Classroom Planning

Last revised: May 1999

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Major Questions and Issues

  1. What is it I want to accomplish?

    Goals--Long-term outcomes generally presented in broad, general terms (e.g., become a responsible citizen; become a professional educator)

    Objectives--Specific, short- and medium-term statements related to tasks that students should master after instruction; a clear, unambiguous description of educational intentions for students (e.g., state the advantages of a democratic system of government; compare and contrast goals and objectives)

  2. Who are my students?
  3. How will I accomplish my goal and objectives?
  4. How will I know if my goals and objectives have been accomplished?

Timing of the Planning Process

  1. Long-term (School Year)

    a. Content overlap--do the objectives I intend to cover with students overlap with

    1. the objectives that will be tested on the standardized test at the end of the year?
    2. the prerequisite skills needed for the curriculum taught in the next grade?
    3. expectations of important stakeholders in the educational process?

    b. Task analysis

    c. Models of instruction

    d. Instructional methods and techniques

  2. Medium-term (Quarter, Semester)

    a. Themes

    b. Units

  3. Short-term (Lesson)

    a. Lesson objectives

    b. Activities

    c. Materials

Steps in the Planning Process

Frudden and Stow (1986) identified 8 steps in the planning process:

  1. Establish goals and objectives
  2. Establish allocated time
  3. Identify strategies and models of teaching
  4. Determine methods of evaluating of student outcomes
  5. Select instructional methods and techniques
  6. Design student activities
  7. Provide for variety and individual differences

Of course, it is necessary to properly implement the plan and to properly evaluate results in order to determine if the plan was a success.

Writing Instructional Objectives

Instructional objectives are statements of educational expectations for students. Although research has not demonstrated a strong link between writing objectives and student achievement (perhaps because well-written objectives are not always properly implemented or taught), it is still considered good educational practice to have written objectives in order to facilitate communication to students about expected outcomes.

There are a number of approaches to writing instructional objectives. Mager (1997) proposes writing very specific statements about observable outcomes (called behavioral objectives) that can be built up to become a curriculum (an inductive approach). An example of a Mager objective is: Given 3 minutes of classtime, the student will solve 9 out of 10 multiplication problems of the type: 5 X 4 = _____.

Gronlund (1999) proposes starting with a general statement and then providing specific examples of topics to be covered or behaviors to be observed (a deductive approach). An example of a Gronlund objective is:
The student can perform simple multiplication.
a. can define what multiplication means, in his our her own words
b. can define relevant terms such as "multiplier" and "product"
c. can solve problems of the type 5 X 4 = ______.

Eisner (1997) proposes that not all instructional objectives should focus on outcome; some should focus on the learning process itself (expressive objectives). Two examples are:
a. Students will attend a live symphony performance.
b. Students will use multiplication in everyday activities.

While there are advantages and disadvantages to each approach, we will focus on Mager's approach, since it is the most widely used and perhaps the most inclusive.

Lesson Plans:


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