Most teachers identify the goal or objective in their lesson plans. However, can you believe that only 10% share that goal with their students at the beginning of a lesson. Doug Reeves did a study of lessons in 2005 and found that only 10% of teachers set a goal. That means 9 out of 10 teachers never provide students with that "neural courtesy".

We know that setting the goal improves student learning. (Check Marzano's work) Then why are most teachers not doing this? I don't get it!
The way you choose to set that goal is part of the art of teaching. How do you set the goal at the beginning of the lesson?

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I do know that when I specifically tell the students why we are doing something and what our objective is, they try much harder and seem to have a vested interest in the goal. Of course at my level it may be the objective of learning sounds so that we may put these sounds together to make words. And even at the lowest age (4) and level such as squeezing a ball or punching holes with a hole punch or picking up pom poms with tweezers, if they are aware of what the objective is (strengthening their hand muscles so that they may cut better or grip a pencil better) they take it seriously and work on it purposefully..
I find myself doing this quite often in Everyday Math. It seems to happen naturally since some lessons are introductions , some are developing and some are secure. If the students are having difficulty with something and it is a beginning goal they seem to be less up tight about it when they understand it is just an introduction and they don't close down. On the other hand if it is a secure skill and they haven't mastered it they know they have to try harder. I also try to let them know how they will use what they are learning in the real world. Hopefully this helps them to see the benefit they will get from learning a particular thing.
Obviously goals are only attainable if they are first communicated clearly. Communication of the goals motivate students in their understanding of the concept being taught, as well as the concept of why it is being taught in the first place. I try to use analogies that are relevant to their somewhat limited background experiences. For example, when recently reviewing the importance of using transition words in writing, I used the analogy of a roller coaster ride, where the operator constantly applied the breaks during the ride. They were able to see the relationship between a smooth roller coaster ride and the fluency that transition words provide in writing.
I have seen Brain Pop used to introduce the lesson's objective which is a fun and exciting way for the students.
I think putting the objective of the lesson on the board helps students stay focused on instruction. Sometimes, when I am observing, I see lots of interesting ideas and discussions, but the objective gets lost in the verbiage and activities. Clearly stating the objective, and referring back to it during instruction, helps keep students on track.
While I am not familiar with the work by Marzano, I am very familiar with that of Madeline Hunter. She describes effective classroom teaching using a model of Direct Instruction (remember, this is not a dirty word in math).

Within this, effective teacher practice includes having a clear objective and standards of student performance before the lesson. Then, communicate those to the students before and during the lesson.

I recognize that as teachers, we are constantly bombarded with the new and latest technique to “save all!” In my opinion, having a clearly defined objective that is communicated to the students is not the latest craze, but rather a necessary and needed aspect of the instructional day.

An example can also be found where North Carolina, in order to raise levels of student success, had a state-wide adoption of a six-point lesson plan that is based upon the work of Hunter and includes the importance of having and stating the daily objective. Having been schooled in NC, to this day one will find my Title, Objective, Focus, Notes, and Closure ideas written on my overhead or PowerPoint.
Years ago when I was doing my student teaching, I was observing in a 5th grade classroom in a Catholic school. Sister Raymond began her class by explaining to her students what the objectives were in their math lesson that day. As she spoke, she wrote the objectives on the board. At the end of the lesson she returned to the board and asked the students to explain what they had learned in their lesson. Several students raised their hands and provided feedback. In all of my method courses I had never seen that strategy used. It just made sense so I have used it ever since. I feel writing the objective on the board helps students to clarify their understanding and make connections in their learning.
Similar to Janet's post, I know that simply telling my pre-k students what the objective is prior to teaching a lesson, they tend to pay more attention to that particular objective and get the most out of my lesson. For instance, when trying to have the children distinguish between different letter sounds, I will specifically state that I want them to listen carefully for the letters that say their own name and make another sound too (vowels) . This is because these letters are very important to know as we learn how to read because the two sounds of these letters help words to sound different for instance Icecream with a long I or Igloo with a short I sound.
I also know that my boyfriend who teaches at the Ocean City Intermediate School as a phys ed teacher, uses a power point at the beginning of his lessons and reviews the objectives. Then he will teach the lesson and at the end will go back to the power point and ask the students if they feel that they have met the objectives. He will continue to ask them how and why allowing them to take more ownership of their learning, and he says that the students really enjoy it and power point always makes it more interesting too!
I agree with Janet and Julie that our pre-K students seem to be more interested and try harder to accomplish a task when they are given an objective. When I read a story I have my students make predictions before reading, and this gives reading each story a different purpose that my students are looking for rather than just listening to the book. I also take a few minutes to discuss and give objectives before we break into small group time (jobs) so that the students have a clear picture of what I am expecting of them and/or what their final product should be. I may remind them how we act in our library area or show them an example of what they will be working on. I have found that this motivates my students to participate. I will hear them say. "Oh I want to go there and do that."



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