Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stop writing the objectives on the board

How often have you been told that writing the lesson's objectives on the board is best practice? Can you think of even one reason why doing this might be a bad idea? Because the prevailing wind of conventional wisdom consistently blows in favor of content-bloated, prefabricated externally mandated standardized standards, it takes courage to pause and reflect.

Mike Fishback offers this post titled Objectively Speaking where he identifies three reasons why we should question the wisdom behind writing the lesson's objective on the board.


  1. Communicating objectives to students sends a strong message about who is driving the learning.
  2. Communicating objectives to students gives away the ending before the uncovering even begins.
  3. Communicating objectives to students discourages students and teachers from pursuing potentially constructive lines of inquiry that appear tangential to the objectives.


I often share this clip of Alfie Kohn telling a story of a grade one class discovering the need for standardized measurement.

Watch this clip and think about what affect writing the objective on the board would have had on student learning.



I think we can all agree that writing the objective on the board might have ruined this experience in some way for some of the kids. When I hear that teachers are mandated to write the objectives on the board and are subject to being evaluated based on their compliance, I become concerned.

At the very least, teachers should be afforded the professional responsibility to decide whether writing the objective on the board is pedagogically appropriate.

57 comments:

  1. Nice points Joe - I think there are a couple reasons for why this may be done, though neither of them are particularly good.

    In the sad context of comparing one teacher's professionalism to another, when one teacher chooses to have a written objective and another does not, administrators can look and easily evaluate one as being better than the other. The written objective is often nothing more than something that looks good in the classroom but is not actually used to enhance learning, such as a word wall that is never touched by teachers or students, or an interactive white board used as a projection screen. It is often sold as one of those things that the "research" (oft without citation) says "might not help, but it doesn't hurt", so why not include it if it just might help? I have seen teachers refer to the objective as a tool during the lesson to help focus discussion or discovery, but that is generally an exception, not the rule.

    At one of my old schools, the principal would insist on written objectives in every classroom because he believed that it was the uniformity in classroom that routine that helped the school function effectively. While I don't totally disagree that the consistency and structure helped , it sometimes resulted in some artificial and arbitrary steps teachers were required to take during formal observations. Not only were teachers expected to write up objectives, but also to elicit these objectives (aims) from students. While students were often polled to suggest possible objectives based on warm-up or introductory activities, I don't think it gives students enough credit to suggest that they felt "ownership" of the lesson because the objective came from them, especially when the teacher made no secret of the fact that the objective was written in the lesson plan.

    A few years later at a new school that does not require it, I do find myself still writing objectives and agendas on the board. The agendas are generally for me to keep track of the pace of the activities I usually arrange for lessons, but I do tend to use quirky titles that sometimes prompt students to wonder how they relate to what we are doing in the activities leading up to them. Again, these are generally for me though. Some students like writing the objectives in their notes as organizational tools, which I can understand. Still, there are some days when I don't put one up because I don't know exactly how much we will figure out over the course of the period. I really value the freedom I currently have because I remember what it was like to not have it, and because I know that many don't have that freedom at all.

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    1. You make an interesting point about how the objectives are more for administrators and not the actual learning. The only reason why I write 'objectives' on the board is because of the off chance there might be a walk through. And because of a walk through or some odd observation, I am now required to have the students repeat & write the objectives in their notebooks. This can make notebook organization helpful. But it certainly takes away from my constructivist tendencies as well as the joy & ownership of learning for my students.

      Your comment about the students being quizzed about the objectives, rings true as well. You are deemed a good teacher if the students know what it is you are teaching. Well, let's be honest...We are never teaching just one thing at a time. Learning and knowledge is so multi-layered that it is impossible to truly teach just one thing.

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  2. Hey Joe,

    One of the 6 Big Ideas of AFL (based on Dylan Wiliam's work) is to set clear learning intentions WITH the students. Criteria and descriptive feedback is then based upon these LI's.

    I have found that making these learning intentions visible has helped many of my students to have a clear understanding of the "why" of the learning activity (and also helped them with peer and self assessment).

    So what do you think? Are learning intentions different than objectives (maybe one developed WITH rather than given TO)?

    Somebody once told me: assessment without learning intentions is like golfing without a flagstick.

    What are your thoughts on this?

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    1. Joe and Chris,
      Funny that you should mention Dylan William, Chris, as he was exactly who popped into my mind when I read this post! (I'm a HUGE fan!)

      I believe wholeheartedly in the WALT/WILF format of AFL developed by Shirley Clarke (colleague of Dylan) and belive that there is CONSIDERABLE difference between a learning objective written by the teacher and a learning intention that is written for students with criteria WITH students. When created and aligned properly it's like finally giving the students the compass they didn't know they needed.

      In addition to the way the learning intentions are written, they are also to be presented when the teacher feels it is most appropriate. This means that a teacher can do an introductory tuning-in type of lesson to develop inquiry and curiosity BEFORE writing the learning intention and then placing it on the board once the students are engaged and heading in the right direction.

      Do you see a difference between learning objectives and learning intentions that is more than semantic?

      Looking forward to your thoughts!

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  3. Joe- As a principal, I can't argue with your reasoning. And I love the clip with Alfie. However, in my visits to classrooms I often ask students "What are you learning today?" More often than not, students don't have any idea what they are learning or the essential concept they are trying to master. Having an objective posted helps communicate to students the learning target.

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    1. Maybe they DON'T know...yet. Do you want an authentic answer or do you just want them to regurgitate what is written down for them?

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  4. I have an issue with #2 - "Communicating objectives to students gives away the ending before the uncovering even begins."
    Education is not a mystery novel. There is no reason to hide an end result or destination from the students.

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  5. Sorry to disagree Ed but as a History teacher I often like to hide the ending and allow the process of inquiry and discovery to be the driving force in my lessons.

    I would agree with Nathan that it is helpful to have some sort of objective even if it is a single concept or a key word which everyone should understand by the end of the lesson however a good plenary is probably more important than a good learning intention as the plenary will point the way forward.

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  6. Joe - LOVED your post today. It really had me thinking since we've been specifically asked this year to post our objectives. I'm torn on this. I see what the district is saying - but I also clearly see your point. I blogged about your post and Alfie Kohn's video:

    http://www.gbjeff.blogspot.com/

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  7. @Nathan

    I wonder if that's because the students are interpreting your question as "What are you *supposed to be* learning today?" What I mean is: are you checking to see if they know the learning objective, or are you asking what they're learning?

    Is it, "I know what students are supposed to be learning. Do they know it to?" Or is it, "I wonder what the students are learning today"?

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    1. Great point! I often see this during a walk through when there's a glance to the board to see the objective & then the student notebook & then whether the student answered correctly. The other thing I noticed is that if an admin does not understand constructivism they often do not understand how inquiry works nor how an activity will help kiddos construct knowledge. Thus deeming the lesson/activity worthless & not meeting the objective.

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  8. I was a student who could not wrap my mind around algebra. I needed those objectives on the board because it was very important for me to know what we were doing and why we were doing it. Those objectives helped me think of math in a more language based way, I suppose. The teachers who did that, were my absolute favorites.

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  9. I agree with this, Joe. I guess exceptions could be made for very targeted skill teaching but I would wonder, why bother. Just tell the children what the skill is. As for real learning, how can a teacher possibly know what every single child will take take from the learning experience? Defining the outcomes just narrows down the learning and in fact is another tool in the standardization process.

    I particularly dislike WALT (We Are Learning To) unless skill related. Maybe WALA (We Are Learning About) would be appropriate but again why bother writing it down?

    The other current favorite in New Zealand is the Learning Outcomes & Success Criteria model. The use of succcess criteria, unless carefully worded to be open ended, again serves to narrow down learning to the approved outcomes.

    I guess the whole issue comes down to the debate over what is learning and why do children need to learn 'this' instead of 'that' or instead of 'learning whatever they want to learn" and so on.

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  10. Another vote for Ed's point of view; as a lifelong learner, I typically want to know the "why behind the what" before I am willing to commit to the work of learning something. I agree that the verbatim writing of standards on the board is meaningless unless students understand the objective. I once observed a teacher who used this as his lesson launch. He had students discuss the standard and be ready to express the objective in their own words.

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    1. Why not ask? Kids who want to know "why are we learning this" are usually the first ones who figure out the answer.

      I was lucky enough to go to school at a time when this nonsense was not the rule - and I usually had to figure out how this little chunk of learning mattered. Sometimes it didn't, but the best teachers shared their love of the subject (it was fun to them), not rationalizations on why we needed to know this set of facts.

      Recently, we had a consultant at my site that showed us how to make sure the kids knew the objective. The class she slowed down was the most confused - maybe they're just used to me saying, "Here's the plan for the day," and being able ot ask why as opposed to being told "You will learn ___ by doing ____." Or they trusted me to make it relevant without relying on "The standards say you have to learn ____."


      Way to go, Joe. I'm following you from now on:)

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  11. What about process objectives? I.e. today we focus on problem solving, reasoning, and problem posing, starting with an unfamiliar problem.

    I've found objectives like these very useful for helping college students who have always been spoon fed math. They adapt better when they think I have a plan, rather than thinking I am refusing to "teach."

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  12. I work at a school where posted objectives are mandated. I, being the non-conformist, usually post a joke of some sort (that hints at the topic of the day). This rankles the admin, but the kids actually look at the board each day.

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  14. @dborkovitz - I was thinking along the same lines with process objectives when I wrote this: http://edtechsteve.blogspot.com/2011/03/instead-of-content-objectives-how-about.html

    I think it could be a powerful shift. A lot more work, but powerful work.

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  15. another good one, Joe.
    Off the top of my head there is a 4th reason it is bad educational practice (and of course it is implied by the other 3): i.e. if the objective states what the students will "know" (and it usually does) it makes everyone think that this knowledge somehow advances us. As Kathryn Schulz says, a lot of knowledge makes us stupider.

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  16. I think that we cannot just have students learn withour any idea of where they are going. Including students in the process is key. Objectives that are only from the teachers and are just copied from the curriculum (rather than in student-friendly terms) will cause some concern.

    As a coach I would never avoid making the goals clear; as a teacher I would never avoid making the learning intentions clear.

    Workshops, staff meetings, conferences, or other learning opportunities without an idea of where we are heading makes it difficult for the learner/educator. The learning intentions in any learning environment should not be overly prescriptive but targets that give the child an idea of what the focus on the learning activity is, in my opinion, is crucial. Being too prescroptive risks placing a cap on students'; creativity and development.... not discussing intentions makes learning like driving in an unknown area without a map.

    In addition, another big idea of AFL is self and peer assesssment - how are students suppose assess themselves if they do not have a clear understanding of what they are supposed to be learning?

    If you have not read Dylan Wiliam's article on "Working Inside the Black Box", it is a must-read as his work has changed the way many educators view assessment

    http://datause.cse.ucla.edu/DOCS/pb_wor_2004.pdf

    "Students can achieve a learning goal only if they understand that goal and can assess what they need to do to reach it." Dylan Wiliam

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  17. There is often a disconnect between the intended outcomes of a policy and the actual outcomes. Policies that are disseminated without discussion, review, and critical thinking devolve quickly into rote actions. "Just tell me what to do" becomes the mantra rather than doing something because it makes sense or because a group decides that this is going to be effective practice.

    Blindly copying "learning objectives" on a board doesn't impact learning, even if if makes a few students feel more comfortable. Not writing learning objectives is not a guarantee of anything either.

    The process of coming up with learning objectives has to be active and ongoing. Teachers need to talk to each other about what that means and why "we" do it. And students should be involved in setting learning objectives too. Why shouldn't student ideas and "I wonders" become part of the learning objectives. The only reason is that we seem to believe that kids being part of their own learning process is a waste of time, when in fact, it's just the opposite.

    "Understanding" learning objectives doesn't simply mean seeing them written down. By taking that shortcut, "understanding" devolves to "being exposed to the words" and then we complain that it doesn't make an impact.

    I'm not saying we just let the kids do whatever they want - but there can be a middle ground between teachers copying down meaningless objectives that no one really cares about, and having chaos in the classroom. And that middle ground can only be filled with teachers who collaborate with peers and use practices that they own and believe in rather than simply succumbing to top-down management tricks.

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  18. Learning objectives are pretty useful. Obviously you shouldn't be forced into sharing your objective at the start of the lesson if you've got a good reason for not doing so. But maybe part of the problem comes from the lack of creativity with which objectives are often shared. Here are 50 different ideas on how to introduce your objective: http://learningspy.co.uk/?p=526

    Have fun

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  19. This reminds me of a story my Learning Theory professor told last fall. She observed, in the middle of the last century, Russian math teachers with very young students as they set up a similar scenario. To introduce themselves to the idea of units of standard measurement, students had to determine "how big" something in the classroom was.
    I love Alfie Kohn; thanks for posting this.

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  20. Respectfully, I disagree, Joe - especially on points one and two. What students are about to learn should never be a mystery. Why the big secret? Kids should know what they are expected to walk away with.

    As for number three, however - I can see your point here. I think oftentimes the objective of the class can become so domineering that students no longer have any ability to muck around and get dirty with the learning...and to make sense of the learning and concepts themselves.

    I believe it must be a marriage of the two - students should know what they are expected to know, understand and be able to do by the end of the class, but should be allowed the flexibility to make meaning for themselves so it sticks.

    Thanks for bringing up an interesting point!

    - Steve
    @sguditus

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  21. Things that are truly learned are best remembered through the "mystery" approach.

    Using the "write the objective on the board at the beginning" may not hinder the learning of the objective, but it does hinder the use of personal observation, inquiry, reflection, and need for engagement.

    I wonder if the objective on the board is something better suited for younger children, and removed as children get older. In middle school, my only frame of reference, revealing objectives a priori is a disaster in the classroom. It eliminates creativity of thought, inquiry, and discovery of serious issues in my Social Studies class. The practice of writing the objective on the board is a "best practice" of the SIOP model for ELLs. I stopped using it after one week, because it took the fun out of learning for my students.

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  22. I think that having learning goals and success criteria are important to help students have an idea of where they need to go, but they should be open ended and co-constructer rather than given to the students. I give a variety of exemplars to the class and ask them to tell me what made them strong and what made them weak. Based on that we develop success criteria (we are looking for...) together.

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  23. What I have found effective is to write it as a question that students will be able to answer by the end of the day.

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  24. It's important to keep in mind that posting the objective can be an invaluable tool for students with learning disabilities who need 1) more structure, and 2) for expectations to be stated explicitly. Having that constant reminder on the board can help keep students with special needs - and in fact, any struggling student - on track.

    In addition, teachers can use this as a teachable moment by explaining to their students that objectives and agendas are goals that we strive to reach during the lesson because of curricular standards, but which we can negotiate based on student needs throughout the day. This can lead to critical discussions about what the curriculum is, who decides what's in it, and why that stuff is important.

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  25. In regard to many of the comments:
    Surely the important thing in such circumstances is variety and flexibility NOT totalising absolutism – from either camp. It would be ridiculous to think that LO’s or ILO’s (Intended Learning Outcomes) have no value – there is plenty of evidence to show that they aid learning. The problem comes when they are seen as a immutable solution to the goal of learning. Emergent learning outcomes also need to be given room to develop and there also needs to be opportunities for students to experience the powerful pleasure of discovery. The example Kohn gives is clearly of this latter type but on its own this approach would be no solution. These kids had previously been learning about the Mayflower “on an ongoing basis”. It seems unlikely that this was done by the discovery method alone. If you’re using the discovery method then yes absolutely it makes no sense whatsoever to reveal the discovery beforehand but there are many instances where effective learning can proceed without the discovery method and can facilitate rapid learning that then allows students to grapple with more sophisticated and challenging tasks. It’s the teacher’s skill surely to be able to sensitively judge when students will benefit most from instruction (with the aid of a map: LO’s) and when the value of discovery is more pedagogically appropriate.
    “teachers should be afforded the professional responsibility to decide whether writing the objective on the board is pedagogically appropriate.” -Joe

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  26. Learning happens naturally when children are engaged in a rich problem solving situation. Reggio Emilia begins this process with children 0-6 years of age. When engaged in rich problems, the teacher can witness deep learning occurring. It is an amazing experience to be that teacher.

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    1. Reminds you of "Shoe and Meter" doesn't it.

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  27. “Simply said, when students understand the purpose of a lesson, they learn more”

    (Fraser, Walberg, Welch, & Hattie, 1987; Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001 in Fisher & Frey, 2010, p. 1)

    It has been stirring for a while. At first I didn’t even notice him. He kept coming around more often so I could not ignore him. I checked him out and had zero interest. He seemed too straight-laced for me. Annoying even. People were talking about him. I watched. I studied. He seemed pushy but, to my surprise, he started making sense to me. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I couldn’t get him out of my mind. I’ll admit it - I’m obsessed.

    I have been known lately for telling my university students - inservice teachers- “You have to fall in love with your objectives.” Yes, you read that right, fall in love with your objectives! When you think about them, swoon about them. Consider putting them in a safe deposit box. If you really think about what you want students to learn, then you ought to really care and love what you hope they will learn! Too often, I visit classrooms where well-meaning educators have mandated that teachers write objectives on the board for each lesson. Teachers are reprimanded if the objectives are not there. Many teachers live in fear of objectives and seem to be posting them because they have to not because they have carefully thought about what they hope students to get out of the lesson they are teaching. (I know, I know, there’s no time to do that! I suggest starting small with one subject area and building a library of objectives. With practice objective-writing becomes easier and quicker!) If you really think about it, no matter your style or philosophy, a big part of teaching are those chunks of the day where you are hoping to impart something to students, that they walk away more able to make decisions, understand the world and impact it in different ways. From writing an essay and publishing it as a letter to the editor about a deeply held belief to being able to add coins accurately or keep track of money in a checkbook - teaching does have intentional outcomes, no matter how narrow or broad. Does writing objectives keep us from teachable moments when a butterfly flies into a classroom lands on a student’s palm or when a lesson on acids and bases turns into a discussion about police brutality? No. I argue with thoughtful and well-loved objectives, teachers and students will be more able articulate what they want to teach and learn, what they taught and learned, reducing less fruitful lessons and making space for more teachable moments, and ultimately, a freer education!

    The love affair is full-blown now. We are dating. At first, he seemed inflexible and overly rational, but I see that he can be anything I hoped for...This is why I have fallen for objectives.

    * They help the teacher to think about what they really want the students to get out of the lesson.
    * They keep the teacher’s focus on the key content.
    * They remind the teacher to (re) focus on the purpose(s) of the lesson during the lesson.
    * They show students that you have a goal and a purpose for the work that you are directing them to do.
    * They give the teacher a way to measure what students have learned or understood so they can re-teach as needed.
    * They give students a way to self-evaluate their progress immediately.
    * They respect students as responsible for their learning and not-learning, lesson by lesson.
    * They respect teachers as knowledgeable and responsible for knowing what they are teaching students lesson-by-lesson.
    * Once you write them, you can use them as a guide to decide what materials, activities, strategies, and how much time you should use for the lesson itself!
    * They can make you feel more effective and more satisfied as a teacher.


    Fall in love!

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  28. Agree with Dr Trivia Gallagher-Geurtsen, but also with Barbara: in my department, LOs are expressed as Key Questions (and preferably trying to use Bloom's Taxonomy as a guide ) so that the pupils can try to answer it by the end of the lesson. Their answers might vary; there are various and equally valid responses to: 'To what extent....?' or 'In what ways could...?' or even 'How...?' - so there is room for creative thinking.
    Our difficulty is the focus by UK OFSTED inspectors who grade our lessons ny measuring pupils' progress (an 'Outstanding' lesson must have Outstanding' learning DEMONSTRATED by a majority of learners - yes, it's a whole other argument!)
    So writing a KQ which includes creative/varied answers which also show measurable proof of progress is a skill we are learning to embrace. One obvious way to do it is to have the discussion with the class - how will we try to answer this question? What kind of skills and methods would be best? They can have some ownership there. Also, you don't need to reveal the KQ at first, as an engaging starter activity can capture their imagination, and a KQ could be devised together. Students in our school have become very good at discussing the How as well as the What of the learning business.

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  29. Agree with Dr Trivia Gallagher-Geurtsen, but also with Barbara: in my department, LOs are expressed as Key Questions (and preferably trying to use Bloom's Taxonomy as a guide ) so that the pupils can try to answer it by the end of the lesson. Their answers might vary; there are various and equally valid responses to: 'To what extent....?' or 'In what ways could...?' or even 'How...?' - so there is room for creative thinking.
    Our difficulty is the focus by UK OFSTED inspectors who grade our lessons ny measuring pupils' progress (an 'Outstanding' lesson must have Outstanding' learning DEMONSTRATED by a majority of learners - yes, it's a whole other argument!)
    So writing a KQ which includes creative/varied answers which also show measurable proof of progress is a skill we are learning to embrace. One obvious way to do it is to have the discussion with the class - how will we try to answer this question? What kind of skills and methods would be best? They can have some ownership there. Also, you don't need to reveal the KQ at first, as an engaging starter activity can capture their imagination, and a KQ could be devised together. Students in our school have become very good at discussing the How as well as the What of the learning business.

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  30. It is an interesting debate, I vary things a bit and often dont start with title or LO but use a point of enquiry instead. Students can get annoyed if they dont have a title to write when they come in which in my opinion is partly because they like routines they don't have to think about.
    I teach a lot of subjects and so often have to teach other peoples lessons. It drives me crazy when the objective is to understand or know especially as it can then be a massively broad piece of knowledge, I will always change these objectives as I think students who could be made dispondent by not reaching something which is unachievable in the first instance for anyone. Also I get annoyed when they are overloaded with about 10 different thinking skills, break it down and give students one really focused target. Trying to meet AFL objectives means powerpoint slides become overloaded with information which overlooks the way in which people access visual support materials.

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  31. I think to myself 'how dare you tell me what i'm going to learn' If I learn something other than what's on the board am I a failure?

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  32. One thing I've learnt about teaching is that if you treat students like statistics then they'll quickly register the fact (if only unconsciously) and you'll have lost one of the most important components of meaningful learning: trust. Sure, Intended Learning Outcomes can (can) work but its important not to fall back upon them like some kind of cure-all. People respond to being treated like people not aims, objectives or learning outcomes. Formulas are for the chemistry class not pedagogy.

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  33. There is a difference between knowing the objective and teaching it, and writing it on the board. I have learned that when I write it on the board my students get bogged down with it. Learning is a discovery process - the written objective on the board takes away the discovery process. And yes, you can still assess students without the objective on the board. You know the outcome of what you want the student to do and if you teach it correctly most students should get it as some level. My students don't care about the objective, they want to know "what are we doing today." reading a story and discussing a new story, writing a rough draft, etc... - they want the process on the board not the objectives...through the process you may discover new objectives you didn't think about. I just watched a Columbia University lecture online and nowhere on the board were the objectives, nor did the lecturer state that by the end of this lecture you will be able to....; he was able to assess the students'understanding by having them ask questions and his answering them. the lecture was from the neuroscience dept - not my field (well, teaching is neuroscience - so yea it is) and I understood what he was saying and I feel I learned.

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  34. The point of the learnkng objective is to measure learning, whether the students are measuring their own learning or the teacher is measuring student learning. Then tea hers and students do slmething with that info. If there is no target or objective, or if it is unknown, it is hard to do adjust if students are not learning.

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  35. The point of the learnkng objective is to measure learning, whether the students are measuring their own learning or the teacher is measuring student learning. Then tea hers and students do slmething with that info. If there is no target or objective, or if it is unknown, it is hard to do adjust if students are not learning.

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  36. Thanks for this post. I was just introduced to the idea of writing the outcome on the board pre-lesson at my previous school. It made sense as a way of being explicit and focused in my teaching. However, this video is a great reminder of why this method of teaching is not always effective. More important is the exploratory nature of learning, particularly in Mathematics, and how understanding deepens in students when they are led to discovery through effective questions and activities.

    Check out my blog: www.schooledbya5yearold.wordpress.com

    -Andrea

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  37. Providing learning intentions without success criteria is a waste of everyone's time. Show them what success looks like and them give them feedback relative to that... JOHN HATTIE, 2011

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  38. Simply showing someone what success looks like sounds great but contradicts much of what constructivism research has been telling us for over 50 years.

    Feedback is important to be sure but I'm not sure what that has to with writing objectives on the board.

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  39. honestly.. perhaps if your teacher had written objectives on the board you wouldn't write "affect" instead of "effect"..

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  40. I am a freshman in college and my education teacher just taught me to write the objective on the board to show your students what there is to do everyday. Reading your post made me realize the reasons why we shouldn't. Bringing this into her on Monday. Thanks for the info!

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  41. I favoured the comment about 'real teachers having teeth marks on their tongues'- letting children become their own teachers- allowing for the joy of discovering for yourself, rather than simply being told.
    @susiebuell

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  45. Joe, I agree with you. Teachers are educated and well trained. We know what our individual students and the class as a whole needs. Teachers need to stand up and tell so called outside 'experts' and politicians to butt out!Yes, let us include principals also. Has anyone noticed students are still not learning? In the last 12 years, I have seen teachers spoon feeding more and more. Do Now, Essential Q's, objectives, I can statements, Standards posted, exit questions...And students ignore what is on the board and do nothing, because learning has become boring!

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  46. How can you call 'learning' something that has been predetermined, both in terms of outcome and content? In real learning, it seems to me, you DON'T know the outcome beforehand. It IS a mystery, and it SHOULD take you out of your comfort zone. Think back to all the meaningful lessons you've learned in your life (not just bits of information you happen to have picked up somewhere), and reflect on how many of those you saw coming, and how comfortable you were when you learnt them. We keep confusing learning with memory.

    This is why teachers need to have an extremely high degree of mastery of their subject matter: so that they can do what's necessary, and use it as a tool FOR learning, not the objective OF learning. We need to be able to start a conversation about a meaningful topic, and then allow the opportunities for learning to happen naturally, using subject matter as clarification or example of the ideas we're trying to unpack together.

    The tyranny of grading has also led to the tyranny of the lesson plan. It's almost always content-driven, with the "ultimate goal" of transmitting some bit of information. It's a self-referential goal, and therefore meaningless.
    "We will now all learn about verbs, because the curriculum involves learning about verbs."

    "But isn't the curriculum just another word for what we're doing in class? That's tautological."

    "Hush. Don't insult the curriculum."

    My argument is that kids don't "deserve to know the point of the lesson beforehand". They deserve much better.

    We get hung up on what kinds of information and skills are "good for kids", based on unrealistic assessments of our own knowledge and ability. We forget that "what's good for kids" is not, largely, content-based at all, but process-based. And a good process will almost always produce good results, even if those results were not what we originally intended. LEARNING is good for kids, and if you define 'learning' as "memorised facts", then you've killed the whole process.

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  47. If you think writing them on the board is bad, check this out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXwh0A3YP5s

    ReplyDelete
  48. We have a district inservice tomorrow with administration walking through to observe the classroom environments. The teacher next door to me has this on the board for his learning target:

    "I can use my professional judgement to decide when and what is written on my board without fear of external forces dictating that I must give away the ending before the uncovering even begins."

    ReplyDelete
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