Part 2: Creating clearly defined lesson objectives.
*This blog post is part 2 of a four part series on lesson planning that will be published in the next few weeks.
Last week I introduced our blog series on strategic and intentional lesson planning to better support all students (especially ELLs). In that post, we talked about the importance of planning ahead and looking at the “big picture” in order to deliver quality instruction that will provide all students with opportunities to successfully navigate the topic and learn the key concept being taught.
In order to strategically lesson plan, you need to know your students and your state’s content standards. Knowing your students will help with differentiating lessons in order to make it accessible to all types and levels of learners. Being familiar with the state standards enable you to create lessons that are challenging but appropriate. These lessons will also prepare your students for the future and provide them with the 21st century readiness skills necessary to successfully navigate higher education and–eventually–the workforce.
Now that we are clear as to why strategic and intentional lesson planning is important, we are going to go over the how. In this post, I will talk about the first crucial part of lesson planning–creating learning objectives that includes both the content and language objectives.
What Makes a Good Learning Objective?
- A good learning objective should be a combination of both the content and language objectives. The content objective focuses on the mastery of a concept or topic by using certain academic skills. The best place to look when creating a content objective is the content area standards for your subject. Most states have their own version of the state standards for each content area.The language objective, on the other hand, offers the opportunity for students to practice and gain academic language skills. The language objective focuses on language discourse, form, and vocabulary that a student needs in order to successfully master the content objective. Remember, the language objective should focus on literacy or communication skills that students need to practice and improve upon.
- A good learning objective can be observed and assessed. When creating a learning objective, you have to keep the assessment in mind. How will you know if students accomplished the objective? Making the objective observable helps you modify and/or adjust your instruction. By making the modifications and adjustments, you are tailoring your instruction to address students’ immediate needs. The formative assessment based on the objective will give you data to drive your instruction. Data driven instruction is very powerful. It is also the key to a good differentiated lesson plan/instruction that will help you reach all your different learners.
- A good learning objective must be written in language that students can comprehend. An objective is only good if both parties–teacher and students–understand it. Letting students know what they are expected to master gives them some ownership of their own learning. It also gives, both the teacher and students, a focus for the day’s lesson. It keeps them accountable and on-topic. It’s like the idea…it is easier to get somewhere when you know where you are going.
How to Write a Good Learning Objective?
Remember a good learning objective should include the content objective and the language objective.
In order to write a learning objective, you need to know the following:
- The content standard
- The content or topic to be discussed
- Language Proficiency level focus
- ELPAC or WIDA language proficiency descriptors
- Academic skill to be practiced
- Context for discourse
- Language forms to be used
The content standard and topic are used to create content objectives. This part of the objective focuses on the academic skill necessary in order to comprehend the content.
In order to write the language objective you will need to know: 1) What is the academic discourse used; 2) the context in which the discourse will take place (i.e. group discussion, partner share, etc.); and 3) the language forms to be used. In order to know all these, you must be familiar with your language proficiency level descriptors. This will help you understand what is an appropriate language support and what to expect at each level.
For example (This is an example of bridging level language objective):
Combine the language objective and the content objective to create a learning objective.
Students will be able to use sentence frames of complex sentences with conjunctions to explain how a bill becomes law during group discussion.
Once you have a good learning objective, you can start planning the lesson. Your lesson will be intentional and strategic because your learning objective is very specific; it will be content standard and language proficiency based.
*This concludes part 2 of the 4-part series on lesson planning. Please come back next week to learn about gradual release instruction.