FOCUS ON LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Our nascent Reflective Practice Group gathered for the second time on Sunday, July 12th  During the first half, we worked on Learning Objectives, which was a topic several people had requested in the survey last month.  Everyone there was already a big believer in using learning objectives.  As an exercise, pairs came up with learning objectives for the Korean numbers lesson we’d had at the previous meeting, and they were all good at articulating objectives that are SMARTA (Specific, Measurable/Observable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound and Adjustable).

We focused on making objectives Specific and Measurable, and distinguished between verbs that do or don’t meet those criteria.  For example, an objective might begin this way:

“By the end of the lesson, students will be able to (categorize, list, order, write, tell, identify)…… 

but not:   

learn, understand, realize, know  

because there is no measurable/observable way for the teacher to assess whether someone understands or knows something.  At least not until they demonstrate their understanding by categorizing, listing, writing, etc.

We also took some time to discuss some of our objective-related questions and issues, including setting objectives for multi-level classes, differentiating between course goals and lesson objectives, and looking at long-term and short-term learning objectives. (If they’ve “learned” something by the end of the lesson, do they still know it the following week?)

Next, we reviewed the components of the Experiential Learning Cycle (ELC) and reconstructed a sample ELC Reflection, focusing on how this kind of reflection is evidence-based, the evidence being in the initial Description of what happened during the lesson.  The Analysis and Action Plans are all based on that evidence.

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REFLECTING ON OUR OWN LESSONS

Then, we broke into pairs, and each of us developed a personal reflection on a small “slice” of one of our own recent lessons, focusing on the final 15-20 minutes (because our theme was Learning Objectives, and we usually expect to meet the objectives at the end of the lesson.)  After drafting each section, we shared with our partners.  Everyone came up with multiple interpretations about their lessons, and based on that analysis, we developed personal action plans for when we teach in the future.

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All agreed that this reflecting on one’s own lesson with a partner had been fruitful!

MORE REFLECTION, OF COURSE!

We finished with a bit of reflection on what we found most meaningful about the evening’s activities, and what we still had questions about.

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I’m headed to Korea to train Korean English teachers for six weeks. While there, I’ll attend a local Reflective Practice group that a friend and colleague, Josette LeBlanc, has been coordinating in Daegu for four years.  Would you believe the topic of the Daegu session will be What to do when learning objectives aren’t met?  Maybe that will be Part 2 of our Bay Area RPG’s Learning Objectives focus. And we’ll take the high-speed train to Seoul for an entire “Day of Reflection,” Hopefully, I’ll come back inspired and full of good ideas to share when we gather again!