From lesson plans to educational objectives

Educational objectives are giving teachers fits. Faced with a set of annual objectives, such as the Common Core State Standards, teachers don’t know what to do. They are comfortable with lesson plans. They can handle unit studies. But the idea of working an entire year toward an objective boggles their minds.

I have five suggestions that may help.

1. Get a copy of the educational standards.

Don’t expect to learn how to implement educational standards from a 90-minute webinar. Don’t wait for your district to give a workshop. If you found this blog, you can find the standards you need.

2. Read the standards carefully.

Don’t read what bloggers think; read the documents yourself. You’ll have to teach students to find and use primary documents to comply with Common Core. You might as well start now.

3. Identify lesson plans that lead toward that objective.

Identify lesson plans in your repertoire that will work within the educational standards you must use. I’m sure you teach some lessons that are geared toward aspects of major educational standards. The basic skill students use every daily across the curriculum are mentioned in educational standards. From reading and writing to technology use,  educational standards include them all.

4. Identify other ways to teach toward those objectives.

You know how you always gripe that you don’t have time to get everyone up to speed by the end of the lesson or end of the unit? You’re right. That’s why educational standards let you  teach multiple ways, multiple times to get students up to speed on the most important skills, the cognitively demanding ones.

Instead of preparing a lesson plan or a two-week unit on persuasive writing, think about teaching persuasive over 36 weeks. Better yet, think about teaching persuasive writing as a tool that students will use to learn some other course content rather than as an end in itself.

5. Decide how to meet educational objectives and your educational goals.

If the educational objective is that students read and write nonfiction competently but your goal is to have students learn to value literature, figure out some way to combine the two. Remember, people don’t need to write plays to enjoy a performance of Shakespeare. Even a movie critic has to learn to write nonfiction.

Thinking in terms of educational objectives means getting beyond lesson plans and unit plans. To meet educational objectives, you need to finish the job.