Teaching with the DOKs allow us to be creative. Sure, we have the standards we have to teach, but deciding how to scale up to each students' maximum level of cognitive thinking allows us to be creative and use our own set of extended thinking skills. 

Added bonus - DOKs make it easy to differentiate within the classroom while teaching the same subject.

DOK Question Stems to help you build your lessons.


Speaking of Pandas: The Great Panda Rescue - Interactive Fiction/Non-Fiction STEM Reader - Chapter by Chapter.

More information about DOKs and Fun Brain Facts.

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Also, check out my story blog "Story Time by Elizabeth" - free stories, ebooks, presentable books and lessons.
You can find great resources on my Instructional Materials by Elizabeth Chapin-Pinotti Blog. Please take a look.

Elizabeth Chapin-Pinotti

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