Depth of Knowledge Activities

Depth of Knowledge activities for any subject

From Prodigy – Written by Marcus Guido

A teacher stands at her whiteboard using one of the depth of knowledge levels to teach.

Level 1 DoK

Despite a question’s simplicity, you can still provide your class with many activities, having them finish a range of products.Depending on the question’s purpose, students can:

  • Paraphrase a passage or chapter of a book
  • Outline and re-iterate the main points of a recent lesson
  • Complete a quiz or series of questions that only requires fact recall or fluency
  • Make a timeline that maps historical or storybook events in relation to each other
  • Deliver a short presentation to classmates that doesn’t require independent research

While focusing on the first Depth of Knowledge level, you can differentiate your instruction by rotating through this blend of exercises.

Level 2 DoK

Requiring deeper thought than recollection and reproduction, there are many activities that stop just short of the third Depth of Knowledge level.Using questions as starting points, your class can:

  • Write blog, diary or journal entries
  • Review texts in pairs or small groups
  • Complete isolated, multi-step calculations
  • Synthesize an explanation of a complex concept
  • Create mind maps that show relationships between topics
  • Design a physical model to demonstrate a scientific concept or historical event

These activities are time-flexible, lending themselves to many kinds of lessons and assignments.

Level 3 DoK

Activities and products associated with the above questions shouldn’t inherently involve long-term research or drawing ideas from different subjects. That would extend into the final Depth of Knowledge level.Keeping this in mind, third-level activities include:

  • Writing an essay
  • Composing venn diagrams
  • Exploring a research question
  • Delivering a persuasive speech
  • Preparing and participating in a debate
  • Completing complex equations related to real-world problems

These may all seem like solo assignments, but some — such as preparing debate points — can involve cooperative learning.Keep this in mind if you feel classroom engagement dwindle due to lack of group work.

Level 4 DoK

Activities that require these longer periods of critical thought lend themselves to high school or older elementary students.But, with a few changes, you can offer similar activities to younger pupils. For example, students can work in small groups to form and test hypotheses under in-class supervision.They can also:

  • Debate on one side of a contentious issue
  • Partner or group with other students to complete a cross-subject research report and presentation
  • Apply lessons from different subjects to pinpoint a problem’s underlying issues, subsequently solving it

As they finish products, you’ll gain clear insight into each student’s distinct thought processes.

Additional Depth of Knowledge questioning strategies to apply in the classroom

A teacher stands at the front of class, pointing to students who have raised their hands to answer Webb's Depth of Knowledge questions.

Referencing question stems and activity lists are useful steps in designing lessons, but there are other helpful strategies for teaching at each Depth of Knowledge level. Consider:

Listing and reviewing activitiesAt week’s end, list each exercise you had your students do. Then, categorize them into the four Depth of Knowledge levels. This lets you reflect on how you structure your lessons, helping you target underrepresented thinking levels in upcoming classes.
Asking “Why?”If you spend too much time on the first level, ask “why?” more. This challenges students to think about the facts and concepts they’re recalling and reproducing. For example, if you’re teaching how to make a slideshow, ask students why they think it is or isn’t a viable supplement to presentations.
Allowing students to influence lesson structureYou know a lesson’s essential questions, but you may not know how each student would best approach them. So, once per week or month as a higher-order thinking activity, allow students to brainstorm the lesson’s hypothetical structure. Take their suggestions to deliver the ideal lesson the next day or week. This is a key element of experiential learning activities.
Switching, freely, between levelsThere’s a common misconception about applying Webb’s theory. That is, students must grow proficient in one level before reaching the next. Such falsehoods are counterproductive. An engaging third-level task can, for example, help students build skills aligned with the first and second levels. Plus, dwelling on a level can dull your class.