Tag Archives: learning goal

Video Analysis Two

For my Instructional Strategies course, we were again asked to analyze a video. I chose to analyze this one; although it is well out of my age-range, it seemed like it would be an interesting new perspective I hadn’t yet considered in this course. The video shows a close reading of a text by 10th grade students. I found the teacher used two strategies very well in her presentation of the way in which students were to approach the reading. The video starts with a great introduction, connecting the lesson to other lessons and setting clear objectives, and the teacher provides guidance on how to take effective notes during a closed reading. I believe the teacher did well with putting students into groups, but find there could have been ways to improve the cooperative learning aspect of the lesson.

In the very beginning of the lesson, the teacher starts by stating what they would be doing, referencing what they had done before, stating how this instance would be different (nonfiction as opposed to narrative close reading), and explicitly stating the purpose of a close reading. This all took place within the first 20 seconds of the lesson. According to Dean et al, “clearly stating the learning objectives in student-friendly language helps students focus on what you want them to learn” (2012, p. 7), and the teacher in this instance does a great job helping the students understand exactly what she expects from them that day. She then links what they are learning to why they might need it in the future – she even notes that they are using a text she read in her time in college – which is what Dean et al refer to when they say objectives should help students understand “how they will apply what they are learning now to future studies” (p. 8).

In regards to note-taking, I wish I would have had a teacher who taught me how to take notes when reading a text in-depth. This teacher listed multiple different notations for different situations: Main idea? Underline it. Don’t understand a word? Circle it in orange or pink. Find something exciting? Put an exclamation point and write why you find it exciting. At one point, the teacher states that “There’s no wrong way to annotate this text,” which is very encouraging for those students who might not be so confident in their ability to tease out important information. Pitler and Stone note that “note-taking strategies are not intuitive” (2012, p. 185), so it is critical that the teacher provided so much structure for what to write, but also gave students a little bit of leeway in regards to where exactly they would mark. The annotations will also help students when they revisit the text, which they will likely do as the teacher noted what she wanted them to do when reading “the first time,” and will allow students to better understand their thinking from the first read-through as they re-approach the text to go further in-depth.

While I appreciated that the teacher had students work in small groups, I was never aware of any form of accountability. This may have been incorporated in their overall expectations during group work, but was never addressed in the video. The students seemed to have an understanding of their roles and helped others in their understanding as well, but it did not seem to have the “positive interdependence” aspect called for by Dean et al (2012).

Overall, I believe this was a great lesson. I would have never imagined being able to have such a deep discussion of a text like this when I was a sophomore in high school. It is clear that with a clear objective and guidance as to how to approach and annotate the text, the teacher allowed students to identify the main ideas of the text and to look deeper into the meaning behind the words.


Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Pitler, H. & Stone, B. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers

This week, I chose to focus on the previewing strategies of cues, questions, and advance organizers. As a new teacher, previewing material has yet to be much of a focus for me, but I now understand how important it is to student understanding of material. By activating prior knowledge and getting students excited about the material, students will be better able to hit the ground running with material as the lessons begin. I have never personally used any of these strategies, so in my own personal practice I would consider myself a 1 – Unsatisfactory by Dean et al (2012) and Pitler and Stone (2012) standards, but I have seen two great examples of how these strategies look in practice from my two mentor teachers. One used a skimming strategy as an advance organizer, while the other used a cuing strategy.

The skimming strategy was a way to get students excited about what they were going to learn in social studies throughout the year. It also gave my mentor teacher an idea of which lessons should have more emphasis and which ones were not of interest to the students. My mentor gave each student a text book and three Post-Its. The students were to put their name on each sticky note, then look through the book, reading headings and looking at pictures. After about five minutes of skimming, the students were then asked to choose the three chapters for which they were most excited, then post their sticky note next to the chapter title on a large poster. Like a bar graph, student votes made apparent the chapters for which students were most excited. It also sparked discussion about why certain chapters were their favorites, jogging their memories about their previous experience with the material. After the first month of school, though, the poster disappeared and I am not sure if my mentor took advantage of the valuable information it contained. If I were to do this in my own classroom, I would surely use this chart to seek out in-class experts that might help other students develop their prior knowledge and to help plan additional activities to supplement the curriculum.

In my other mentorship, my mentor teacher used KWL charts in a similar way to my first mentor teacher’s strategy, but she used them more often – usually to introduce units of instruction. This way, students were able to activate more specific prior knowledge and the teacher got immediate feedback on how much students already knew about this specific topic, as well as what they would want to learn. Additionally, she used this information to help guide pacing through the unit and to review the unit upon its conclusion. Not only does this activate prior knowledge, but it also acts as a great resource for the teacher in understanding where the students are in their understanding.

Again, I have little experience with these strategies in my own teaching experience, so I would rate myself as Unsatisfactory, but I understand the importance of this strategy. Pitler and Stone state that “students are more likely to learn if they connect new information to what they already know” (2012, p. 102). This makes sense, as it warms up their mind to the idea and reminds them that they are already partial experts about some aspects of what we are to learn. It is also important for me to remember that explicit cues are critical when introducing new ideas. Dean et al note that “there is no need to be subtle or ambiguous with students about what you want them to learn” (2012, p. 62). While it is always fun to have a little surprise in store, surprising students with content is not beneficial to learning.



Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Pitler, H. & Stone, B. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Objectives and Feedback

The readings for this week in EDU 6526 – Survey of Instructional Strategies – focused on setting and communicating clear objectives for students and giving timely and detailed feedback on student work and ideas. Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone (2012) claim that objectives are important in education, as they link what students are doing in class to what students are actually supposed to learn. While to the teacher it may seem obvious, clearly stating the objective in both written and oral form allow students to clearly make the link between what is done and what is to be learned. The authors also state that feedback can help students “confirm, refine, or restructure various kinds of knowledge” (Dean et al, 2012, p. 3). In my own practice, I would consider setting objectives something I have worked on with great improvement, while providing students with feedback would be an area in which I would like to grow more.

In my experience as a student teacher, objectives were highly emphasized. My mentor teacher used objectives as titles for the lessons in order to better remember what students were to come away with at the end of the lesson. The objectives were posted on the board in the back, too, in second-grade language, sometimes denoting new vocabulary in a different color marker. Those words on the board, in and of themselves, were a great reminder to the teacher to stay on course and to keep the end goal in mind. The trouble I had, though, was trying to ensure students were on board with our target – that students were “getting it” and knew what we were doing and why. Using objectives as a tool for students, as well as for me as a teacher, can help everyone be on the same page in their understanding of what we are teaching and learning for the lesson. For me, writing objectives has been a good practice in how to plan units that align to Common Core – Dean et al state that “teachers must ‘unpack’ the statements of knowledge in their standards document to drill down to more specific statements of knowledge and skills” (2012, p. 5). This unpacking process allows me to organize the missions of each lesson in a way that better guides students to the overall goal of the unit: meeting the standard. Objectives are better, according to Dean et al, when students are informed of the objectives and can personally set their own objectives. While I have become much better at communicating objectives and having students discuss what the targets mean, I must improve on having students “buy in” to the objectives, possibly by better linking them to what students want to learn.

Feedback is an area in which I struggle. I want students to have a great deal of practice in what they are learning, so giving in-depth and timely feedback on what the turn in to me can be difficult. Dean et al (2012) recommend that feedback given to students be specific and timely: lets students know what they did correctly and on what they still need to work, references specific criteria such as rubrics, and comes in time to fix their misunderstandings before the confusion become integrated in their understanding. My next step in improving the feedback I give to students will be to create rubrics that specifically lay out what I expect of students in order to receive a given grade. This way, students will have more specific goals to reach a certain grade and know what is expected of them, but I will also be able to use it as a reference in discussing student understanding with the students and their parents. Pitler and Stone (2012) discuss a website called Rubistar in their vignette on criterion-referenced feedback. Rubistar allows teacher to create rubrics based on templates, making it simpler to give students the expectations and comment based on the same expectations for all students. This tool will be going into my bookmarked pages in order to use it this upcoming school year.



Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Pitler, H. & Stone, B. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Organizing Curriculum with Learning Targets

O1 – Offer an organized curriculum aligned to standards and outcomes. To me, this standard means to plan based on goals as opposed to plan based on activities. Throughout the coursework, we have been told about the importance of communicating goals to students. A learning goal is “a statement of what students will know or be able to do” (Marzano, 2007, Location 205). We sometimes refer to these as learning targets, which is more specific to an individual lesson. The activity in which the importance of having and communicating these goals was solidified was in creating a lesson plan. In Introduction to Teaching (EDU 6918), as well as in other classes, we were asked to create a lesson plan starting with the standards and learning targets, as shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1: A Lesson Outline from EDU 6918.
While creating a lesson plan, we were to decide what our standard and target were before planning the activities and assessment.

While this strategy was initially difficult, it became evident that having a clear goal was critical to having an organized curriculum, and that identifying the target can benefit students as well. As Jim Knight said, “When students understand what they are supposed to learn, the chances are much higher that they will actually learn it” (2012, Location 914). In order to make sure I give a clear target at which the students are supposed to aim, I plan on continuing to focus on what I want the students to learn before I focus on how they will learn it.


Knight, J. (2012). High impact instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.