When conducting a CLASS training, there are always a few dimensions I know participants are probably going to struggle with more than others. For instance, Concept Development is going to be tricky for some, followed closely by Quality of Feedback. Usually though, as we progress through training, these dimensions become more clear.
But this post isn’t about a challenging dimension. It isn’t even about the Instructional Support domain. This post is about Clarity of Learning Objectives (CLO), a pesky indicator for some, hiding in the Instructional Learning Formats dimension.
CLO’s behavioral markers include three mostly unfamiliar terms: advanced organizers, summaries, and reorientation statements. While the manual provides examples in the descriptive pages, and Teachstone offers several videos to help participants make sense of these terms, I often end this dimension with participants still asking questions. What do these terms really mean? What do they look like in Pre-K classrooms? What is the difference between a mid and a high-range example?
I decided to talk with some CLASSy people about this indicator because it can be challenging to clear up the confusion during a busy, content-packed training. Here are some great takeaways from that discussion! These examples concretely illustrate the three behavioral markers and other interactions that provide evidence of Clarity of Learning Objectives at a variety of ranges.
Remember: the behavioral markers aren’t a checklist, so teachers do not necessarily need to use every one of these statements to demonstrate highly effective CLO; however, they do need to focus children on tasks and learning objectives and may often use these strategies to do that!
The teacher prepares the children for what they are going to do before the activity begins. Teachers typically only use advanced organizers at the beginning of a lesson or activity.
The children know why they are doing the activities and how to focus their attention during them.
While children are correctly focused on particular tasks, they are mostly unclear on the learning objectives behind those tasks.
The teacher summarizes for the children what they just did after the completion of an activity. Teachers typically use summary statements at the end of a lesson or activity.
The teacher clearly summarizes what children have done and the children could clearly explain why they did it.
The teacher makes an attempt to summarize the activites, but these statements are brief and superficial, so the learning objectives are never made clear to children.
The teacher reminds the children what they are doing and why during the activity or lesson. Reorientation Statements can happen at anytime during an activity, and may be in response to children’s wandering focus, or not.
The teacher clearly refocuses the children’s attention on the learning objectives and tasks throughout the activity. Children are reminded how to focus their attention and the purpose their activities.
Most, or all of the children know what to do and how to focus their attention, but the learning objective isn’t clear. While the teacher mentions the snow pictures, the link isn’t explicit or obvious. Some children might have made the connection on their own, painting snowmen or making footprints and snowflakes, but others might be making flowers or hearts instead, showing their lack of clarity on the objective, even though they know how to focus their attention.
I hope these examples are helpful in your journey to train and coach others on the CLASS measure. Share some examples you like to use when clarifying this tricky indicator!
When COVID-19 hit and schools shut down, many of us were certain that it would not impact the 2020-21 school year. But with the pandemic surging and some schools opening up - only to shut down again, it’s clear that COVID is still with us. The length of the pandemic has only heightened concern about COVID related learning loss - especially among underserved populations.
Shared physical presence is a large part of how we’re used to connecting with each other. Strong connections and relationships are important for children who may have recently experienced loss, high stress, or trauma. As teachers connect with children in a virtual setting, it can be more challenging to think about how to create a safe space for learning, sharing experiences, and taking risks.
We recently came across a really interesting article that examined both the academic and emotional aspects of teaching mathematics and we were excited when the lead author agreed to answer some of our questions about the study. Read below for our conversation with Rebekah Berlin, Program Director for the Learning by Scientific Design Network at Deans for Impact.
With the increased presence of virtual schooling, parents and educators of young children, including myself, are finding themselves stressed. Are children getting the content they need? How do I engage children in learning virtually? How do we help children develop essential skills such as curiosity, attention, and emotion regulation in a virtual setting? In a recent New York Times op-ed, entitled “Kids Can Learn to Love Learning, Even Over Zoom”, psychologist Adam Grant shared ways that teachers can promote curiosity in a virtual classroom. He discussed the importance of including “mystery, exploration, and meaning.”