Differentiated Breakout Rooms: Bloom's & SOLO Taxonomy, Tiered Learning Objectives, Online Learning



FREE Planning Guide for Differentiated Breakout Rooms


Taking your virtual class to the next level! How to incorporate tiered learning objectives in differentiated breakout rooms using student assessments, and Bloom’s & SOLO Taxonomy.


This is the first post of five coming at you about differentiated breakout rooms.


If our virtual engagement strategy is like a blooming flower, then this series is diving for the pollen. We are breaking down some engagement concepts to actually drive and inform our instruction.


Differentiated Breakout Rooms were a huge catalyst for me for my love and passion for virtual learning.


Why? Because I was able to set up a routine of lesson planning & lesson activities, that were personalized for each of my students, and get students to really take charge of their learning by establishing a habit of self-reflection and assessment. All of this sky-rocketed my student engagement levels leading to happy students, happy teachers, happy parents, and happy administrators. Which in return also increased student achievement and mastery of the content in my virtual classroom.


So before jumping into some of the digital and technical aspects of actually creating and running differentiated breakout rooms in your live classes, let’s talk about the concept of this lesson structure: Tiered learning objectives and student self-assessment.



Let’s start by looking at Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom's taxonomy is a set of three hierarchical models that are used in education to identify levels of learning objectives. Right. Students move from lower-levels of thinking like being able to recall, memorize or describe the content, to a middle, more advanced level of thinking where they can maybe compare and contrast or even analyze the content. Then eventually students move to a higher level of thinking, evaluating, criticizing, creating, etc. If you want to go more in-depth than this brief overview, consider checking out this resource on Bloom’s taxonomy.


Bloom’s taxonomy tends to be most useful for teachers. SOLO taxonomy is helpful when we want to get students involved and in charge of their own learning. SOLO taxonomy takes Bloom’s verbs and puts them into relation to one another. For a student, SOLO provides more than just a stagnant location or tier of learning, it provides direction and clarity on what is needed to move to the next level or tier. Let me show you how SOLO create relationships between the levels of learning:


SOLO taxonomy 5 levels of learning and a brief description of what they mean:

  1. Prestructural: This means that students have an incomplete understanding of the content

  2. Unistructural: Students may have a brief understanding of the content - they could explain one aspect

  3. Multistructural: Students may understand the content and be able to explain several relevant attributes.

  4. Relational: Students can understand several attributes and even explain the relationship of it to something else

  5. Extended Abstract: Students have a deep understanding of the content and take and extend it beyond by generalizing, evaluating, etc.

We will take a deeper look at the levels of SOLO in another video in this series. Be sure to subscribe to get notified of this video release. Here are some more resources on SOLO Taxonomy by Pam Hook.


So, how does Bloom’s taxonomy and SOLO taxonomy work together into tiered learning objectives and student self-assessment for differentiated breakout rooms?


So at the foundation of differentiated breakout rooms is tiered learning objectives. Using Bloom’s verbs & SOLO Taxonomy to create a tiered learning objective rubric. Students are able to use this rubric to evaluate themselves on and you, the teacher, are able to create lesson activities that intentionally serve students in various levels of learning.


In the next two videos of this series, I will first walk you through a sample lesson template for creating a differentiated breakout rooms lesson and then dive into an online resource that can help you create specific tiered learning objective rubrics for your lessons.

Then stick around for the final two videos of the series where we will actually do a breakdown and tutorial of how to make these lessons come to life in both a Zoom and Google Meets virtual classroom.



FREE Planning Guide for Differentiated Breakout Rooms




Biggs, J.B., & Collis, K.F. (1982). Evaluating the quality of learning: The SOLO taxonomy. New York: Academic Press.


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