DOK, or Depth of Knowledge, was created by Dr. Norman Webb (1997) to categorize instructional tasks by their level of cognitive rigor. This model can be used to analyze the alignment between standards, instructional activities, and assessments.
So. . . how can you use DOK?
Last month, all PK-12 EAL and Learning Support teachers participated in a professional learning experience focused on unpacking the Common Core ELA and Mathematics standards. During the session, they were introduced to DOK and shown how to use it to ensure alignment of the cognitive rigor required by the verb used in the standards and the tasks designed to assess it.
DOK can also be helpful when students are struggling with particular knowledge or skills. Let’s say your students are having trouble with this C3 standard: D2.His.13.9-12. Critique the appropriateness of the historical sources used in a secondary interpretation. Critique is a complex verb, requiring students to think abstractly and to provide justification of their choices. In order for them to demonstrate mastery of a DOK Level 3 task like critique, you might need to scaffold some experiences from lower levels of DOK. While DOK levels are not always sequential, DOK 1 and 2 tasks can often serve as building blocking for higher level tasks. For example, before students begin critiquing sources, you might ask them to summarize (DOK 2) each source to ensure they have a basic understanding of the content.
If you’d like to know more about DOK, check out the resources below, or ask your CPL, EAL or Learning Support teacher for assistance.