Putting Learning Objectives in Perspective

We all want to believe that our students are learning something when we teach. When some beginning teachers write learning objectives for their lessons, they may say they want students to “know the lesson” or to “understand” some concepts. But if you think about this for a moment, I’m sure you’ll agree…
It’s impossible to see “learning” or “knowing” because those take place INSIDE our students’ brains! We can only see the evidence of knowing, in something students DO.
For example, if you simply look at a student, it is impossible to tell if that student knows the English alphabet. The student must SAY the alphabet to DEMONSTRATE his knowledge. Therefore, if you plan a lesson on the alphabet, but your objective is only that “students will know the alphabet,” you may or may not plan an effective lesson, but if you plan a lesson where your objective is that each student will recite the alphabet by the end of it, then you will plan activities that will help students to accomplish that goal. When you have a clear, specific objective for something your students will DO, your lesson is likely to be much more effective.

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In a related post, I wrote about a way to divide lesson planning for language learning into three stages: pre-learning (comprehensible input), learning (meaningful use of the language), and post-learning (output that can be assessed to show what students have learned). This post continues that concept, relating learning objectives to these stages and to Bloom’s taxonomy.
You may have heard “verbs should be used to write objectives.” Many sites offer lists of verbs, based on Bloom’s taxonomy for use in writing learning objectives as something that students do. However, in researching those lists, I found that they often repeat verbs in overlapping categories. The verbs included were also somewhat difficult to define, especially for teachers using English as a secondary language.
I felt that both of these things might cause confusion for some of the pre-service teachers I’d been working with. I wanted to create a simpler list that also put the verbs and Bloom’s taxonomy in the context of lesson planning as we’d been discussing it – planning for lessons that would encourage both critical thinking and language production.

http://www.vidyablog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/learning_objectives_as_specific_actions.pdf

Please do let me know if you find it useful or if you see anything that could be made clearer or more useful.

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3 Responses to Putting Learning Objectives in Perspective

  1. Dharmendra says:

    Dear DB,
    I have gone through your blog. I specially liked your write-up ‘Designing Lessons with the help of Bloom’s Taxonomy’. It is great. Thank you for sharing it.
    Now, do you think you could develop some lesson plans based on the textbooks prepared by the Gujarat State Textbook Board?
    I look forward to meeeting you.
    Best wishes,
    Dharmendra.

    • Dee says:

      Thanks for your comments. I imagine so. Do you have specific texts in mind? I’ve created a number of model lessons based on these principles while working with textbook writers for the new English-medium textbooks for Gujarat. In truth, though, past the training stage for teachers, I don’t think actually writing the lesson plans is necessary and, in my experience, I’ve only known experienced teachers to do it when forced to for administrative reasons. What I do think is absolutely essential is that teachers create lessons around observable, specific objectives and that they create activities that allow students to use language meaningfully while they learn what they need to know to meet those objectives. I do hope we get a chance to work together soon.
      Best,
      Dee

  2. Nilufar Jamoliddinova says:

    Dear Dee,
    thanks a lot for clear explanation. Yes, I agree with you that Bloom’s Taxonomy is a bit complicated to catch. Recently I took part in Shaping the Way We Teach English on-line course and I read an article about designing lesson objectives using ABCD. It seems to me more easier way. Is it tha same with Bloom’s Taxonomy? Is it used widely or not?
    Thanks,
    Nilufar

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