Explicitly Taught Learning Objectives

Looking for a way to focus teaching on the specific concepts and skills needed for independent practice, assess students’ achievement of the outcome of a lesson, inform students about what they are expected to do and know by the end of the lesson, ensure that lessons are on grade level and gain the attention of students? Then you are looking for explicitly taught learning objectives!

Explicit Instruction is a systematic, step by step approach to teaching that has been shown to promote achievement for students with disabilities. While the Common Core provides the “What”, Explicit Instruction provides the “How” for helping students with disabilities access the general curriculum and meet the educational standards that apply to all students.

When designing and implementing the use of learning objectives, educators need to remember that learning objects are not a list of activities that will be completed during the lesson. Learning objectives describe what students will be able to do successfully and independently at the end of a specific lesson as a result of classroom instruction. Learning objectives are developed from content standards. They contain a concept (noun), a skill (verb) and sometimes a context and must always be aligned to the skills and content information that students will be asked to demonstrate in independent practice. Effectively designed and explicitly taught learning objectives ensure that students are taught concepts and skills that they need to know to ultimately meet the Common Core Learning Standards.

In their book, Explicit Direct Instruction: The Power of a Well Designed Lesson, John Hollingsworth and Sylvia Ybarra outline 5 steps for developing learning objectives.

  1. Select a content standard
  2. From the content standard identify skills, concepts and context
  3. Deconstruct the content standards into learning objectives. Most content standards will have more than one learning objective
  4. Identify or create the independent practice to match the learning objective
  5. Teach the learning objective

When completing step 5, educators should explicitly teach learning objectives. This involves presenting the learning objective visually and auditorily, providing opportunities for students to interact with the learning objectives, checking for understanding, making direct connections to how it fits with what they have previously learned and referencing it throughout the lesson and revisiting it at the closure of the lesson.

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