Several years ago, I was conferencing with a teacher. She said that she did not have enough time to do all the activities she had for her unit. In fact she had a wonderful new activity she wanted to add to to the unit plan. I stopped her and asked, “What is your Objective?” She then told me what the objective was for that unit and I asked if all the activities were necessary to address the objective. That made her pause for a moment and she answered ‘but all the activities are so fun.’ We then looked at all the activities and decided which ones directly moved the students towards mastering the objective, which allowed for addressing differentiated learning styles, and which gave the opportunity for critical thinking. After this joint review, the teacher had a more manageable and effective set of learning opportunities for this objective. Further, we had identified which of the discarded activities could replace a chosen one in the future for variety (for the teacher).
As I write this post, I reminded myself of a similar post I have written entitled Intentions, http://edtechease.com/index.php/blog/intentions. In that post, I was more focused on the too frequent use of technology for tech’s sake. I was encouraging educators to decide on their learning objectives and integrate technology resources that align with the objectives. Recently at a Teacher Innovation Day I led, the teachers and I discussed this idea relating it to the SAMR Framework (substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition) of technology integration. It was a wonderful discussion involving the teachers looking at their own tech integrated lessons and how these fit into the SAMR Framework. Yet, one teacher then told me that she had changed how she wanted to culminate an upcoming unit with students creating a diorama. But she was also going to have them video themselves explaining each panel of the diorama. I asked her why the video, and she said it was because she wanted to integrate technology. We discussed how a diorama and a video could both be a culminating presentation that can assess their understanding of the unit. Having the students do both is an example of tech for tech’s sake. She came to the conclusion that she would have the students do one presentation method for this unit and the other for the next, to give the students a variety of strategies for demonstrating their learning. She took it a step further saying that their next teachers could have the students choose which presentation method to use since they would have been introduced to several.
When you begin planning with an objective in mind, you then have the ability to differentiate for your students’ needs. You can identify ways to address their academic differences, their social-emotional readiness, and even how to include their interests into the plan. An objective lets you decide what content and how much content to introduce. An objective will guide you incorporating varying teaching styles to adjust to learning styles. Without an objective, there can be no adjustments to the lessons as these lessons are just activities with no framework.
Starting with the objective should be the guiding force behind unit and lesson planning. How that objective will be met by the students is then decided by choosing the most effective, appropriate resources and activities. Reach out with your thoughts via Twitter (@edtechease) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/edtechease/) or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally posted on Wednesday, 07 November 2018.