Teachers are amazing planners! They know how to take ideas and turn them into engaging and fun activities. But how does a teacher ensure that children will get the most out of each learning opportunity? Well, it all starts by having a clear learning objective that can be easily expressed to the children in a way in which they will all understand.
Let’s explore the purpose and practical use of Clarity of Learning Objectives.
We can use a train analogy to talk about learning objectives. If you think of a lesson or activity as the train, then the learning objective is the destination. Before the train can get rolling, tracks must be built leading it to the station. In the same way, the learning objective must be determined in order to lay out a clear path toward the desired outcome for children. Just like a train makes stops along its journey, the teacher should encourage “stops” to elicit and explore children’s thoughts, ideas, and real-world connections. While guiding the train gently toward the learning objective, the teacher can slow down to check for comprehension and get back on track or go full speed ahead when the children show they are ready to move along.
Clear learning objectives should be developed in advance by considering, “What exactly do I want my children to better understand through this activity?” or “What skills do I want my children to develop by engaging in this activity?” Once the objective is determined, the question becomes, “How can I express this objective in words my children can easily understand?”
So how can Clarity of Learning Objectives be incorporated into your daily lessons and activities? Just follow 3 easy steps.
Give an advanced organizer by telling the children in a simple sentence what they will learn and do in the upcoming activity. For example, “I am going to read a poem and you will listen for the sound the letter 'b' makes, which is |b|, and you will clap every time you hear the |b| sound.” This sets children up to be successful learners.
Provide reorientation statements to refocus the children’s attention during the activity. For example, “Wait! I heard some claps for the word “top.” Good for you for listening to the beginning sounds in words, but remember what sound we are listening for in this poem. Yes, it’s the sound that the letter 'b' makes, which is |b|. Let’s see what’s in this next line ...” This keeps all the children on track for learning.
Finish activities by giving a summary of what the children did and learned. “Wow, you did a great job clapping for the |b| sound whenever you heard it in this poem. Can anyone remember some of the words you heard that started with the |b| sound? Can you think of other words that begin with that |b| sound?” This confirms what the children learned.
Do you see how Clarity of Learning Objectives can help to keep both the children and the activity on track? When children can understand exactly what they will do and learn during an activity, it helps them focus their attention on what’s important. So, my fellow conductors, let’s grab our plans, be mindful of our children’s signals, and head toward amazing learning destinations! All aboard!
How do you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? I posed that question to a random selection of contacts via text message. What did I discover? Everyone in my sample group spreads on the PB first, then the J. There are a variety of ways though to apply the jelly, but in my random group, the jelly always comes second.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches make me think about Behavior Guidance, a dimension in the CLASS® toddler observation tool. Especially the first two indicators of behavior guidance: proactive and supporting positive behavior. Proactive is the peanut butter! It goes first. That layer of peanut butter is the base for the jelly, which promotes positive behavior.
I was a kindergarten teacher for eight years at a public school. I loved my job, but somewhere along the road I started to become crotchety. I was often annoyed with my colleagues and frustrated with the demands of the district, and I was sure I knew better than any training or professional development session I would ever be forced to attend.
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.
When COVID-19 hit and schools shut down, many of us were certain that it would not impact the 2020-21 school year. But after more than 18 months, it’s clear that the pandemic is still with us. The length of the pandemic has only heightened concern about COVID related learning loss - especially among underserved populations.