TMNE10: Objectivity

The Game

Context: Teachmeet Northeast took place on Thursday 9th December. Each day I’m blogging about one thing I learned at the event.

I didn’t catch the name of the presenter for this one, but we had a 2 minute nano presentation on learning objectives and the idea that we really do it back to front. My learning objectives are always written;

  • What:
  • How:
  • Why:

This, to me, has made sense. It’s not had the jargon factor with WILTS and other acronyms and it is simple to put together when planning a lesson.

It’s an interesting thought, though, that I might have it bass ackwards. I taught a lesson today in which I used the same headings but in reverse.

First, I considered WHY we were doing this lesson. Why had I built the lesson plan the way I had? What was the point? In this case it was because problem solving in a fun way leads us nicely into thinking about algorithms and how to program computers, but that’s almost incidental to the blog post.

Next, I wrote down HOW we were going to do it. By what mechanism. This answer was very similar to the ‘how’ had I written the objectives the other way around – by using a game called Light Bot 2.

Finally I wrote WHAT we were going to do – in this case solving problems using loops.

It took me a while to appreciate this way of thinking. It’s easy to simply write the objectives as normal and then flip them, but that kind of misses the point. The point is to think about WHY you’re doing the lesson. This lesson. Right now. That should be the fundamental crux of the lesson. You build the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ around that. If you start with the ‘what’ at the centre then you’re not teaching skills, you’re just completing an activity. Tail wagging the dog. You can pick your own cliché.

Equally I think this is important for the students. They will often turn up and ask ‘What are we doing today?’. Really they should be asking ‘Why are we doing this lesson?’ and only then trying to work out how to get there.

I think there’s a pretty strong argument in there. And I might try rewriting my objectives this way round for every lesson in the future.

Image attribution: The Game Originally uploaded by v@lentina