Designing Effective Projects : Thinking Skills Frameworks
Marzano's New Taxonomy

In the Classroom with Marzano’s New Taxonomy
Intermediate Phase Example
Lonnie is a Grade 4 learners participating in the project, From Sea to Sea, in which he will look at cities in his region and their importance as commercial and trade centers. Lonnie is motivated almost completely by his emotional response to class activities. He sees little value in typical school-type assignments, but he is a curious boy, and often finds something in the subjects he’s studying to interest him. He is a confident learner with a high opinion of his ability to accomplish assigned tasks even though he doesn’t always complete them.

Lonnie is not a lazy boy, but he often flits from one thing to another without following through on plans. His teacher knows her learners quite well and realizes that she does not need to spend extra time building up Lonnie’s sense of efficacy. She also knows that he will easily pick up the cognitive strategies that he needs in order to complete the project. The areas in which he needs the most help are with his emotional responses and metacognition. Since the project allows for some choices, the teacher will help Lonnie choose a local business that interests him. He is very interested in motorcycles, so she encourages him to do research on that business. She also provides him with checklists of tasks to be accomplished and time for reflecting on his work to develop his metacognitive abilities.

By working with Lonnie to build up his metacognitive skills and providing projects that allow him to pursue his interests, his teacher is creating an environment in which he can think deeply about what he is learning. At the same time she is helping him build skills and strategies that will serve him throughout his life.

Secondary Example
Jessica is working on the project, Play Ball, a project in which learners study the mathematics of baseball. She prefers her humanties classes like English and world history, and she has no interest in baseball whatsoever. She did, however, decide at an early age that she wanted to be a journalist and knows that she wants to go to a college with an excellent journalism programme. Therefore, she sees the work she does in her maths class as important because it helps her achieve her goal of getting into a good college even though it is not particularly interesting to her.

Jessica is a high-achiever, but she is not as good in maths as she is in writing, and so she’s a bit reluctant to get too engaged in the project for fear she will disappoint herself and others. Since her teacher knows this about her, she makes sure that Jessica has the prerequisite skills and knowledge and gives her lots of encouragement. When Jessica’s Self-System has provided her the motivation to learn, her other systems can take charge of her learning process. 

Jessica begins the project by learning the definitions of some basic vocabulary words. As she works through the project, the teacher gives guidelines that support her learning through the different systems. When she is asked to compare different players’ statistics, the teacher models the kinds of matching she needs to do, and when she reaches the point of the project where she chooses an aspect of baseball to research further, the teacher gives her some support in decision making.

To encourage metacognitive thinking, the teacher schedules small-group reflection sessions at critical points in the project and Jessica writes in her journal reflecting on how her work is going. By addressing all the systems as well as the knowledge domain, Jessica’s geometry teacher increases the likelihood that Jessica will develop higher-order thinking skills in mathematics and that she will be able to apply what she has learned in new situations.

Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy.*

Marzano, R. J. (2000). Designing a new taxonomy of educational objectives. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Paris, S.G., Wasik, B.A., & Turner, J.C. (1991). The development of strategic readers. In R. Barr, M. L. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, & P. D. Pearson, (Eds.), Handbook of reading research, vol. 2, (pp. 609-640). New York: Longman.

Schoenfeld, A. (1992). Learning to think mathematically: problem solving, metacognition, and sense making in mathematics. In D. A. Grows (Ed.). Handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning, (pp. 334-370). New York: Macmillan.


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