you're like most teachers, when you sit down to design
your next instructional unit, you begin by coming up
with activities, projects, lessons and exciting game
plans for the unit. You may pull activities used in
previous years, or lesson ideas gathered from a recent
workshop or shared via a website. With great enthusiasm,
you design, list, and create fascinating student projects
and activities to be used in the upcoming week.
problem with this type of lesson planning is we are
putting the proverbial "cart before the horse."
much as you LOVE the annual "owl pellet dissection"
day, or that great movie about World War II, or the
novel "Of Mice and Men" or the adorable snowmen
your students construct out of cotton balls, or the
faces of your students as they watch styrofoam cups
dissolving in acetone...... the essential question often
missing here is "What are they supposed to be learning
from this activity?"
is not to say that the above are not excellent learning
activities - they may very well be, but unless you begin
by listing the student learning objectives, you have
no way of knowing if the activities you have planned
will help students achieve learning goals, or simply
entertain them and fill the time slot.
favorite question when working with either students
or teachers is, "why?"
did you offer this assignment?"
are you doing this assignment?"
example: You've finished reading Of Mice and Men
and students are assigned into groups, instructed to
choose a scene and act it out.
- Why? What's the learning objective that goes with
example: You've finished studying ancient Egypt and
students are working on posters of Egyptian pyramids.
- Why? What is the learning objective for this?
you do not know the learning, or demonstration of learning,
objectives for an assignment, stop. It's time to recalculate.
It's time to let the horse pull the cart - not the other
your lesson plans by listing the learning objectives.
AND THEN create activities and student projects that
will lead to the learning. Make sure you share the learning
objectives with the students for each and every assignment.
who are using Layered Curriculum know that we begin
every unit by listing what the students are supposed
to know or be able to demonstrate by the end of the
unit. The purpose of the written student menu / unit
sheet is to make that clear to both student and teacher.
teachers and students are not clear on the purpose of
each and every assignment, how can either party know
if the assignment has been successful.