This is long. Don’t freak. We’ll go over this in class. I’m also moving due dates to Tuesdays mainly for my own management. So this one will be due 9/24.
Resources for today:
Additional resources if you need them
Some of you may have had exposure to writing objectives. This may be similar or the same as what you’ve seen or it may be new. There is no “one right way” but it is important to have an understanding of what proper objectives are, how to align them with standards, and how we use them. Your will include at least one objective in each of your major projects.
To begin, it is useful to understand the differences between goals and objectives. While it is somewhat outside the scope of this course to fully develop this skill/understanding, it is important to be able to identify goals, write objectives and understand their role in teaching. One way to help separate them is to remember that goals are general statements about the long term outcome while objectives are specific, measurable and generally short term. You assess objectives and we use them as a proxy for whether or not students are meeting the goals.
In order to help make this more clear, you may wish to check out this website. In my experience, writing objectives seems to be the hardest thing for students to grasp so we will spend some class time on this. However, your own efforts in writing some example objectives that we can discuss will be very beneficial.
One important aspect to writing good lessons is writing good objectives. We will look at what are called ABCD objectives. This is simply a nice mnemonic to help you remember how to write good, measurable objectives. If you know anything about writing objectives this will be instantly clear. If you don’t, this should help make it clear. There are other ways to write objectives, but I find these usually result in clear and easily measurable objectives.
A = Audience (i.e. who will you be teaching this to?)
B = Behavior (i.e. what specific skill will the learner demonstrate?)
C = Condition (i.e. what tools or in what way will it be demonstrated?)
D = Degree (i.e. how accurately or how many times or to what degree should it be demonstrated in order to be considered “learned”?)
Example – from standard to objective
4th grade math standard 4.1.b
Use concepts of angle and measure angles. (CCSS: 4.MD)
- Describe angles as geometric shapes that are formed wherever two rays share a common endpoint, and explain concepts of angle measurement. (CCSS: 4.MD.5)
- Measure angles in whole-number degrees using a protractor. Sketch angles of specified measure. (CCSS: 4.MD.6)
- Demonstrate that angle measure as additive. (CCSS: 4.MD.7)
- Solve addition and subtraction problems to find unknown angles on a diagram in real world and mathematical problems. (CCSS: 4.MD.7)
This standard is asking that students develop the ability to use tools to measure and sketch angles. How is up to us. Lets have them use various shapes such as triangles and quadrilaterals. The audience (A) is pretty straightforward. It’s 4th graders. We can be even more specific and say “4th grades in the second semester” or “4th graders who have already completed a lesson on using a protractor” as that might be important to the lesson. The behavior (B) in this case is to measure the interior angles of various shapes with a protractor which is the condition (C). We might also add where the triangles come from like a textbook, worksheet or ones they draw themselves. The degree (D) is how well or accurately they do this or how many times they can do it before we consider them to have met the objective. So we might say, “measure angles within two degrees of accuracy and on at least five shapes without error.” Because objectives also guide our assessment we now know what we need to observe and under what conditions. Our final objective will be something like:
Given examples of several different triangles and quadrilaterals, fourth grade students who have already completed a lesson on how to use a protractor will measure the interior angles of at least five different shapes to within at least two degrees accuracy.
We might have additional objectives that involve sketching angles of specific size, using knowledge of interior sum to check their work (also a number sense standard) or to solve for an unknown which is also part of the above standard.
There isn’t one right answer to writing these objectives. There are any number of ways to state an objective, but the main point to remember is that your objective identifies the key parts in a way that is clear and ultimately measurable and leads back to the standard. An objective like “students will learn to measure angles with a protractor” is a good start but offers no way to assess whether or not the objective was met. If they can do it once is that enough? Can they make errors? Can they be off by 5 or 10 degrees and we will call it good? Regardless, we need to state these expectations in our objectives.
Because this example is a simple objective, our assessment will also be simple. We will simply check to see how many of the angles were properly measured. Students who cannot do this obviously need reteaching. One of the main reasons we assess is to know who learned and who we still need to teach. So, if one triangle had angles of 90, 45 and 45 degrees we would expect a proficient student to have answers ranging from 88-92 and 43-47 degrees respectively. Furthermore, we might expect that they understand the sum total would equal 180 degrees and adjust their answers to match. If that’s also important we would add it to the objective in the degree (angle sums must add up appropriately).
Please note that the above example is a low-level objective in that we are only asking them to recall how to use a tool correctly and show us as well as basic understanding of shapes. Your objective(s) for your projects in this class should be at a higher level. Low level objectives rarely lead to 21st century learning though they are at times necessary. As we’ve learned, Bloom’s Taxonomy is often used as a way to discuss the various types of cognitive objectives (as well as affective and psychomotor) which are sometimes grouped from low to high as recall, interpretation and problem-solving. 21st century skills are heavily weighted toward the high end of Bloom’s Taxonomy and an assessment of the learning would also need to be more involved.
21st Century Objectives
4th grade math 1.2.a
Use ideas of fraction equivalence and ordering to: (CCSS: 4.NF)
- Explain equivalence of fractions using drawings and models.
- Use the principle of fraction equivalence to recognize and generate equivalent fractions. (CCSS: 4.NF.1)
- Compare two fractions with different numerators and different denominators,5 and justify the conclusions. (CCSS: 4.NF.2)
In order to have something that invites creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, etc., lets have students develop a device to create equivalent fractions for easy adding and subtracting. For example, a clock face can represent 1/12, 1/6, 1/4, 1/3, 1/2. 1/4 (15 mins) + 1/3 (20 mins) = 7/12 (35 mins). This might be the example we use to demonstrate the project. Obviously, students cannot just jump into this cold so our overall lesson would involve the necessary instructions and guidance. Here we are only talking about the objective. The rest of the lesson is developed out of the objective and assessments.
A = 4th grade math students
B = create a tool that can be used to find and generate equivalent fractions
C = using any common object or idea and in groups or 2-3
D = works and can be easily understood by other 4th grades to add and subtract fractions.
Using any common object or idea of their choice, 4th grade students working in groups of 2-3 will create their own tool for finding and generating equivalent fractions in such a way that other 4th graders could use the tool to reliably and accurately add or subtract fractions.
This particular objective includes a high level verb, create, with respect to Bloom’s. With higher order objectives it also becomes a bit harder to discuss condition and degree. Here the condition is open-ended and the degree is dependent on user testing and observation. Unlike measuring angles, it’s hard to pinpoint how well they do on an assessment like this other than to have a good rubric.
So far, these objectives do not involve any technology. Maybe none is needed for these. This course, however, is concerned with not only 21st century teaching but also understanding how and when to integrate technology in transforming ways. Keep in mind that technology is NOT the learning objective. Rather, we will use technology in a transforming way to help enhance the students’ learning of some piece of content. Lessons including 21st century skills will likely contain cognitive objectives at the creation/synthesis level. Technology will play a role in your lessons when appropriate, but not as an objective or the focus of the lesson. This is an essential point of this class to understand.
How Can Tech “Add Value”
The above objective is pretty good and would likely be fun and engaging for students and probably a little hard as well (which is good). They will need to user-test their ideas. The students in the class may not be good candidates because they are all busy coming up with ideas. One of the ISTE standards concerns working with others at a distance using digital media. Perhaps our class partners with another and students share their ideas via a website, blog or wiki and collect feedback. Their sites include a description of the tool, original drawings and/or videos, sample problems, and a space for feedback. Because our assessment involves having other students be successful with their tool, the feedback IS the assessment. Students “turn it in” once others successfully work with it.
Write up a sample objective for a standard of your choice. Include it in a comment below and be sure to name the standard and grade level and paste the particular outcome (I put mine in bold above).