4.2 Setting Instructional Outcomes

4.1 Setting Instructional Outcomes – All the instructional outcomes are clear, written in the form of student learning. Most suggest viable methods of assessment [1]. Any good lesson begins with strong instructional outcomes. When outcomes are specific, measurable, and attainable, determining a lesson’s success is made much more clear. Providing students with clear and consistent instructional outcomes sets the foundation for effective teaching [1]. Throughout my student teaching experience, I have been applying this concept by taking what I’ve learned from my research and practicing it in the classroom. My evidence for this standard will come from both my coursework and my internship.

In 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions, the author stresses the importance of setting instructional outcomes for a lesson. Below is an excerpt that shows how setting quality goals is key to excellent instruction [2].

Specifying the mathematical goals for the lesson is a critical starting point for planning and teaching a lesson. In fact, some of the teachers with whom we have worked have argued that determining the mathematical goal for the lesson should be “practice 0,” suggesting that it is the foundation on which the five practices (anticipating, monitoring, selecting, sequencing, connecting) are built. The key is to specify a goal that clearly identifies what students are to know and understand about mathematics as a result of their engagement in a particular lesson (Smith, 13).

In my own practice, I have tested many ways to discuss instructional outcomes with my students and assess their understanding of the goals I set for a lesson. Learning targets are always displayed on the board for students to reference throughout the day. At the beginning of every lesson, learning targets are read and discussed together, clarifying any questions that come up. I make an effort to return to the learning target at both the mid-way point and ending of a lesson. One method I have found to be effective is self-assessment. This allows students to be metacognitive about their learning process and is a useful way to reflect and set new goals. Below is an example of an exit ticket I gave at the end of a literacy lesson [2].

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In this lesson, students created a t-chart of what a character in a story says and does. Then, using the information they collected, students were asked to make inferences about their character of choice. The instructional outcome for the lesson, “I can make an inference about a character in a fiction story based on what they do and say” is clear and written in the form of student learning [3]. Students’ understanding of the learning target can be assessed based on their written work done in class. In this exit ticket, students were asked to consider a success and a challenge they had during the lesson, and identify a place they can go to get help.

Based on my experience, setting strong instructional outcomes is only the beginning of effective teaching. What needs to go along with that is building discussions, creating tasks, and developing methods of assessment surrounded on instructional outcomes [4]. Setting strong instructional outcomes can have a powerful effect on student learning. Student learning continues to develop through discussions and reflections on their own progress towards meeting the instructional outcomes [5]. For the future, my goal is to continue returning to the learning target throughout a lesson [6]. If I spend too much time focusing on the what of a lesson, too little time will be set aside for the why. By remembering to come back to the learning target after the lesson has begun, my students and I will be able to make more connections as to why these tasks support our learning goals.

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References

Smith, M. S., & Stein, M. K. (2015). 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

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