Teaching with Learning Objectives

It’s a simple premise:  our students should know what they are learning and why.  The best way to accomplish this is through having learning objectives for every lesson.  Yet, teachers tend to make some common mistake around learning objectives.  Knowing these common mistakes will help you maximize your practice in using learning objectives:

1) Clearly post learning objectives.

Don’t make the students continually guess what they will be learning.  It’s not fun for the students, and they will eventually give up trying.  Your learning objective should never be a secret.  Your learning objective should be written or placed in a prominent place in your classroom.  Some teachers write it in PowerPoint, some use document cameras, and others have their learning objectives written in a dedicated space on their white board.  Do what works best for you and your students, but the key is to consistently post it.

2) Make your learning objective relevant.

Reference your learning objectives in the beginning of each lesson.  If you continually talk about (give attention to) the learning objective students will come to understand that this is important and something they should pay attention to.  Another way is to have the students do some activity around the learning objective.  For instance, you may ask students to reflect on their progress in achieving the learning objective and what they need to meet it.

3) Write the learning objective in simple, student-friendly language.

Avoid going crazy with a paragraph-long learning objective.  Keep it simple, allowing the student to understand it.  To ensure students understand the learning objective you can have students rewrite the learning objective in their own words.

4) Double-check to see if  it is really an objective or activity.

Examples of activities masked as learning objectives:

“Read Chapter 2 in the your textbook.”

“Summarize Chapter 2.”

Examples of a learning objectives:

Students will be able to

“Describe the author’s perspective in Chapter 2″

“Compare and contrast between current author and a past author’s perspective”

5) Ensure your learning objectives drive the lesson.

Every activity and assessment must be connected to your learning objectives.  Often teachers have great activities, but they have nothing to do with the learning objective.