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Using Learning Objectives Effectively: Enhancing Student Proficiency And Curriculum Congruency

2746 words - 11 pages

Abstract

Schools throughout the nation are facing increased pressure to increase students knowledge and standardized testing scores. To reach those goals schools are looking to improve both teacher instruction and curriculum based assessments. Many districts are practicing developing standards based learning objectives, posting and communicating those objectives in order to assure instruction is congruent to their respective curriculum. Although, there is a wide range of research to show learning objectives can be effective in the classroom, many teachers do not use the targets daily or do not understand how to create meaningful objectives for daily instruction. Standards do not inform ...view middle of the document...

As a result, instruction, even when it is standards driven, is not effective and often students develop a lack of motivation and value for the their educational experience. Evidence of this dilemma can be observed in the high school I teach in, analysis of standardized test scores and progress grades, along with simple student and parent interaction. Bourbon County Schools, as a district, has decided to use Assessment for Learning, by Rick Stiggins, to enhance over all student proficiency and curriculum congruency. One of the first steps in Stiggins' model is developing standard based learning objectives to help teachers manage the instruction of the content effectively and inform students and parents, in friendly language, of the goals each unit of study.
Whether, you are going on vacation or planning for life after school, you want to know where you are going and how you are going to arrive at your destination. If we want students to become proficient in the content then why wouldn't we tell them what we expect them to know before we assess them either formatively or with a summative assessment? Every teacher in my building agreed this did make sense and every teacher had some experience with objectives, but not in making them meaningful and standards based. During the 2009-2010 school year daily objectives were required to be posted in every classroom. However, the majority of teachers found themselves posting objectives to be compliant, not to improve proficiency or help guide curriculum based instruction. As a result students did know what they were supposed to be taking away from classes and parents doubted the work ethic of the students and the staff. I was very interested to see if posting and communicating objectives regularly could lead to an increase in content understanding and motivation for students and also help me teach a very large content area within a limited amount of time while still covering the state designed curriculum.

Significance of Problem
There have been countless times during my short teaching career when I have had students absent. Although, each student knows the proper protocol for obtaining missed class information, undoubtedly a student will turn to a peer and ask “What did we do yesterday?” My blood pressure sees an increase when the peer replies “Nothing”. Nothing? Why would one of my students respond with “nothing” when they know we work from bell to bell each class period. Who else is this kid telling “We don't do anything in Mrs. Wells' class” ?
I can recall my time as student in the very high school I teach at today, where I was very organized. I wanted to know in advance what information the days lesson would entail and what would be expected of me by the end of the class period. Despite my desire to have a clear learning path, it was not always offered. There were many times as student where during a lesson I would think to myself “What does this have to do with what we are talking...

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