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Lesson Planning and Lesson Plan Ideas
Lesson planning...who needs it? Well, maybe you do! Lesson planning is a special skill that is learned in much the same way as other skills. It is one thing to surf the Net and get lesson plans that you can use from other sites. It is quite another thing to have the skill to develop your own lesson plans. Having this skill is far more valuable than being able to use lesson plans developed by others. It takes thinking and practice to hone this skill, and it won't happen overnight, but it is a skill that will help to define you as a teacher. Knowing "how to" is far more important than knowing "about" when it comes to lesson plans. Good lesson plans do not ensure students will learn what is intended, but they certainly contribute to it. Think of a lesson plan as a way of communicating. Lesson plans also help new or inexperienced teachers organize content, materials, and methods. When you are learning the craft of teaching, organizing your content via lesson plans is fundamental, believe me, and you'll get better at it the more you do it and think of ways of improving based on feedback from your students, their parents, and other teachers. It's simple; effective lesson plans communicate, ineffective ones don't. Teachers create lesson plans to communicate their instructional activities regarding specific subject-matter. Almost all lesson plans developed by teachers contain student learning objectives, instructional procedures, the required materials, and some written description of how the students will be evaluated. Many experienced teachers often reduce lesson plans to a mental map or short outline. New teachers, however, usually find detailed lesson plans to be indispensable. Learn to write good lesson plans - it is a skill that will serve you well as a teacher. Five Common Mistakes in Writing Lesson Plans (and how to avoid them ) Successful teachers are invariably good planners and thinkers. In my career as a teacher and teacher educator, I have read and evaluated thousands of lesson plans written by education students at all levels. On a consistent basis, I see mistakes that distort or weaken what the plans are supposed to communicate. You can improve your lesson-planning skills by first thinking carefully about what the lesson is supposed to accomplish. There is no substitute for this. In teaching students how to develop lesson plans, the following are mistakes I have observed that students make most often: 1. The objective of the lesson does not specify what the student will actually do that can be observed. 2. The lesson assessment is disconnected from the behavior indicated in the objective. 3. The materials specified in the lesson are extraneous to the actual described learning activities. 4. The instruction in which the teacher will engage is not efficient for the level of intended student learning. 5. The student activities described in the lesson plan do not contribute in a direct and effective way to the lesson objective. A lesson plan that contains one or more of these mistakes needs rethinking and revision. Below is a rationale and guide to help you develop effective lesson plans and avoid the five common mistakes.
FIRST, YOU MUST KNOW HOW TO PLAN The purpose of a lesson plan is really quite simple; it is to communicate. But, you might ask, communicate to whom? The answer to this question, on a practical basis, is YOU! The lesson plans you develop are to guide you in helping your students achieve intended learning outcomes. Whether a lesson plan fits a particular format is not as relevant as whether or not it actually describes what you want, and what you have determined is the best means to an end. If you write a lesson plan that can be interpreted or implemented in many different ways, it is probably not a very good plan. This leads one to conclude that a key principle in creating a lesson plan is specificity. It is sort of like saying, "almost any series of connecting roads will take you from Key West Florida to Anchorage Alaska, eventually." There is however, one any only one set of connecting roads that represents the shortest and best route. Best means that, for example getting to Anchorage by using an unreliable car is a different problem than getting there using a brand new car. What process one uses to get to a destination depends on available resources and time. So, if you agree that the purpose of a lesson plan is to communicate, then, in order to accomplish that purpose, the plan must contain a set of elements that are descriptive of the process. Let's look at what those elements should be. THE LESSON PLAN 1. Preliminary Information The development of a lesson plan begins somewhere, and a good place to start is with a list or description of general information about the plan. This information sets the boundaries or limits of the plan. Here is a good list of these information items: (a) the grade level of the students for whom the plan is intended; (b) the specific subject matter (mathematics, auto body, culinary arts, English, etc.); (c) if appropriate, the name of the unit of which the lesson is a part or the OCAP or ITAC; and (d) the name of the teacher. 2. The Parts Each part of a lesson plan should fulfill some purpose in communicating the specific content, the objective, the learning prerequisites, what will happen, the sequence of student and teacher activities, the materials required, and the actual assessment procedures. Taken together, these parts constitute an end (the objective), the means (what will happen and the student and teacher activities), and an input (information about students and necessary resources). At the conclusion of a lesson, the assessment tells the teacher how well students actually attained the objective. In a diagram, the process looks something like this: Input ======>process=====>output Let's look at each part separately. Input: This part refers to the physical materials, other resources, and information that will be required by the process. What are these inputs? First of all, if you have thought about what the lesson is supposed to accomplish, the inputs are much easier to describe. In general categories, inputs consist of: 1. Information about the students for whom the lesson is intended. This information includes, but is not limited to the age and grade level of the students, and what they already know about what you want them to learn.
2. Information about the amount of time you estimate it will take to implement the lesson. 3. Descriptions of the materials that will be required by the lesson, and at some point, the actual possession of the materials. 4. Information about how you will acquire the physical materials required. 5. Information about how to obtain any special permissions and schedules required. For example if your lesson plan will require a field trip, you must know how to organize it. If your lesson will require a guest speaker (fire chief, lawyer, police officer, etc.) you must know how to make arrangements for having that person be at the right place at the right time.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Process This is the actual plan. If you have done the preliminary work (thinking, describing the inputs), creating the plan is relatively easy. There are a number of questions you must answer in the creating the plan: 1. What are the inputs? This means you have the information (content description, student characteristics, list of materials, prerequisites, time estimates, etc.) necessary to begin the plan. 2. What is the output? This means a description of what the students are supposed to learn. 3. What do I do? This means a description of the instructional activities you will use. 4. What do the students do? This means a description of what the students will do during the lesson. 5. How will the learning be measured? This means a description of the assessment procedure at the end of the lesson. For a short discourse on how to write an assessment, click here.
As an example, here is a template that has been used successfully to teach students to write lesson plans: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Lesson Plan Format: Teacher_______________________________________ Subject_________________________ Grade Level________________________________ Date___________________________ I. Content: This is a statement that relates to the subject-matter content. The content may be a concept or a skill. Phrase this as follows: I want my students to: (be able to [name the skill]) OR (I want my students to understand [a description of the concept]). Often times, this content is predetermined or strongly suggested by the specific curriculum you are implementing through your teaching. II. Prerequisites: Indicate what the student must already know or be able to do in order to be successful with this lesson. (You would want to list one or two specific behaviors necessary to begin this lesson). III. Instructional Objective: Indicate what is to be learned - this must be a complete objective. Write this objective in terms of what an individual student will do, not what a group will do. Limit your objective to one behavioral verb. The verb you choose must come from the list of defined behavioral verbs on my web site. Make sure your objective relates to the content statement above. IV. Instructional Procedures: Description of what you will do in teaching the lesson, and, as appropriate, includes a description of how you will introduce the lesson to the students, what actual instructional techniques you will use, and how you will bring closure to the lesson. Include what specific things students will actually do during the lesson. In most cases, you will provide some sort of summary for the students. V. Materials and Equipment: List all materials and equipment to be used by both the teacher and learner and how they will be used. VI. Assessment/Evaluation: Describe how you will determine the extent to which students have attained the instructional objective. Be sure this part is directly connected to the behavior called for in the instructional objective. VII. Follow-up Activities: Indicate how other activities/materials will be used to reinforce and extend this lesson. Include homework, assignments, and projects. VIII. Self-Assessment (to be completed after the lesson is presented): Address the major components of the lesson plan, focusing on both the strengths, and areas of needed improvement. Determine here how you plan to collect information that will be useful for planning future lessons. A good idea is to analyze the difference between what you wanted (the objective) and what was attained (the results of the assessment). Of course, there is an immense difference between being able to plan and actually being able to carry out the plan. However, if you have thought carefully about where you are going before you begin writing your plan, the chances of your success, as well as the success of your students, are much greater. Remember: "Anything not understood in more than one way is not understood at all."
LESSON PLANS THE EASY WAY "There's always more than one way to do anything." The following ideas, information, and example of lesson planning illustrate the point. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ School curriculum (what is intended students learn) is usually structured in units, or in our case, OCAPs or ITACs. The units can have themes or not, but they include many topics that are united by a common thread. These units, which may involve work for days or weeks, are subdivided into daily lesson plans. Lesson plans are written by teachers to help them structure the learning for themselves and for the students. Research indicates that all students benefit from and appreciate well-structured lessons. All lessons are based on curriculum; that is, what is intended that students learn. Sometimes the curriculum reflects intended learning outcomes that are processes, like learning to research a topic, or learning long division. Sometimes the curriculum reflects learning outcomes relating to memorizing information, such as the multiplication tables, or the conditions that make a desert. Sometimes the curriculum outcomes are about creating a basis for judgments, like the qualities of being a good pet owner. Sometimes the curriculum outcomes relate to applying knowledge, like writing essays, or analyzing and solving problems, or analyzing economic relationships. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Daily Lesson Plans Purpose Lesson plans are not written for teachers to read to the class. They are used to structure the lesson and to help with the flow of the class, especially when something has occurred to distract everyone, including the teacher. Thinking Parts Lesson plans are first of all a thinking process. This thinking process basically is completed in four parts. First, determine the curriculum; that is, what the children will learn, what they will be able to do upon completing the activities or work of the lesson. Second, determine what the students already know, before beginning the lesson that can lead into the new curriculum of the day. Third, determine at least one way to assist the students in learning the new curriculum. Fourth, determine at least one way to evaluate the learning outcomes of the students.
Written Format There are many different formats that can be used to write daily lesson plans. Formats that are most useful are very simple to follow and are well structured. An outline format can be used very easily during class for quick references by the teacher. It can be followed and accessed very quickly by the teacher in case there is a distraction or in case the teacher loses his (her) train of thought. The following is one type of outline format for writing daily lesson plans. First, write the student academic behavioral learning objective based on the thinking parts above (especially the first and fourth steps; that is, what the students will be able to DO upon completing the lesson, and what student academic knowledge will be evaluated as a result). Second, follow steps A, B, and C as follows: A: What the students enter the lesson already knowing (prerequisites) Review any prerequisite knowledge that will lead easily into the new curriculum. B: Core lesson (what the teacher and the students do) Be sure to include the exact examples, problems, projects, or activities that will be used. C: The NEW curriculum that the students exit the lesson knowing (objective of the lesson) Review and stress again all of the most important points of the core lesson. Note: The thinking parts involve thinking about A, B, and C above in this order. First determine C, then determine A (pretest if necessary), and finally determine and develop B.
EXAMPLE OF THE ENTIRE PROCESS Lesson topic and situation: Teaching addition to kindergarten students for the first time. Thinking Parts First, determine the curriculum; that is, what the children will learn, what they will be able to do upon completing the activities or work of the lesson. Students will add for the first time. Since this is in kindergarten and the first time that they have added, the process will be limited somewhat. They will add only two numbers, and the answers to the problems (the sums) will be less than 10. Second, determine what the students already know, before beginning the lesson that can lead into the new curriculum of the day. The students know various patterning techniques, geometric shapes, ordinal numbers, etc... However, because the lesson will be adding for the first time and adding is actually counting then the lesson will begin by reviewing what they already know about counting. This will lead very smoothly into adding. Beginning the
lesson with any other topic, such as, geometric shapes or ordinal numbers, would NOT lead smoothly into addition. Third, determine at least one way to assist the students in learning the new curriculum. Since this is the very first lesson on addition, the process of "putting together and counting" will be stressed. Therefore, manipulatives (cubes this time) will be used by the students to count, put together, and count again. Fourth, determine at least one way to evaluate the learning outcomes of the students. Students will have their own paper, pencils, and cubes to use for completing problems that are given. Teacher observation of the process and accuracy of answers will be used to evaluate student progress. Written Format Student Academic Behavioral Learning Objective (what the students will be able to do upon completing the lesson): The students will use manipulatives to add two single-digit numbers whose sum is less than ten. A: What the students enter the lesson already knowing (prerequisites) Stress counting number values up to 10. Display 4 cubes on the overhead. Ask "How many?" Write the number on the overhead just above the cubes. Repeat and discuss the answer. Follow the same steps putting these number of cubes on the overhead: 7, 3, 9, 8. Make sure each student has a group of 12 cubes that are the same color. Make sure each student has a counting mat. Direct students to watch the overhead and to put the indicated number of cubes on their counting mats when told to do so. Write these numbers on the overhead, one at a time: 5, 9, 1, 6 Direct students to put that number of cubes on their counting mats. Between writing each of these numbers: circulate around the room, assist students, evaluate student progress and accuracy, and then direct students to clear their counting mats. B: Core lesson (what the teacher and the students do) Direct students to turn their counting mats over. Point out the three circles on this side. Introduce "We are going to count some more, but just a little differently. Listen carefully and follow my directions exactly." BEGIN DIRECTION/QUESTION CYCLE FOR ADDING "Write the number 4 above the first circle. Put 4 cubes in the first circle and leave them there. (Pause to give the students time to follow the directions.) Write the number 2 above the second circle. Put 2 cubes in the second circle and leave them there. (Pause again for the students.)
Now, listen carefully. (Pause for attention.) Push all of the cubes over and into the last circle and leave them there. (Pause again and wait for them to finish.) Now, count the number of the cubes altogether in the last circle. How many cubes are there?" Call on a student. Get an answer. Have the students write the correct answer above the last circle. Discuss the answer and the process. "When we put groups (or sets) of items together and count them altogether we are adding. This is the symbol that people use to mean add +. (Write the symbol and the word add on the overhead.)" "Now clear all the cubes off of your mats. (Pause) Watch the overhead and follow my directions again." END DIRECTION/QUESTION CYCLE FOR ADDING Give the same directions/questions as above in the DIRECTION/QUESTION CYCLE FOR ADDING, but use these problems: 6 + 3 = , 2 + 3 = , 1 + 7 = , and 4 + 4 =. Direct students to their practice problems. Read the directions with them. Allow them to use the cubes to do the problems. Do the first problem together with them. Circulate and assist while they complete the rest of the five problems. C: The NEW curriculum that the students exit the lesson knowing (objective of the lesson) Review the definition of adding: "putting groups together and counting." Review the symbol for adding, +. Stress "the answer is usually more than the numbers that are added." For example, 3 + 1 = 4, and 4 is more than either 3 or 1, and 2 + 6 = 8, and 8 is more than either 2 or 6. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Summary Lesson plans can include much more than indicated here. For example, materials needed, assessments, evaluation procedures, etc. The information given here is meant to be the quick and efficient, but highly effective way to develop daily lesson plans. Notice that the thinking and mental structuring parts of lesson plans are completed before the written format is begun. It is very important that the exact examples needed are actually written in the lesson plan. This is important for several reasons. Poorly selected examples and non-examples that are given to students can be confusing, and can actually lead students to false conclusions that the teacher never intended. For example, if the lesson plan given above had only these types of examples and problems for the students to do 4 + 1 =, 7 + 1 =, 5 + 1 =, etc., then some students would conclude that it is only possible to add 1 and no other number! Remember to always write the exact examples and non-examples in the lesson plan. This avoids giving students very poor examples by poor planning, and gives the teacher a quick reference whenever he(she) loses her place or train of thought of any reason.
How to Write Behavioral Objectives Behavioral objectives, learning objectives, instructional objectives, and performance objectives are terms that refer to descriptions of observable student behaviors or performance that relate to learning. At some point, almost every teacher, especially new teachers and teacher education students, must learn to write these types of objectives. Here, such objectives are referred to as behavioral objectives. Acquiring this skill is something of a rite of passage in the process of becoming a teacher, yet it is a skill that requires practice, feedback, and experience. Over the past 30 years or so, the emphasis on, and attention paid to behavioral objectives has waxed and waned as different ideas change about how best to express instructional intent. I have included a rationale for developing and using behavioral objectives that provides in-depth information. Behavioral objectives are about curriculum, not instruction. This is a key point. Many tend to confuse behavioral objectives with objectives a teacher may have that relate to student conduct or behavior in a classroom. Behavioral objectives are learning objectives; they specify what behavior a student must demonstrate or perform in order for a teacher to infer that learning took place. Since learning cannot be seen directly, teachers must make inferences about learning from evidence they can see and measure. Behavioral objectives, if constructed properly, provide an ideal vehicle for making those inferences. The purpose of a behavioral objective is to communicate. Therefore, a well-constructed behavioral objective should leave little room for doubt about what is intended. A well constructed behavioral objective describes an intended learning outcome and contains three parts, each of which alone means nothing, but when combined into a sentence or two, communicates the conditions under which the behavior is performed, a verb that defines the behavior itself, and the degree (criteria) to which a student must perform the behavior. If any one of these three components is missing, the objective cannot communicate accurately. Therefore, the parts of a behavioral objective are: 1. Conditions (a statement that describes the conditions under which the behavior is to be performed) 2. Behavioral Verb (an action word that connotes an observable student behavior) 3. Criteria (a statement that specifies how well the student must perform the behavior). A behavioral objective is the focal point of a lesson plan. It is a description of an intended learning outcome and is the basis for the rest of the lesson. It provides criteria for constructing an assessment for the lesson, as well as for the instructional procedures the teacher designs to implement the lesson. Without a behavioral objective, it is difficult, if not impossible to determine exactly what a particular lesson is supposed to accomplish. In order to write behavioral objectives, one should begin with an understanding of the particular content to which the objectives will relate. Understanding in more than one way the content to be learned should be a goal of teachers as well as students. This implies that teachers or others who prepare objectives as part of lesson plans or curriculum documents and guides should have more than superficial knowledge of the appropriate content. Writing a series of objectives that are within a body of content, but which have neither internal nor external consistency with that body of content is not a productive use of time. However, the purpose of this is not to delve into the area of curriculum consistency, but rather present some pointers to help the reader write better objectives. So, with that in mind, let's begin.
1. The Conditions The conditions part of an objective specify the circumstances, commands, materials, directions, etc., that the student is given to initiate the behavior. All behavior relevant to intended student learning outcomes can best be understood within a context of the conditions under which the behavior is to be performed or demonstrated. The conditions part of an objective usually begins with a simple declarative statement such as the following: Upon request the student will (this means the student is given an oral or written request to do something). Given (some physical object) the student will (this means the student is actually given something, such as a map, a number or multiplication problems, a literary passage, etc., that relates to performing the intended behavior). Notice that in the examples above, there is no mention of the description of the instruction that precedes the initiation of the behavior. The instruction that leads to the behavior should never be included in the actual objective. Instruction that leads students to accomplishing an objective is a separate issue. Here, we want to concentrate on describing only the conditions under which the desired student behavior is to be performed. 2. The Verb We all learned in elementary school that a verb is an action word. In a behavioral objective, the verb is also an action word, but it is also a special kind of action word. The verb in a behavioral objective is an action word that connotes an observable behavior. For example, although we as teachers all want our students to appreciate one thing or another, it is impossible to see when a student "appreciates" something. Understand is another noble word that connotes something we want our students to do, but we cannot see "understanding." The best we can do is make inferences that a student appreciates or understands something based on what the student does or says in a controlled situation. What then are behavioral verbs? The answer is quite simple. A behavioral verb is a word that denotes an observable action, or the creation of an observable product. Verbs such as identify, name, and describe are behavioral because you can observe the act or product of identifying, naming, or describing. Some verbs are embedded in a phrase that gives them a specific behavioral meaning. Examples are state a rule and apply a rule. In this case the behavior is contextual, and the context is the rule in question. There are many verbs that qualify as behavioral. For a list of these verbs, and their definitions, click here. To see examples of verbs used in language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, click here. To see some education student produced lesson plans that have behavioral verbs, click here. 3. The Criteria The criteria are a set of descriptions that describe how well the behavior must be performed to satisfy the intent of the behavioral verb. Usually, criteria are expressed in some minimum number, or as what must be, as a minimum, included in a student response. For example an objective might be of the form: Given a list of the first 100 numbers arranged in ascending order (conditions), the student will identify (verb) at least nine prime numbers (criteria). Notice that the objective doesn't specify which nine numbers, and sets a floor of at least nine as a minimum. Also, the method by which the student identifies the minimum nine prime numbers is not specified; that is determined in the actual assessment. The student could circle the numbers, highlight them, draw line through them, etc. It is also implied that the student will be correct if he identifies more than nine correctly, but does not specify whether it is acceptable to identify nine correctly and one or more incorrectly. According to the objective, it would be acceptable to circle the following numbers and still meet the intent of the objective: 1-3-5-7-11-13-17-19-23-24-26, because he got nine correct, and two (24-26) incorrect. If the
student must identify only prime numbers, then the objective would need to be modified to include that provision. Putting it all together Well-written behavioral objectives are the heart of any lesson plan. If the objectives you compose are "fuzzy" and difficult, if not impossible to measure, the rest of the lesson plan you create that is based on the objective is likely to be flawed. Before you begin to write an objective, spend a little time thinking about what you are describing, and remember to make the student behavior observable. You will find this process helps you to clarify what you intend, and you will be better able to communicate that intent to your students, regardless of their grade level, age, or subject. Any time you write a behavioral objective, ask yourself the question, "Does this objective clearly communicate and describe the intended learning outcome?" If you can find exceptions or loopholes as a way of meeting the objective, then the objective should be rewritten. Learning to write behavioral objectives that describe what you want takes patience and practice. Make sure you get as much feedback as possible about your efforts. I sincerely hope this short explanation is helpful to you. Rationale for Behavioral Objectives Part of the process becoming a professional teacher is the development of the ability to articulate to others the reasons, the "why" of what you do. This rationale for behavioral objectives or learning objectives provides an explanation for why such objectives can be an improvement over other ways of communicating instructional intent. It is somewhat heavy reading, but you might find something here that can be useful to you. A Little Background for Starters Behavioral objectives serve several instructional purposes, including the basis for lesson planning, the bane of many of those learning to be teachers. First and foremost, they clarify the intent of instruction for the teacher. By stating his objectives in behavioral terms, the teacher exercises a type of professional discipline that will aid him in focusing his attention upon that which is really the purpose of all instruction -- learning. Because learning cannot be seen directly, objectives provide a basis for making the best possible inferences about whether learning has occurred. By formulating clear objectives of instruction, the teacher stands a better chance of devising instructional strategies that will effectively lead his students to learn what he intends to have them learn. But, the usefulness of behavioral objectives learning objectives does not stop there. They also serve to clarify the purposes and intent of instruction for all who have an interest in the outcomes of instruction. Students, parents of students, principals, supervisors, school boards, college deans, and members of society at large all have some interest in instructional outcomes. Such constituents often complain that educators speak in a curious dialect known as pedagogese in response to inquiries for information, and may even claim that this is intended to deceive them. Imagine, if you will, the plight of the parents of a third grade student who was given the homework assignment, "By tomorrow, know the continents." When he asked his parents for help they were understandably stupefied. What is knowing the continents? Is it naming them? Is it ordering them from largest to smallest? Is it labeling them on an outline map? Is it naming the direction each lies from the United States? Assuming that naming the continents was all that was required, which list of names should be used? Some lists include Europe and Asia as one continent. Some list Australia separately and some include it in a complex called Oceania.
Judging from the test that the teacher gave, it turned out that what was wanted of the student was for him to list the names of the continents given in his social studies textbook. But at the beginning of his instruction he didn't know that, his parents didn't know it and maybe his teacher didn't even know it. The most dehumanizing occurrence, however, was that the student didn't know what was expected until he took the test. He knew then what was expected but it was too late. He had already failed and he was never given another chance. Then there was a student who failed a social studies test on Patrick Henry's famous "Give me liberty . . ." speech. He had been told by his teacher that he should learn several lines of the speech. The student practiced by saying it until he could recite it with gusto from memory, with the inflections and intonations he imagined the great orator must have used. But, then his teacher tested the student's learning by giving him a copy of the speech, in writing, with blank spaces appearing where certain key words were omitted. Writing the proper words in the blanks did not give the student much difficulty; he knew what they should be. But because he didn't realize he would be tested in this manner, the student had not attempted to learn the way in which the words were spelled. Consequently, he failed the test because the teacher considered each misspelled word a wrong response. It is hard to imagine a set of circumstances that would do more to convince a student that he shouldn't try to learn. A major reason for using behavioral objectives is to communicate. Any teacher should be able to communicate to his colleagues, his students, his supervisors, and the public, the intent and purpose of his instructional programs. In short, the teacher should be able to tell all who are interested what he expects his students to learn from instruction. He should be able to tell them in a way that will communicate to them in a consistent, orderly, and efficient manner. This means that the teacher must first see the ends of his own instruction. If he is going to communicate, the teacher must have something to communicate. It is probable that teachers often fail to communicate because they do not have the ends, or objectives, of their own instruction in mind. When pressured, they may state some specific objectives that they may have clearly in mind at the time they are communicating them. But it frequently happens that the intentions of today are not the intentions of tomorrow. It is easy to forget what one meant by an oral statement delivered two or three months ago, particularly when it may not have been too clear. Therefore, it is desirable to have written objectives that communicate across time as well as at a point in time. Many writers on the subject of behavioral objectives make clear the role of behavioral objectives in improving communications. Objectives stated behaviorally communicate better than non-behavioral objectives. Curriculum developers have used behavioral objectives in curriculum design, not simply as a refuge from the cloudy and extensive verbosity that has characterized many statements of educational intent, but as a means of establishing a base for planning instructional programs. They are interested in designing programs that result in the learning that they intend to occur with the students who are engaged in the programs. To design programs, to evaluate them, and to communicate with others about them, one must know more than the content to be "covered." Educators who are concerned with improving the quality of instructional programs must know specifically what the student is to do to indicate he has learned. They realize that vague terms used to explain learning do not communicate very well in their first use and lose their meaning, what little they originally possessed, over a period of time. Therefore, the need for using behavioral objectives to clarify instruction and to improve communications about instruction has become more widely accepted. But, do behaviorally stated objectives really communicate better than the more vague variety? According to Mager, a behavioral objective is composed of three parts: a statement of conditions, a behavioral verb, and criteria of performance. All three parts are essential. It is not the purpose of this to expound upon all of the techniques that are involved in writing quality behavioral objectives. One of the purposes, however, is to focus the attention of the reader upon a source of vagueness in the construction of behavioral objectives that may make them not much more meaningful than objectives stated in
non-behavioral terms. That source of vagueness grows out of the ambiguity attending the use of verbs that are not defined behaviorally. An undefined verb leaves the reader of behavioral objectives wondering whether or not the verbs are behavioral. Or, if he concludes that they are behavioral, he may wonder what specific behavior is indicated by each verb. For example, Mager says that appreciate, understand, learn, and know are non-behavioral verbs. He also says that identify is a behavioral verb. What is the difference? Can the reader of behavioral objectives be sure that identify is a behavioral verb? If it is a behavioral verb, exactly what behavior does it indicate? Without definition of any of the behavioral verbs, it is impossible for the reader of behavioral objectives that use these terms to design instructional situations, assess the progress of learners, or to communicate with others on a consistent basis. Writers of objectives who can agree on the definitions of the behavioral verbs on the ADPRIMA site will be able to communicate more effectively with one another and with other people about their objectives. By mutually agreeing to follow set definitions for behavioral verbs, persons who are concerned with the instructional process will find that their communications concerning educational outcomes will be much enhanced. Likewise, an teacher who formulates a behavioral objective will not have to figure out several months later what he meant by the behavioral verb that he used when he wrote objectives for his instruction. Let's take an example of how the use of defined verbs in the construction of behavioral objectives may improve communication concerning them, as well as add to their clarity. "Name" and "identify" are frequently used as behavioral verbs. Often they are used interchangeably. What does it mean to name? According to the definitions given for behavioral verbs, to "name" is to supply the name for something that has already been identified. To identify" is to point out something that has already been named. If the definitions are to be adhered to, these two words may not be used interchangeably in the construction of objectives. They do not mean the same thing. When a teacher asks a student, "Show me the continent of Africa on this globe," he has already supplied the name and he is asking the student to identify. When the teacher points to the continent of Africa on the globe and asks the student, "What is the name of this continent?" he has already identified the continent and is asking the student to name it. There are instances when naming is the desired behavior. There are other instances when identifying is required. And there are other instances when both naming and identifying are required in a specific sequence, but they logically cannot be used together in the same objective. If these terms were used without definition it would be impossible, first, to tell if they were indeed behavioral and, second, to determine exactly what they meant. It is possible that they would be used interchangeably. Other terms could suffer a similar fate. Definition of behavioral verbs is essential if one is going to construct objectives that are truly behavioral and that have consistent meaning for all who read them. The verbs are defined here. There are also other advantages to having behavioral verbs defined. One is that the creativity of the person formulating behavioral objectives is enhanced considerably when he has at his disposal a list of behavioral verbs that may be used to construct his objectives. There is a tendency among objective developers to latch on to only a few verbs that are used often. These verbs are used often because the objective writer, through his experience, has come to know that they have been accepted by other objective writers as behavioral verbs. He is familiar with them and he knows that others are familiar with them. He knows that if he uses a verb like "interpret" he may be open to criticism for formulating non-behavioral objectives. He therefore limits the number of verbs he uses to the few that are generally accepted as being behavioral. A list of carefully defined behavioral verbs breaks this dilemma. Access to a variety of verbs that have been defined opens many new avenues for the creative formulation of meaningful instructional objectives.
The list of defined verbs, makes it possible for those who are composing behavioral objectives to construct objectives of greater clarity, communicate more effectively, and to formulate objectives more creatively. HOW TO USE BEHAVIORAL VERB DEFINITIONS If you are planning to formulate behavioral objectives, you will find it helpful if you become thoroughly familiar with the definitions that are provided and the examples that pertain to your particular area of interest. Examples are available for English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. There are some activities that are not covered by one of the defined behavioral verbs in any of the lists. Contrary to common impressions, the important aspect of most behavioral objectives is not specific and detailed description of the exact behavior to be expected of a student when he has learned. Far more important is the description of conditions under which a class or category of behavior will occur. Very often the specific behavior for communicating learning is, by itself, unimportant. What is important is the set of circumstances that evoked the specific behavior. Hence, most of the definitions of behavioral verbs deal mainly with conditions to be established for evoking behavior, rather than dealing with the specific behavior itself. Consider the behavioral verb "identify." The definition of this verb specifies the conditions that will lead to behavior that indicates identifying. The student must be presented with the class name of an object, situation, person, etc., and then he responds by pointing out the object, situation, person, etc., through some act of behavior that is not specifically stipulated. Frequently, stipulation of detailed behavior, or products of behavior, unnecessarily limits the ability of the student to communicate his learning. To take a simple example, suppose a behavioral objective were to be constructed in the following manner. Given an outline map of the seven continents named in the geography text, the student will write the name of each continent within the outline of the continental area. There is little question that the conditions and behavior established in this objective fit the definition of "name". However, the objective specifies that the student will be able to demonstrate his ability to name the continents only by writing their names. He cannot show the achievement of this objective through any other means of communication. Even if he could orally name the continents as he points to them with his finger this would not meet the criteria of this objective. If the writing requirement were omitted from the objective, the teacher would be allowed to accept any form of communication response from the student, either written or oral, as long as the student named the continents. As a general rule, the behavioral objective would then be improved because a wider range of response would meet the criteria of the behavioral verb. Generally, it is a good practice to omit all requirements for specific forms of communication behavior, unless the objective writer has an interest in accepting only those specific forms he mentions in the objectives. In many cases, however, the writer of objectives will have no particular interest in the matter of communication form. Also, the description of conditions for each definition establishes the limits of situations that may require complicated thought processes that may be communicated through a very simple act of behavior. For example, for most eighth grade students, the act of writing or saying "Twelve hours" would be considered very simple behavior. This behavior could have many complex meanings, however, depending upon the conditions that evoked it. If the conditions were that the student was presented with a printed example as follows in Example A, the behavior would have a different meaning than it would if Example B were presented to him.
Example A Solve 7 hours + 5 hours = __________ Answer: 12 hours Example B Predict the number of daylight hours at 30 degrees N latitude on March 21 Answer: 12 hours In both of these examples the student's responses will be identical. However, they have different meanings because the conditions that evoke them differ. One is reminded of the game that children play. One child will say "No" regardless of what another child says to him. The child asking questions or making statements will try to say things that will embarrass the one who says "No" to everything. The dialog goes something like this: Question: Do you want to go out and play? Answer: No Question: Do you want to stay in and play then? Answer: No Question: Do you always say no? Answer: No Question: You aren't very smart, are you? Answer: No Question: Do you care if I punch you in the nose? Answer: No It is obvious that any specific act of behavior is important only in context of the conditions under which it occurs. Hence, definitions of behavioral verbs must deal primarily with the conditions that evoke behavior rather than be concerned only with the specific act. Anyone who is to be engaged in developing behaviorally expressed objectives should find the definitions of behavioral verbs to be extremely useful. Utilization of a four-step process of construction will increase efficiency and effectiveness with which the task is approached. If you are going to compose instructional objectives try to follow these four steps: 1. Compose a statement of what you want your students to learn. This statement can be based on a set of standards or guidelines for the state, county, or school in which you teach. Write this statement down. Select a defined behavioral verb and write a statement that will require performance that is at a level you anticipate when the students have learned. In most cases, several of the defined verbs could be used. You may want to formulate more than one statement, using a different verb in each.
For each statement set up conditions that meet the definitions of the verb used. Write a description of these conditions into each statement. Establish performance standards for each objective, allowing for a degree of possible student error that will not detract from your conclusion that he has met the objective.
To illustrate the process: 1. State a specific non-behavioral objective. I want my students to learn how the tilt of the earth on its axis and the revolution of the earth around the sun affect the length of day and night. A. Formulate statements with behavioral verbs. a. The student will describe what regulates the number of days in each year. b. The student will predict the number of daylight hours at any place on earth on any date. B. Add defined conditions to the statements with behavioral verbs. a. In response to a request to do so, the student will describe what regulates the number of days in each year. b. Given the latitude and longitude of ten points on the surface of the earth, and a different date for each, the student will predict the number of daylight hours at each point for the given date. C. Add performance standards and you will have behavioral objectives. a. In response to a request to do so, the student will describe what regulates the number of days in each year. His response will include a statement to the effect that "It takes 365 days for the earth to revolve around the sun." Erroneous or extraneous statements will cause the description to be unacceptable. D. 1). Given the latitude and longitude of ten points on the earth's surface, and a different date for each, the student will predict the number of daylight hours at each point on the given date. A response will be considered correct if it is within one-half hour of being exact. Eight or more correct responses will indicate achievement of this objective.
OBJECTIVES REQUIRING COMPLEX BEHAVIOR More than a quarter century ago, the educational cauldron became considerably stirred up when Benjamin Bloom and others published their Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Cognitive Domain. Since that time, a number of other taxonomies have appeared. It has become fashionable for some educators to attempt to link the various taxonomies with the desirability of writing instructional objectives in behavioral terms, by reasoning that objectives stated in behavioral terms are better than non-behavioral objectives. The taxonomies may also be used to classify "better" objectives. Therefore, it is concluded, the two are inseparably related to one another. However, taxonomies of educational objectives do not help to compose objectives that are behavioral. They may call attention to the content of some types of objectives that could be formulated, but that is about all. In other words, taxonomies might help you make up your mind about WHAT you want your students to learn. But, a person can know what he wants his students to learn and compose perfectly good behavioral objectives without even knowing what the word taxonomy means. The important thing is that he knows what he wants his students to learn so that he will be able to devise instructional strategies, and will be able to tell when his students have learned. These skills will make almost any teacher a better teacher. It is true, however, that some of the verbs in the definitions lend themselves more than others to the composition of objectives that require complex thought process on the part of students. When a teacher first starts to compose behavioral objectives, if he is typical he will use the verbs "name" and "identify" almost exclusively. This will happen, for a number of reasons, but foremost among them is that many, if not most, current objectives of instruction call for these behaviors. Because most teachers are familiar with them already, there is a tendency to use them in first attempts at writing behavioral objectives. As proficiency is gained in the techniques of composing behavioral objectives, attention will turn toward evaluating the quality of their content. Most teachers will find that some of the objectives they first composed do not seem to be as important as they once thought, and they will try to formulate better ones. Sometimes teachers who state their objective in behavioral terms are criticized by their fellow educators who do not think that the objectives are important enough. One shouldn't be surprised, however, to find that the critics are unable to compose any behavioral objective, let alone an important one. So, here are some hints on how objectives that call for complex student behavior might be developed. 1. State in specific non-behavioral terms what the students are to learn This step is required for writing any behavioral objective. 2. Select a behavioral verb that will require complex behavior and write it into the objective as described in the second step given earlier. Choose from the following categories. Most Complex Complex Least Complex Indeterminate apply a rule classify distinguish compose define demonstrate identify construct describe diagram measure label interpret estimate name read predict evaluate order solve locate state a rule translate
These classifications are somewhat arbitrary, so it is not guaranteed that objectives requiring only complex behavior will result from the use of verbs in the "most complex" class. However, if conditions are set up for the objectives as specified in the definitions it is probable that they will require complex behavior. Those verbs in the indeterminate column may or may not require complex behavior, depending upon the conditions that are established. 3. Now complete the objectives as described in steps 3 and 4 described earlier. 4. Compose additional, less complex objectives that lead to performance of the complex objectives. Each complex behavior requires the simultaneous performance of many behaviors that are less complex if performed singly. As a person applies a rule, for example, he needs to have prior knowledge of the rule, or rules that might apply under the given conditions. Usually, these complex behaviors are best learned singly. Therefore, the fourth step is to analyze each complex objective to determine what less complex behaviors are contained within it. Compose one or more behavioral objectives for each one that is identified. Several less complex objectives all leading to a complex objective will result. All will be essential, even if some people may say that only the most complex are important.
Definitions of Behavioral Verbs Behavioral verbs are the heart of learning objectives and lesson plans. They are, if used effectively, the best way to indicate, and communicate to others, specific, observable student behavior. Behavioral verbs describe an observable product or action. Inferences about student learning can be made on the basis of what a student does or produces. The following verbs and their definitions can be helpful when composing behavioral objectives. These are general definitions that describe only the observable behavior and do not include linkages to any specific content. These definitions are provided for those who seek a basis for a technical vocabulary regarding student performance. To see examples of these verbs used in specific content areas, click here.
APPLY A RULE: To state a rule as it applies to a situation, object or event that is being analyzed. The statement must convey analysis of a problem situation and/or its solution, together with the name or statement of the rule that was applied. CLASSIFY: To place objects, words, or situations into categories according to defined criteria for each category. The criteria must be made known to the student. COMPOSE: To formulate a composition in written, spoken, musical or artistic form. CONSTRUCT: To make a drawing, structure, or model that identifies a designated object or set of conditions. DEFINE: To stipulate the requirements for inclusion of an object, word, or situation in a category or class. Elements of one or both of the following must be included: (1) The characteristics of the words, objects, or situations that are included in the class or category. (2) The characteristics of the words, objects, or situations that are excluded in the class or category. To define is to set up criteria for classification. DEMONSTRATE: The student performs the operations necessary for the application of an instrument, model, device, or implement. NOTE: There is a temptation to use demonstrate in objectives such as, "the student will demonstrate his knowledge of vowel sounds." As the verb is defined, this is improper use of it. DESCRIBE: To name all of the necessary categories of objects, object properties, or event properties that are relevant to the description of a designated situation. The objective is of the form, "The student will describe this order, object, or event," and does not limit the categories that may be used in mentioning them. Specific or categorical limitations, if any, are to be given in the performance standards of each objective. DIAGRAM: To construct a drawing with labels and with a specified organization or structure to demonstrate knowledge of that organization or structure. Graphic charting and mapping are types of diagramming, and these terms may be used where more exact communication of the structure of the situation and response is desired. DISTINGUISH: To identify under conditions when only two contrasting identifications are involved for each response. ESTIMATE: To assess the dimension of an object, series of objects, event or condition without applying a standard scale or measuring device. Logical techniques of estimation, such as are involved in mathematical interpolation, may be used. See MEASURE. EVALUATE: To classify objects, situations, people, conditions, etc., according to defined criteria of quality. Indication of quality must be given in the defined criteria of each class category. Evaluation differs from general classification only in this respect.
IDENTIFY: To indicate the selection of an object of a class in response to its class name, by pointing, picking up, underlining, marking, or other responses. INTERPRET: To translate information from observation, charts, tables, graphs, and written material in a verifiable manner. LABEL: To stipulate a verbal (oral or written) response to a given object, drawing, or composition that contains information relative to the known, but unspecified structure of these objects, drawings, or compositions. Labeling is a complex behavior that contains elements of naming and identifying. LOCATE: To stipulate the position of an object, place, or event in relation to other specified objects, places, or events. Ideational guides to location such as grids, order arrangements and time may be used to describe location. Note: Locate is not to be confused with IDENTIFY. MEASURE: To apply a standard scale or measuring device to an object, series of objects, events, or conditions, according to practices accepted by those who are skilled in the use of the device or scale. NAME: To supply the correct name, in oral or written form for an object, class of objects, persons, places, conditions, or events which are pointed out or described. ORDER: To arrange two or more objects or events in accordance with stated criteria. PREDICT: To use a rule or principle to predict an outcome or to infer some consequence. It is not necessary that the rule or principle be stated. REPRODUCE: To imitate or copy an action, construction, or object that is presented. SOLVE: To effect a solution to a given problem, in writing or orally. The problem solution must contain all the elements required for the requested solution, and may contain extraneous elements that are not required for solution. The problem must be posed in such a way that the student that the student is able to determine the type of response that is acceptable. STATE A RULE: To make a statement that conveys the meaning of the rule, theory or principle. TRANSLATE: To transcribe one symbolic form to another of the same or similar meaning.
LESSON PLANNING IDEAS Considerations for Instructional Procedures Usually, lesson planning is taught in schools of education as a skill that involves developing an objective based on a curriculum and then sequencing a number of activities in which the teacher and students interact in some way. Following this interaction, there is an assessment and the next lesson in the unit or other sequence that follows a curricular structure begins. There are, however, some variables that relate to the instructional activities that should be considered. What follows is a brief description of some of them. Any planned instructional procedure or teaching method for a particular lesson should also address the following questions: Does it permit adjustment for students with different abilities? There probably has never been a teacher who has a class of students whose members were of equal ability. The instructional method(s) planned for a particular lesson must take into account student ability. The range of abilities in which students differ is truly staggering. Included are cognitive disorders, emotional handicaps, physical handicaps, and student mastery of appropriate prerequisites for any given lesson. It's a load to factor all this in, but as a lesson planer, you should at least have a serious awareness of this. Does it encourage the students to become continually involved in learning activities? Instructional activities or procedures should not be static descriptions of what the teacher and students will do. Any good teacher will tell you that he or she makes adjustments in instruction based on feedback from students. The idea is obviously to keep students focused and involved in learning. For students to be continually involved in learning activities will require resourcefulness on the part of the teacher, but it is a consideration important to planning any lesson. Does it provide for adequate coverage of the content to be learned for all students? "Adequate" and "cover" are such weasel terms. They can mean almost anything, depending on whom you ask. Probably the best way to think about this is to say to yourself, "what is the least amount of content that students should learn to indicate some level of agreed upon mastery?" Notice the operative word is "learn." If you've thought about what you're doing, you will have specified this level of learning in the criterion statement of the lesson objective. Does it permit for monitoring of student progress? You should consider how you will monitor the progress of your students during the lesson itself. There are ways to this, and these ways are collectively referred to in education jargon as formative evaluation. All this means is that you must determine how you will monitor the progress of your students. The purpose of this monitoring is not just to collect information about student progress. Rather, it is to have ways in mind about how to use this information to make instant changes in lesson procedures. If you consider a lesson as a collection of discrete activities that are sequenced in some responsible way, then each activity has a beginning and an end. The ends may be thought of as events, and it is here that meaningful information about student progress may be derived. The events are "milestones" on the path toward the lesson objective. Information about how your students are progressing may indicate that some reconsolidation and reordering of the sequence of the milestones is warranted.
Does it provide for adequate assistance for students who do not learn from the initial procedure? If only everyone "got it" right the first time! The reality is that almost no lesson is 100% reliable. That means some students will fall behind. They "won't get it," and you need to think about what to do about that. The problem is compounded because you are confronted with the real problem of what to do with the students who did "get it" while you are attending to those who didn't. Usual pedagogical thinking suggests that the "got it" students can be given some ancillary work, or some enrichment materials while you work with the students who need your help. Maybe, but just be aware that this will start to wear thin after a few lessons. This is one of the eternal problems in teaching, and it has really not been solved to anyone's satisfaction. Does it provide adequate practice to permit consolidation and integration of skills? Vince Lombardi, the legendary former coach of the Green Bay Packers, is reputed to have said, "Practice does not make perfect. perfect practice makes perfect." Of course he was talking about skills related to playing football. The operative word here is skills. There is no substitute for developing and honing skills other than practice. That always means, in a practical sense, that there is a skilled observer of the practice who can provide feedback to the learner. It is true in every field where skills are taught n some formal way. The quality of the practice, and just as important, the quality of the feedback to the learner are indispensable. Skills are one thing, but what about conceptual learning? What about understandings we want our students to acquire? Is there any way to practice developing concepts? This is a thorny question. since concepts are unique to the individual forming them, it is difficult to "practice" doing this. Probably the best a teacher can do is have students explain in more than what they know. Therefore, conceptual learning is incompatible with multiple choice tests. The preceding descriptions are opinions. They are not truth. Anyone planning a lesson should at least keep in mind the posed questions. Answering them for each lesson can improve instruction.
How to Write an Assessment Based on an Objective Whenever a teacher guides instruction toward a specific learning objective, it is safe to assume that there will be, at some appropriate point, an appraisal made to determine whether the students have met or achieved the intent of the objective. If there is no appraisal contemplated or made before instruction proceeds to the next lesson, then there is no rational basis for judging anything. Objectives, by their very nature, imply there will be an assessment specifically designed to determine whether the learners have actually learned what was intended. To even begin to plan, design, and construct assessments based on specific learning objectives, it is absolutely necessary to be very clear about what the actual behavior in the objective means. Often times, definitions of education-oriented words can be fleeting, fuzzy, and even frivolous. If we are to actually become professionals, and be perceived as such by our clients, we must have something that approaches a professional vocabulary. Toward that end, I have provided definitions and examples for the verbs used in objectives. While not all may agree with these definitions, I believe they can provide a basis for further work and study in this area. To create an assessment for a particular objective may require nothing more than to write a description of the conditions and procedure. For example, if an objective was of the form, "upon request, the student will name at least three of the seven wonders of the ancient world," the assessment would be pretty straightforward. In this case, a description such as the following would suffice. The teacher will have the students take out a sheet of blank paper. When all students have done so, the teacher says, "write the names of at least three wonders of the ancient world on your paper." That description satisfies the intent of the objective. The objective does not specify a time limit; that is left to the discretion of the teacher who uses reasonable and professional judgment. Notice also that the objective states "at least three" wonders of the ancient world. A student who names all seven has met the objective in the same way as a student who names but three. The objective DOES NOT specify whether extraneous names are acceptable; therefore, a student could satisfy the objective by naming three wonders of the ancient world AND the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is certainly not a wonder of the ancient world, but the objective left that possibility open. The point here is that an assessment is only as good as the objective upon which it is based. An objective may be written in such a way as to imply a certain form of assessment, but for which several valid interpretations are possible. For example, an objective could state, "Given twenty statement stems about World War II, with four possible completions for each, only one of which is correct, the student will identify the correct completion for at least fifteen of the statements." Obviously, a teacher could construct any number of multiple-choice tests that satisfy this objective. Here, the uncertainty is in what "twenty statements about World War II" actually means. Professional discretion plays a key role in formulating assessments where there are multiple possibilities for correctly responding in a manner that satisfies the intent expressed in the objective. Each semester, I require students in my social studies methods classes to write lesson plans. In the format used for the plan, is the requirement for specification of an objective and an assessment. The directions specify that they are to write an assessment description that indicates how the teacher will actually determine whether the behavior specified in the objective was demonstrated. I tell them there must be as nearly perfect correspondence between the objective and the assessment as possible. I tell them that these two parts of the lesson plan have to be in synchronization, that the assessment must specify nothing less or nothing more than the behavior implied by the verb of the objective. This concept is perhaps one of the most difficult for students to understand. For example, often times students will write a perfectly good objective, and later on in the lesson plan specify an assessment that has little, if anything, to do with it. "Describe" is a good behavioral verb. It can be used in a variety of ways to elicit behavior that is both meaningful and complex. I have seen this verb used appropriately in hundreds of objectives and lesson plans. Many times, however, students use describe in an objective, and then in the assessment description have the students take a multiple choice test. Somewhere in this sequence of events, a disconnect has occurred.
Portfolios and other forms of alternate assessment have achieved considerable attention as a way of offering students a different means for demonstrating learning. Any form of assessment, including portfolios, projects, examinations, demonstrations, constructions, oral responses, written responses, compositions, and so on are only as valid as the objectives upon which they are based. Poorly written, fuzzy objectives contribute little to our ability to communicate with one another as professionals, and even worse, have negative implications for our relations with the constituents of the education process, including parents, administrators, politicians, and taxpayers. A word about rubrics. A rubric is a basically a description of a scoring model or schema for a particular objective. It defines for both the teacher and student what comprises an acceptable range of performance. Again, any "rubric" is no more valid than the objective upon which it is based. If writers of objectives are conscientious, they construct the objectives in such a way that the appraisal of the behavior is unambiguous. This means they are very careful to define the criteria part of the objective in such a way that varying interpretations are limited. In this sense, if an objective specifies a "floor" of behavior from which learning may be inferred, then performance above the "floor" may be categorized according to some legitimate model for the purpose of assigning grades. That is a context for the idea of rubrics. Formulating worthwhile objectives that communicate clearly is not easy. Formulating assessments that actually measure the behavior of objectives is equally hard. The process requires thinking and commitment. It can be excruciating and frustrating, but ultimately liberating. It is much more than putting words on paper. It goes beyond being satisfied with the illusion of learning to the heart of the matter, which is meaningful learning. There is no magic formula for doing this. What is required is what is usually required for those things in life that are hard -- dedication, perseverance, brains, and a little luck.
Examples of Behavioral Verbs and Student Activities The following examples of student activities are meant to illustrate the uses of the defined behavioral verbs in several subject areas. Although these examples could be turned into behavioral objectives rather easily, they are not objectives. They are missing one component. Most of the examples contain descriptions of student behavior and the general conditions under which it occurs. Both of these are required for the interpretation of student behavior. However, none contains criteria of acceptable performance, the third segment of a behavioral objective. The purpose of these examples is to clarify the meaning of the definitions of behavioral verbs. With a clear knowledge of the meaning of these verbs, a person should be able to classify the learning behavior of any student he observes, whether or not he knows the learning objective. For example, a person who observes a student pointing out on a chart of atomic diagrams, the diagrams which represent elements named by the teacher, will be able to classify the learning as identifying. Be sure to also see the generic definitions of the verbs, as they will help you put the examples below in the proper context. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Examples of Activities: English Language Arts Apply a Rule. In response to the question, "Is cttn an English word?" the student would reply, "No, because it has no vowels. All English words must have at least one vowel." Classify. The student could be asked to classify the words of given sentences into categories of parts of speech. He could be asked to literary forms according to style (novel, drama, poetry, etc.). Compose. The student could be asked to compose a limerick. Construct. From the description provided in the text, the student could be asked to construct a model of the frontier settlement described in Singing Wheels, fourth level reader. Define. The student could be given a number of words and be asked to figure out ways that similar words could be grouped. His response might include statements such as, "The words that tell about color could be put into one group. Those that tell about the feelings of people could be put into another group. Those that don't ell about anything could be put in another group. NOTE: Defining is not memorizing and writing definitions written by someone else - it is creating definitions. Demonstrate. The student could be asked to demonstrate with a percussion instrument, the rhythm (meter) of a poem by Edgar Allen Poe. Describe. The student could be asked to describe the procedures of a formal debate. Diagram. The student could be asked to diagram the stage settings for Man and Superman by G.B. Shaw. Distinguish. Given a list of pairs of nouns and pronouns, the student could be asked to distinguish between the two. Estimate. The student could be asked to estimate, within twenty-five pages, the page number where any given word would be found in a 475 page dictionary.
Identify. The student could be asked to identify all the consonants in the alphabet. He could be asked to identify a sonnet from among several examples of poetry. Interpret. The student could be asked to interpret any passage of literature that is given to him. Locate. The student could be asked to locate, in time, the English Romantic Period. Name. The student could be asked to name the parts of speech. He could be asked to name five authors of the Early American Period. He could be asked to name three literary works of Americans who are also Black. Order. Given a series of scrambled paragraphs, the student could be asked to order them to conform with short essay style. State a Rule. the student could be asked to state a rule covering the use of "ei", "ie" combinations in the spelling of words. Translate. Given a passage from a Shakespeare play, the student could be asked to translate it into modern American English. Examples of Activities: Science Apply a Rule: The student could be asked to explain why a shotgun "kicks" when fired. His response would include a statement to the effect that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction (Newton's Law of Motion), and that the "kick" of the shotgun is equal to the force propelling the shot toward its target. The faster the shot travels and the greater the weight of the shot, the greater the "kick" of the gun. Classify: Given several examples of each, the student could be asked to classify materials according to their physical properties as gas, liquid, or solid. Construct: The student could be asked to construct a model of a carbon atom. Define: Given several types of plant leaves, the student could be asked to define at least three categories for classifying them. NOTE: Defining is not memorizing and writing definitions created by someone else -- it is creating definitions. Demonstrate: Given a model of the earth, sun, and moon so devised that it may be manipulated to show the orbits of the earth and moon, the student could be asked to demonstrate the cause of various phases of the moon as viewed from earth. Describe: The student could be asked to describe the conditions essential for a balanced aquarium that includes four goldfish. Diagram: The student could be asked to diagram the life cycle of a grasshopper. Distinguish: Given a list of paired element names, the student could be asked to distinguish between the metallic and non-metallic element in each pair. Estimate: The student could be asked to estimate the amount of heat given off by one liter of air compressed to one-half its original volume.
Evaluate: Given several types of materials, the student could be asked to evaluate them to determine which is the best conductor of electricity. Identify: Given several types of materials, the student could be asked to identify those which would be attracted to a magnet. Interpret: The student could be asked to interpret a weather map taken from a newspaper. Locate: The student could be asked to locate the position of chlorine on the periodic table. NOTE: To locate is to describe location. It is not identification of location. Measure: Given a container graduated in cubic centimeters, the student could be asked to measure a specific amount of liquid. Name: The student could be asked to name the parts of an electromagnet. Order: The student could be asked to order a number of animal life forms according to their normal length of life. Predict: From a description of the climate and soils of an area, the student could be asked to predict the plant ecology of the area. Solve: The student could be asked to solve the following: How many grams of H2O will be formed by the complete combustion of one liter of hydrogen at 70 degrees C? State a Rule: The student could be asked to state a rule that tell what form the offspring of mammals will be, i.e. they will be very similar to their parent organisms. Translate: The student could be asked to translate 93,000,000 into standard scientific notation.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Examples of Activities: Mathematics Apply a Rule: Given a pair of equations such as 2 + 4 + 7 = 13, and 7 + 2 + 4 = ___, the student could be asked to apply a rule that would give him the solution to the second equation of the pair without adding the factors. His response should include a statement to the effect that the same numbers are to be added in each equation, but in different order (analysis) and that the order of addition makes no difference in the solution of the equations. Therefore, the sum of both equations is the same. Classify: Given a series of numbers drawn at random from 1 - 1000, the student could be asked to classify them into categories of even divisibility by 2, 3, 4, and so on. Construct: Given a straight edge, compass, and paper, the student could be asked to construct an equilateral triangle. Define: Given an assortment of various kinds of coins, the student could be asked to define some categories into which the coins could be classified. His response would include definitions such as, "All of the pennies, all of the nickels, all of the dimes, etc., could be put in separate piles. Or all the coins containing silver could be put in one pile and those that don't into another pile."
Demonstrate: Given a sufficient number of concrete objects and an equation such as 3 x 4 = 12, the student could be asked to use the objects to demonstrate that multiplication is repeated addition. His response would include placement of twelve objects in three groups of four each, or four groups of three each. He may also be asked to describe how the demonstrations show repeated addition. Describe: The student could be asked to describe a method of determining a number of groups of five objects in a collection of 45 objects. The response would include a statement that groups of five members would be counted out and then the number of groups could be counted. The student may also be asked to demonstrate the process he described. Diagram: The student could be asked to graph the equation y = 2x2 - x + 3. Distinguish: Given pairs of numbers, one number of each pair a prime number, the student could be asked to identify the prime number in each pair. Estimate: Given multiplication examples with three-digit numerals in both the multiplier and multiplicand, the student estimates the products to the nearest thousand. Identify: The student could be asked to point to the numeral ninety-four on a numeration chart. Interpret: Given a bar graph showing the per unit cost of food products when purchased in various size packages, the student interprets it by stating the lowest and highest per unit cost and by describing the relationship between increased package size and per unit cost of the product. Locate: The student could be asked to locate a particular desk in his classroom by stating the row it is in and the ordinal position from the front of the room. "John's desk is the fourth one from the front, in the second row, from the east wall." Name: What is the name of this collection of objects? Answer: "A set." What is the name of this type of equation? Answer: "A quadratic equation." Order: Given a number of objects of different lengths, the student orders them from lesser to greater length. Predict: The student could be asked to predict the next term in an increasing arithmetic series such as 2, 5, 9, 14 ____. Solve: The student could be asked to solve the following: 2 + 3 = ____. In this example, the type of operation is clearly indicated. Or, he could be asked to solve the following: "Jimmy, John, Bill, and Sam each had three marbles. John gave Bill two of his marbles. How many marbles did Jimmy and Sam have together then?" In this example, the operation to be performed is not specified, and extraneous factors are introduced. State a Rule: In response to the question: "Why is the sum of two numbers no different if the order of adding them is reversed?" The student answers: "Because of the commutative principle," or "Because the order makes no difference in addition." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Examples of Activities: Social Studies
Apply a Rule: Given population data that illustrates the principle that the standard of living decreases if population increases without corresponding increase in production, the student could be asked to analyze the data to tell and tell how he is able to determine what effects changing population will have upon the standard of living. Classify: Given photographs of various people and definitions of racial classes, the student could be asked to classify the photographs according to the races of the people portrayed. Construct: Given appropriate materials, the student could be asked to construct a model of a city water system. Define: Given a filmed or taped situation in which several forms of communication are portrayed, the student could be asked to define several categories of communication. His response could include definitions for verbal, non-verbal, pictorial, visual, auditory, or any of several other classes or categories of communication. Demonstrate: The student could be asked to demonstrate the use of calipers to determine the measurements for obtaining cephalic indices. Or he could be asked to demonstrate use of a compass to determine direction. Describe: The student could be asked to describe the culture of a particular Indian tribe. Diagram: The student could be asked to diagram the steps involved in the passage of a bill though the legislature. Distinguish: Given the names of ancient Greek and Roman gods paired according to function, the student could be asked to distinguish between them. Estimate: Given the day of the year and the latitude, the student could be asked to estimate the length of daylight at a particular place. Identify: Given the name of one of the U.S. presidents, and photographs of several, the student could be asked to identify the picture of the one which was named. Interpret: Given a bar graph that shows production of steel in the U.S. during the last fifty years, the student could be asked to interpret the graph. His response could include references to times of production increases or decreases, total amount of decreases or increases, and differences in production between the years. Label: The student could be given an outline map of a country and be asked to label the major cities and rivers. Locate: The student could be asked to locate, in time, the first battle of the American Revolution. Measure: Given a string and a globe with a scale of miles, the student could be asked to measure the scaled distance between any two given points. Name: The student could be asked to name the factors that contribute to natural population increases. Order: Given the names of the declared wars in which the U.S. has engaged, the student could be asked to order them according to the time of occurrence. Predict: The student could be asked to predict the type of economy that could be supported in described geographic regions.
Solve: Given tables of prices and costs, the student could be asked to solve problems related to the law of diminishing returns. State a Rule: In response to the question: "What controlled the inheritance of family property in the European Middle Ages?" the student would respond with a statement that indicated that property was inherited by the eldest son.
Lesson Design and Performance Models ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dr. Madeline Hunter's research showed effective teachers have a methodology when planning and presenting a lesson. Hunter found that no matter what the teacher's style, grade level, subject matter, or economic background of the students a properly taught lesson contained eight elements that enhanced and maximized learning. She labeled the elements and began two decades of teacher training. The elements, referred to as Lesson Design, Target Teaching, or Clinical Teaching, have stood the test of time - still used today in most teacher colleges and as reference for judging teacher effectiveness in many school districts. Within each element of Lesson Design, there are many sub-skills, methods, and techniques - each demanding training, practice, and review in order to attain mastery of the Hunter model. Knowing about or reading about Lesson Design will not likely produce flawless performance. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Lesson Design 1) Anticipatory Set (focus) - A short activity or prompt that focuses the students' attention before the actual lesson begins. Used when students enter the room or in a transition. A hand-out given to students at the door, review question written on the board, "two problems" on the overhead are examples of AS. 2) Purpose (objective) - The purpose of today's lesson, why the students need to learn it, what they will be able to "do", and how they will show learning as a result are made clear by the teacher. 3) Input - The vocabulary, skills, and concepts the teacher will impart to the students - the "stuff" the kids need to know in order to be successful. 4) Modeling (show) - The teacher shows in graphic form or demonstrates what the finsihed product looks like a picture worth a thousand words. 5) Guided Practice (follow me) - The teacher leads the students through the steps necessary to perform the skill using the trimodal approach - hear/see/do. 6) Checking For Understanding (CFU) - The teacher uses a variety of questioning strategies to determine "Got it yet?" and to pace the lesson - move forward?/back up? 7) Independent Practice - The teacher releases students to practice on their own based on #3-#6. 8) Closure - A review or wrap-up of the lesson - "Tell me/show me what you have learned today".
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Performance Models Performance Models (Fred Jones, Positive Classroom Instruction) can be divided into three categories: 1) Illustrated Performance Sequences, 2) Performance Outlines, 3) Conceptual Maps. They are visual representations, written or in graphic form, that show the steps to complete a skill or clarify a concept. When used in conjunction with verbal (hear) and kinetic (do) input during a formal lesson, performance models help to insure outcome-based performance. A Performance Model should be introduced before students are released for independent practice. It tends to work best when introducing a critical skill that other skills will build upon, or a skill that has many steps that can cause cognitive overload.
Performance Model: Task Analysis During the planning of a formal lesson, teachers should consider putting themselves in the place of the learner and perform the skill or attain the concept while asking themselves, "What exactly are the steps necessary to complete this skill or understand this concept?". Approaching task analysis from the learner's perspective -say a confused student - will help to analyze the subtle steps that may seem obvious to one who already understands but leave gaps for someone in need of clarity. A Performance Model, then, becomes an illustration of each step helping to clarify for the student, "Oh, this is what this step looks like". Some teachers will teach a skill from start to finish while the students watch and listen. Modeling a "finished product" is an element of lesson design that is commonplace in formal instruction. If the finished product is the only model for reference, students may ask during independent seatwork, "Gee, I forgot step four. Can you show me again?" The teacher is then drawn into individual helping interactions to clarify steps that the students have forgotten. On the other hand, if a Performance Model is used to illustrate each step which the students copy and keep at their desks, the teacher can merely point to step three (the last step the student did correctly) and say, "You did step three correctly (praise). You're on step four (point). Do that and I'll come back and check it (prompt-leave)". The student has a "visual" reminder of what the steps look like versus trying to reproduce the steps from memory.
Lesson Design: A New Element Dr. Fred Jones has tacked on a new element to Lesson Design that helps to ensure greater learning. Students may be able to "do" many skills, but optimum learning has not taken place until they can self-correct and discriminate error. If a sudent can process the steps to perform a skill, teach these steps to someone else while recognizing errors, then more cognitive thinking and understanding have taken place. Teach Your Partner After guided practice and before independent practice, the element, Teach Your Partner, can be added to Lesson Design to increase understanding. Procedure: 1) 2) Count off the class ones and twos - partners. Using a Performance Model which the kids have copied (or dittoed), the ones will teach the twos Step 1, then the twos teach the ones the same step. The teacher will model the teaching method first with a volunteer, keeping verbiage (hear) to a minimum while pointing (see and do) to the Step on the Model. The student, then, repeats the EXACT words while pointing and teaches the teacher. This continues until the student has it exactly right. The teacher chooses two student volunteers (partners) to model, again using the exact words while pointing to Step 1 until they get it right. The teacher tells the ones to "teach" the twos Step 1 and circulates among the groups, stopping to monitor and correct - the whole class should have it - if not, stop and reteach. Next, the twos teach the ones. The volunteer group can help to monitor other groups. This procedure continues for each Step of the Model.
Teach Your Partner is best used for "critical lessons" - those which students must understand in order to move on to other lessons in the same area - say the steps involved in long division or the pre-writing steps in composition. The Models can be saved by students as a reference and taken home for help with homework.