Levels guides are an amazing tool to use in the classroom! If you are struggling to engage your students and want to push them towards higher level thinking (more than basic knowledge), levels guides are the solution. Using Bloom’s taxonomy as the foundation, a levels guide helps students move passed a basic understanding of the text. The students are guided through each of the three levels, with each level more challenging than the last. As part of the process, students are required to cite evidence in support of their positions. This is an activity that requires a lot of modeling at the onset, but the rewards reaped are tremendous.
I used this activity during an observation recently, and my principal (who has been pushing the staff to use higher level thinking activities more frequently with our students) was blown away. I too am blown away each time I use a levels guide, as the students’ responses, and evidenced used in support of those responses, often exceeds my expectations.
The following levels guide is for the play “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare. It is to be used after the students finish reading Act IV. An answer key is not included, because I don’t use one. If the students’ responses make sense, and they can support them, they receive credit. Out of all of the levels guides I have created and used, this one is the most challenging.
•I find it helpful to write the instructions on the board or put them up on a document camera.
•The first time students complete a levels guide, I always model how to respond to a statement with them, usually one per section.
•I find students learn best from each other, so I have them share their choices when everyone is finished. I usually have several students share for each statement.
•I remind students that, as long as they can support their choice with evidence from the text and personal experience (applied level only), there are no “right” or “wrong” answers at the interpretive and applied levels. Only the literal level has “right” and “wrong” answers.