Saturday, 2 May 2020

No, you don't always need a learning objective on the board

Verbs for Learning Objectives - Bloom's Taxonomy

I see a lot of teachers who start every lesson with a learning objective written up on the board. Often the first job of the lesson is for children to note the 'L.O.' down in their books. 

I've long thought this was a rather wooden and mechanistic way to start a lesson - certainly to start every lesson. But the practice is so widespread and so vigorously defended by its adherents that it has seemed futile to question it. The origin of starting every lesson with an L.O., it seems, dates back to the roll-out of Assessment for Learning (AfL) where a key pillar of the exercise is to explain the learning aims to learners. On the face of it, this seems perfectly sensible advice that few would argue with; and so it is, except that it has been applied so indiscriminately, with so little thought or nuance, that most of the value has been wrung out of the practice.

I was pleased to see that my own reservations on slavishly trotting out L.O.s are shared by Dylan Wiliam - the very expert from whom AfL (originally formative assessment) had its birth. In this video, he points out:
  1. That lessons may very well not have a single goal - some have many so a single L.O. is often contrived.
  2. That always telling children where the lesson is going sometimes spoils the journey.
  3. That insisting on teachers doing this in every lesson means that lessons run the risk of becoming dull, predictable and boring
So there you have it. Like most things in life, use with common sense and moderation :-)