When, Toto, tells Dorothy in the Wizard of
Oz, "I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,"
he speaks for the best classes. The lay of the land has changed, so
that students want to know where they are headed before lessons begin.
Benchmarks of the new landscapes include emerging
facts about how their brains learn best. To shape our new journeys
clear goals, sometimes called performance objectives, are critical
landmarks. Whenever we create one or two clear objectives for a lesson,
we can engage learning differences among students and address their
individual differences to reach that objective. How does a clear objective
direct students toward deeper understanding?
Consider performance objectives that might
accompany a lesson on Inuit in the high Arctic. Objectives are performance
based and begin "The learner will" (TLW) ....
TLW distinguish between _____, using 2 original
TLW conduct a survey to determine _______,
when temperatures drops to___.
TLW select one Spanish poem to create a tableau
for the class, involving 3 peers.
TLW write a business proposal for a new marketing
enterprise for peers.
Performance objectives substitute words such
as know, understand, analyze, appreciate or realize. Clear goals and
objective include words such as state, demonstrate, list, describe,
memorize or compute.
Well-stated objectives simply map clear directions,
ensure understanding of content taught, and create space for active,
student centered learning. Identify one or two significant learning
objectives for each lesson and you save time wasted in re-teaching
content. Objectives in each intellectual domain for the topic, "Arctic
Ravens," might include the following objectives.
TLW list at least five major
characteristics of the Arctic raven.
TLW create and edit a 500 word story to illustrate relationships between
Arctic ravens and Inuit peoples.
TLW outline and explain the
development of ravens from birth to maturity.
TLW illustrate a story to show
the flight patterns of Arctic ravens.
TLW perform a dance to illustrate
raven lifestyles and habits.
TLW pantomime three typical raven activities.
TLW compose or illustrate music
to describe a raven’s day.
TLW interview three peers to
determine how raven relationships compare to human interactions.
TLW explain how raven relations are similar
and different from human friendships.
TLW create a journal with ten
entries about life in the high Arctic from a raven’s perspective
TLW compare and contrast a raven’s
life to other wildlife birds in the Arctic.
Think of performance objectives as maps toward
understanding. Did you ever lose your bearings? That’s how students
feel in a class without clear objectives identified. You feel a bit
like a foreigner trying to navigate New York with a map of Boston.
To prevent everybody’s wasted time and frustration, when planning
a journey, we simply pinpoint the destination before we begin. It
only makes sense. And with an up-to-date map in hand it is really
quite a straightforward task. For many years I had no idea how to
create clear objectives for a unit or lesson, and some faculty tell
you they still don’t use specific objectives for any lesson.
No wonder students express confusion about exactly where they should
be headed. No wonder some don’t expect to arrive anywhere specific.
A checklist to ensure
performance objectives for deeper understanding:
Is each objective measurable?
Do learners perform a task? _____
Do objectives show active verbs? _____
Do objectives describe minimal expectations? _____
Are few words used? _____
Does each objective describe one performance only? _____
Will objectives be followed by related assessment tasks? _____
With destinations clearly in site, learners
are free to enjoy more choices en route to understanding. Toto might
conclude, "the natives are different and this creates shifts
in expectations from them." Roads that lead to specific destinations
often intersect and run parallel to other routes that lead to the
same place. Learners may choose more scenic routes and enjoy the sites,
or choose busy highways for faster, direct travel. Still others enjoy
beating new paths, forging streams, or maybe even battling against
storms and heat waves along their way. Many options are possible only
when a class knows where they are expected to land in the end.
Dr. Ellen Weber is Founder/Director
of the MITA International Renewal (Multiple Intelligence Teaching Approach)
Center to support brain-based renewal in secondary and higher education.