Friday, February 19, 2016

Instructional Goals vs. Learning Targets

By Kim Miklusak

In our last Lead Learners meeting we spent time analyzing the differences between instructional objectives vs. learning targets.  Specifically one of the documents we were reviewing was this one: Knowing Your Learning Target

I remember being told in my first year of teaching: always put your objective on your board.  So I would put something like "Complete questions at end of passage" or something similarly vague, but it felt like an objective because we completed it at the end of the period, and the students knew what task we had to accomplish.  But that's just it, it was a task with no connection to why students were doing it.  They wouldn't have been able to articulate the relevance of the task and maybe at times I couldn't as well!

However, as I've taught for longer and worked more on revising various courses, I understand better now why I sequence units together and what my skills and summative goals are for each unit, each lesson, each task (I'm not there yet, obviously, but it's a clear path I'm on). 

This has brought up a few questions:
1.  Do each of us on our PLTs understand clearly why we do each unit, each assessment, each task?
2.  Do I communicate clearly enough to students why we are doing our lessons each day?  Do I spend the right amount of time reviewing the objective?  Would students be able to articulate it and connect it to the broader instructional objective for the unit?
3.  If I were to word the objective in a way that focused on instructional objectives and used academic language, would students understand it?  Would student-friendly language lose the instructional focus?
4.  If I have multiple tasks in one day, do I only write the objective that I am assessing immediately as opposed to the ultimate one that we will be assessing in a few days?  For example my students were writing an argumentative practice paragraph on a specific text we had just covered.  What I wanted to see was the evidence they selected from the text, but they demonstrated that skill through a paragraph, which prepares them for a full essay they will be writing next week.  Does my objective focus on "evidence selection" or is it "comprehension of a text" or is it "preparing skills to create an argumentative essay later"?  I realize any of these is valid, but my ultimate goal for them to demonstrate these skills is the essay; these other skills are mini-lessons assessed on the way.

More on this later in the year as we continue to work in EGLLT, to revise our courses, and to continue to talk on our teams.

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