“I can” objective setting.

what can i doObjective setting is one of those areas where official advice changes with head-spinning rapidity. And don’t get me started on learning outcomes v learning objectives. The strictly positive teacher wants students to know when they come in the room what they are going to learn, and to know that they have learned it when they leave.

After searching for different styles of learning objectives, I need to have a lie-down in a dark room. Here are some examples:

  • The students will recall the four major food groups without error.
  • From a “story-problem” description, students will convert the story to a mathematical manipulation needed to solve the problem.
  • The students will point out the positive and negative points presented in an argument for the abolition of guns.
  • To provide a critical overview of the state of political debate in Britain during the nineteenth century
  • Order food and drinks, ask for directions, book accommodation in a hotel and ask for travel details.
  • Increase my overall levels of fitness and vitality healthily and successfully.

Ye Gods.

The first question is: who is the objective for?

  • the student, so they can see their own progress happening in the class?
  • the teacher, so they can see how well the teaching and learning in that lesson went?
  • a middle leader, so they can check on the teacher?
  • a senior leader, so they can check on the department?
  • ofsted, so they can check on the school?
  • someone else?

Assuming that the learning objective is set so that teaching and learning can be visible to the teacher and the learner, then surely it is very simple to describe what we want to happen in a lesson.

A student should leave the lesson being able to do something which they could not do when they came into the classroom.

This should be explicit. If a monster mum (like me) asks their darling on the way home in the car (as I frequently did): “What did you learn in Geography that you didn’t know before?” , after a brief moment of thought, the child should be able to respond. This is made much easier if they have been told, and have written their LO in their books at the beginning of every lesson:

LO: I can use a compass.

In other words, the student should be able to characterise the fulfilment of their objective by being able to say “I can…”.

  • I can name the four main food groups
  • I can order food in a cafe
  • I can give ten details about the life of William Shakespeare
  • I can turn maths word problems into number problems

Within a course of study, students should be able to look in their books and see the progression of a course of study. The learning objectives over three weeks in German might look like this:

  • I can name 10 sports in German
  • I can say what sports I play using the first person of the verb ‘spielen’
  • I can say what sports I like and don’t like using ‘gern’ and ‘nicht gern’
  • I can describe how often I do sports, using 5 time phrases
  • I can write a short paragraph about my sporting life using 2 linking words
  • I can say what sports other people play using the third person singular of ‘spielen’
  • I can write a short paragraph about my friend’s sporting life using 4 linking words
  • I am ready for a reading assessment on the subject of SPORTS (this is a revision lesson)

In other words, in every lesson the student has learned something which they didn’t know before. They can see how their knowledge builds.

In another post we’ll talk about SMART objectives and Blooms Taxonomy and so forth, but for the moment, let’s just recall that basic and essential truth about a lesson.

A student should leave the lesson being able to do something which they could not do when they came into the classroom.

Then Monster Mum will be happy in the car on the way home, and the student can bask in the knowledge of all that they have learned! Positivity rules!

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