Use Bloom Balls Like a Boss!


   
     Teachers are always looking for activities that meet specific curriculum requirements, integrate two or more  subjects, if possible, can be differentiated, promote higher-level thinking, and hey – it’s great if they’re fun, too! My awesome student teacher introduced me to Bloom Balls.


     If you’ve never tried Bloom Balls, it’s time you did. A Bloom Ball is a project during which students complete activities that take them through all the levels of Bloom's Taxonomy, from knowledge to synthesis. Bloom Balls can be used in any subject area and work beautifully with a rubric. They are great independent work and promote collaboration if students work in pairs or small groups – and certainly when putting them together!  By their very nature, Bloom Balls incorporate art with whatever subject matter you are covering. They make a tremendously attractive splash when completed and displayed.


     The basic unit of the Bloom Ball is a pentagon inside a circle. Each Bloom Ball will need 12 of these. The content activities go on the pentagon. When cut out, the circle creates little tabs that are folded up and stapled or glued. 
     To prepare for the project, you’ll need to have twelve (one for each pentagon) activities or tasks for students to complete. Very simple tasks for younger children might be to draw or cut and glue a directed picture with a sentence. A science task might be to define and diagram terms and concepts for a Forces and Motion unit. Novel studies are great places for Bloom Balls – students can answer questions, make summaries, draw conclusions, and illustrate their perception of a class novel. Imagine how attractive biographies would be when transferred to a Bloom Ball.


Preparation



     Using Bloom’s Taxonomy (preferably revised), map out the tasks , twelve total, that you want students to complete. Try to make a healthy mix, focusing on what your students can successfully accomplish, what they enjoy, and where you want them to end up. The over-arching goal would be to have students perform at the higher-levels of the taxonomy, but you have the freedom to choose based on your students.

     Prepare a document, Smart Board presentation, or other way to share the tasks with students. I suggest you also provide a rubric to help lead students through the project. It will help them learn the most possible, create a better product, and of course, earn a better grade.

     I strongly recommend that you make this an in-class project instead of at-home, though you will know best about your students. Especially for the first project, teacher guidance is needed.


     Form your groups. We put students in pairs for the best balance.

     Make 12 copies of the pentagon per group. 

     Once you have your tasks, introduce your students to the project and rubric. Point out that they have a defined space in which to work. Doing a rough draft on other paper is a good idea before transferring onto expensive copies. Interesting note: The tabs that will be glued/stapled are also excellent places for little “extras”. My students enjoyed adding an extra word or definition, a tiny sketch, or just coloring the tabs.


     Develop a schedule for the completion of the entire project, then show students how to pace it out. We often  completed one pentagon per day, focusing on our prior learning. 


     As students complete their pentagons, make sure they put their names on the sheet, outside the circle. Have them keep the sheets together, uncut, until time to put them together. Have students compare their work to the rubric and make necessary adjustments.


     When all pentagons are complete, it’s time to construct your Bloom Ball.

Constructing 


Instruct students to carefully cut out each circle. They should write their names on the back of each circle. 

Have students fold each of the flaps UP. It is important that they go slowly and carefully here, making sharp creases. They should have 12 shapes, like little “mini-trays”, that look like this:
When you have all twelve circles cut, creased, and folded, separate them into two stacks. The order generally does not matter – we’re making a sphere – but you can decide that.

     Each group of six circles will make half of the sphere. Take one circle and place it down on the table, picture side up. This is the center. Lay the remaining five circles around this center. You’ll see that the tabs of the five outer circles match the tabs of the center circle. I told my students, “The guy in the center is high-fiving his five friends.” Carefully staple these tabs together. 

Now, the outer five guys are going to high-five each other. Staple these tabs together. You now have a bowl-shape, or half circle, or hemi-sphere. You can even wear it on your head!

Follow the same procedure for the other six circles. 

When you have both bowls complete, you’ll see where the tabs of each one meet. Staple these together. You’re done!
     There are many sources of Bloom Ball templates and projects for different subjects on Teachers Pay Teachers, some free, some paid. Challenge yourself to do this project with your class. I'd love to know how it works for you!

Pat McFadyen
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