DOK = Critical Thinking

I have really enjoyed chatting with teachers on Twitter lately about DOK (Depth of Knowledge) levels. Part of what I teach in my college class to pre-service teachers is DOK levels. We have been tweeting out our learning objectives and discussing what DOK level it is. Sometimes it is really clear what the DOK level is. Learning Objective: Memorize math facts. DOK is clearly DOK 1. Others are a lot harder to assess. I find it hard to assess DOK levels myself. Talking and debating about it with other educators is super helpful.


Let us start by admitting it is hard to assess the DOK level of a task. How the student interprets the assignment and how much scaffolding you had to do can dramatically change the DOK level. Some kids can complete a task at DOK 2 and others the same assignment at DOK 3. Debating and talking about DOK levels can help us all. Be brave and tweet your task with the hashtag #DOKchat.

Get Away From the Verbs

One thing that makes DOK levels so challenging is looking at the DOK chart with all the verbs on it. The verb does not define the DOK level, the level of critical thinking does. The chart itself shows the same verb in multiple places.
Same Verb

What DOK Level is the Verb “Create”?

DOK 1 = Create a list of the spelling words.

DOK 2 = Create a similar math word problem.

DOK 3 = Create an argument for how the main character grows over the course of the novel.

DOK 4 = Create an original music score in the style of Mozart.

Technology is NOT DOK Levels

It drives me batty to see a mapping of DOK levels with technology, as if the tech creates critical thinkers. You can use Google Slides at DOK 1 or DOK 4. It is simply a platform to display your thinking. Use a Google Hangout to recite your spelling words is DOK 1. Use a Google Hangout to interview a book author can be DOK 2, 3 or 4 depending on the types of questions asked and how the student responds to answers. Is the student engaging in deep critical thinking, extending the conversation or just gathering facts?

Click Here to link to Google Drawing of Chart

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