The Purposeful Classroom

February 12, 2012

in new and noteworthy books

I remember six years ago when the district officials for my school system first decided all classroom teachers must post state standards and objectives for every lesson taught. I dutifully copied all 200+ standards onto individual chart strips, laminated them (oh, what a waste!), and kept them organized numerically in a long cardboard box. I thought I’d made my work easy–each day, I’d just switch out the old chart strips for the new ones.

Then administration decided that STUDENTS must understand the daily objectives. The language must also be posted in kid-friendly terms, and any adult should be able to walk in to the classroom and ask a seven-year-old kid what the purpose of the activity was, and the student should be able to answer.

A handful of my colleagues were outraged. And all of us were baffled. Getting little kids to articulate (on demand, to total strangers visiting the classroom) what they were learning and WHY in every lesson seemed like an insurmountable task. And maybe an unnecessary one. But the new requirement caused us to ask ourselves some hard questions on a daily basis:

  • Do students really understand why they’re learning this skill or concept?
  • Can they make a clear connection between the activity and the outcome I’ve told them to aim for?
  • Have I done my best to make this task and its objective meaningful and relevant to students’ lives?

I realized I wanted my students to know what they were learning and its purpose for their own sake, not for accountability to district officials. I began posting my objectives in kid-friendly language and incorporating them into our morning meeting discussions. I noticed students actually started reading and talking about the objectives on their own (“Hey, look, we’re going to learn the multiply by 6 today! Ooh, no more narrative essays, this week we’re doing expository!”) I made an increased effort to help them explore the purpose and meaning of their work, more than I ever had before. But I never felt like I developed my lesson purpose as well as I could have with my students. Like so many other aspects of my practice, I knew there was more I could be doing, but wasn’t sure what or how.

book review purposeful classroomEnter The Purposeful Classroom: How to Structure Lessons with Learning Goals in Mind, a new book by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey. Those names probably ring a bell for you: they’ve written tons of other books and I’ve previously professed my obsession with Reading for Information in Elementary School. This time around, the dynamic duo is tackling the issue of learning objectives.

Right at the beginning of the book, Fisher and Frey differentiate between a lesson objective (which is in the mind of the teacher) and the lesson purpose, which is the act of carefully communicating the objective to students. They address the SMART criteria for objectives and even touch on how inquiry-based lessons fit in. I love that they talk about how backwards planning (a la my beloved Understanding by Design) makes establishing purpose easier, and even how purpose works with theme-based instruction. Fisher and Frey explain that students who reflect on their purpose for learning understand and retain material better, and approach their work with more creativity and critical thinking skills.

This is a fantastic book for any teacher who is serious about creating objectives and purpose for lessons. The Purposeful Classroom is  no easy beach read due to the subject matter, but it’s written in a straight-forward, relevant way that addresses the major trends right now in education and ties them all back to creating meaning and purpose for students. Fisher and Frey explain in very simple terms how to write objectives that include both content and language components, and how those objectives fit with pacing guides.They even use the buzz-word du jour “unpacking the standards” in a surprisingly meaningful way.

I especially like the chapters on ensuring that a lesson’s purpose is relevant and inviting students to own the purpose. They discuss intrinsic vs. extrisic motivation as well as fixed versus growth mindsets, teaching kids how to set their own goals, and using “I Can” statements. The book concludes with a discussion of assessment: identifying outcomes related to the purpose and knowing when a learning target has been met (which is not as easy as it seems; sometimes we think the class understands a concept when most kids have actually just muddled through it.)

ASCD has generously provide me with a review copy of this book as well as an additional copy for a give-away. For a chance to win this book, leave a comment on this post before midnight on Sunday, February 19th.  Tell us what YOU find to be the most challenging aspect of purposeful lesson planning. I’ll choose a comment randomly and announce a winner right here in this space on Monday the 2oth. Good luck–this is a book that is definitely worth digging into!

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UPDATE 2/10/12: CONTEST CLOSED. The winner is Rebecca, number 110! Rebecca, send an email to angelawatson [at] live [dot] com and let me know what your mailing address is. Thank you to everyone who participated and shared ideas about lesson planning challenge! You’ve raised some really important points, and I’ll be addressing some of these concerns in an upcoming post.

 

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Angela was a classroom teacher for 11 years and currently works as an instructional coach and educational consultant based in New York City. She's created a webinar series on pro-active behavior management and has written 3 books for educators. Check out the blog and free teacher resource pages for photos, tips & tricks, activities, printables, and more.

{ 113 comments… read them below or add one }

1 C. Adams February 12, 2012 at 7:21 pm

My biggest challenge is DEFINITELY the part about making it meaningful and relevant to the students’ lives, and communicating the meaningfulness to them when they are very often short-sighted about these things. Sometimes they’ll fight you no matter how hard you try to explain the relevance, they have an answer for everything. And sometimes they’re right, too – some things you need to teach because it’s on the program even though it’s extremely unlikely they’ll ever need it in life. (proofs that vertical angles are equal…?)

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2 Adelia hall February 12, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Holy cow! The beginning of this blog sounds like me and te rest of my school! I feel baffled and overwhelmed a lot. I do NOT want to be a frazzled crazy teacher. I really would like to read this book.

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3 Sally DeCost February 12, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I would have to say the most challenging aspect of purposeful lesson planning is finding time to get it all in! I strive to keep the lessons meaningful as well as fun for the little ones, but we have such a vast expanse of learning goals, there just aren’t enough hours in the day! I suspect there are others out there who also struggle to fit it all in, while trying to keep it purposeful!

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4 rmcrowell February 12, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I feel like my greatest challenge with purposeful lesson planning is breaking down the “teacher language” into ways that the kids can understand the goal. My principal has told several of us that he would prefer us not to use terms such as “dipthong”, “blend”, “diagraph”, etc. in our plans to him because we wouldn’t use that when discussing the lesson with our students. Another thing I struggle with is incorporating goals and objectives for each of my students who require modifications, have IEP’s, etc. They’re not always on the same target goal as the majority so I feel like I’m writing multiple sets of lesson plans each week!

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5 Carmen Buchanan February 12, 2012 at 8:47 pm

As an instructional coach, I work with teachers every day on lesson planning, finding instructional strategies, and formative assessment. I have read several books by Fisher and Fry and use their work in my professional development sessions. Our school has been working on learning targets for the last two years. This book looks like it would be a great resource to tie our learning targets, formative assessment, and strategic teaching all together.

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6 Lorraine @ Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies February 12, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I would say my greatest challenge this year is making the learning relevant and making my lessons have connections to the students lives. This normally is not too tough but this year I have such a mixed group of students…..many eco dis and several that aren’t, academic levels ranging from 2nd grade all the way to about 7th grade, and many many parents who aren’t involved. :(

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7 Erica February 12, 2012 at 8:52 pm

As a 5th grade teacher, one of the biggest challenges I face in creating purposeful lessons is getting the students to truly own the content. I ask often why I would have them learn what I’m teaching. Getting them to stop answering, “So when I see this on a test…” seems like an insurmountable obstacle at times. I try to communicate to them that what I am teaching has purpose outside of school, but getting them on board with that idea is often difficult. Moreover, when I struggle with why on earth a student should have to learn something, I find it difficult to make the lesson purposeful. Though I am an avid math lover, I often do not see the necessity in making all students learn so much of what they must in math. So, getting beyond myself can be difficult.

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8 Jana February 12, 2012 at 8:54 pm

I think my greatest challenge is making everything relevant to my students’ lives and breaking down down the standards into kid-friendly segments.

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9 Chris February 12, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Teaching in a low socioeconomic area, I find the biggest challenge is after putting everything together, finding ways to motivate students who have limited experiences and low expectations for themselves to buy what I’m selling. Content is great, delivery is great, but they need to take ownership of their own learning. Working on fostering that growth is the biggest challenge for me.

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10 Mrs. K. @ The Teacher Garden February 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm

I think what I find most difficult about lesson planning is finding lessons that a) help students meet the objective, b) are relevant to the student’s lives, and c) are enjoyable for students, all at the same time! I can meet one or two of those things fairly easily, but hitting all three in every single lesson is definitely a challenge!

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11 Elizabeth February 12, 2012 at 9:11 pm

My biggest challenge with this at one point during my teaching was when I was a traveling teacher on a cart. I was teaching 3-4 different French and Spanish classes in 2-4 classrooms. It seemed so difficult to post learning objectives for so many different classes in so many different rooms while I was sharing white board space! I felt that my lessons were purposeful, but I had trouble with that step. I am now an instructional coach. The teachers that I work with are great at posting their objectives, but I rarely hear them talk about the objectives with their students, or discuss the purpose of their learning.

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12 louise February 12, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I use “What, How, Why” with my students. What are you learning? How are you learning it? Why are you learning it? The challenging part of this is making 2nd graders understand why they are learning something. Their general response is: “so we can learn”,or “so we can be smart”, or my all-time favorite “so we can pass the state test in 3rd grade”. Getting beyond this and truly engaging the students and helping them understand how they will use their knowledge is very powerful. I have not read this book, but it seems like it would go hand-in-hand with what I am trying to accomplish in my classroom.

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13 Sandi February 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm

For me, I find it very difficult to get 8th graders to see the importance of math. In addition, it is hard to make the math relevant to their daily and not the math they will use in the future, which for them they can’t see past the weekend!

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14 Wendy February 12, 2012 at 9:36 pm

I believe the hardest part is trying to connect the classroom lessons with their every day lives. In order to make it meaningful it needs to connect with them. Connecting history every day is one of the most difficult things to do. Trying to pep it up so that it is entertaining and not boring would be the next hardest thing, but they inner connect.

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15 Mary Bauer February 12, 2012 at 9:45 pm

I cringed at the part where you spent time making laminated cards for each standard. I know I have worked on projects to make “district” happy. I have found that when I focus on communicating with my students and their parents what they are supposed to learn I teach much better and usually “district” is satisfied.

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16 Selina Smith February 12, 2012 at 9:54 pm

I teach 8 different subjects(reading, writing, math, spelling, grammar, technology, science, and social studies) and find it impossible to keep up with posting objectives for everything.

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17 Brenda Giourmetakis February 12, 2012 at 9:57 pm

I am a principal of an elementary school. How to insure all students understand the goal of the lesson is something we are currently discussing. With a high population of ELL students, I think it is important to state the lesson goal for each lesson. Not only does that give a foundation for students but it causes you, as teacher, to be very clear of your lesson plans. You know what you need to be teaching.

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18 Jill Greene February 12, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I think the biggest challenge is just building up a repertoire of strategies. There are so many different ways of delivering instruction, but not every method is appropriate for every topic, and trying to figure out which methods will be most meaningful can be daunting.

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19 Jenny February 12, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Kid friendly language – this wasn’t such an issue when I taught fourth and fifth graders, but helping first graders understand what they are learning and why is a challenge.

I heard these two speak at ASCD in SF last year and they were amazing!

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20 katie r February 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm

I think making the standards build on one another and relevant in kid language. I think after the 3rd day of the same standard I fall into route vocabulary and don’t get creative in building on it or making it more challenging or show how this is more or different.

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21 Kristy B. February 12, 2012 at 11:23 pm

I think the hardest challenge is to have the standard posted in kid language and having the1st graders understand why and what they are learning. Sometimes the students say we are learning this so we can go to 2nd grade or so we can be smarter. I want them to know why it is so relevant to learn that when we add or subtract we always start on the right side not the left ( as an example) because the fundamental skill that we learn now will greatly impact their learning in the future.

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22 Jessi February 12, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I am a secondary teacher. It is hard to juggle six classes and try to teach an objective. I am constantly trying to re-vamp lessons for the objectives.

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23 Amelia February 13, 2012 at 12:17 am

My biggest blessing is also the source of my challenge: our school doesn’t rely on adopted curriculum. The flexibility is great but so is the weekly demand of creating lessons. I also loop with my kids so I go a full year before repeating the curriculum and don’t have the benefit of immediately reteaching each year.

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24 Nick H. February 13, 2012 at 10:41 am

The most challenging aspect of purposeful lesson planning: scaffolding activities for struggling learners so they can learn effectively and that my more advanced learners do not become bored

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25 Kristi Wiggins February 13, 2012 at 11:38 am

My older kids ask me all the time, “Why do we have to know this?” Sometimes I can’t give them a good answer. It would be great to have some help with this topic. Can’t wait to read this book!

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26 Kelley February 13, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I work with disengaged teens and it is always a challenge to help them connect with the material with which we are working. But, it is one of the most important aspects of what I do. Any help is always appreciated.

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27 Laura February 13, 2012 at 9:16 pm

The most difficult aspect of purposeful lesson planning is when the curriculum wants so many surface level skills taught and doesn’t leave time for the deeper comprehension and concepts to be taught.

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28 Stacey February 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm

We are so easily distracted by the demands our administrators, legislators, etc put on us. I really just want to be able to focus on teaching my students and making sure they are successful in accomplishing their goals. I am intrigued by this book. I have worked with Backwards by Design and found it really improved the focus of my instruction.

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29 Jennifer Meadows February 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm

The most challenging part of lesson planning is narrowing down to the most essential content. It is difficult to weed out and yet still build understanding at the same time.

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30 Kristie Hines February 13, 2012 at 11:00 pm

The most challenging part of lesson planning is that I teach a Primary Montessori classroom and have 4-6 year olds. I have 24 children that are all over in different levels with different needs. I have difficulty to find time within the day to work and meet the needs of the children. I am always looking for more ideas that can help narrow down and weed out and just get to work !

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31 Carlie February 13, 2012 at 11:01 pm

At this point I struggle to communicate learning objectives on a regular basis and in a manner that ignites intrinsic motivation. I am ready for some direction with this.

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32 Laurie February 14, 2012 at 1:33 am

The wiiiiidde range of learners needs…both socially and academically.

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33 jen o. February 14, 2012 at 6:27 pm

We’re currently writing new curriculum maps that incorporate reading, writing, social studies, and the new common core standards. Reading this book may help me make the most of the new maps and create an atmosphere where the standards aren’t scary and goals can be achieved :o)

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34 Anita Goodwin February 15, 2012 at 1:08 am

Thing the book sounds excellent and exactly the thing we are suppose to be doing next year.

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35 Catherine February 16, 2012 at 5:20 am

My biggest challenge is probably organising and incorporating concrete materials in maths and in other subjects, ensuring there is enough time left to review what we have learnt.

I have started reading a book about on-task teacher talk. They recommend always making sure students know the purpose of the lesson. One teacher in the book calls it the “think about learn about”. I have started incorporating this into my teaching and it’s very powerful. I would love to read more!

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36 Rebecca February 17, 2012 at 10:58 pm

The hardest part for me is definitely making the learning purposeful, but also ensuring they are ready for state assessments. Purposeful learning does not com in multiple choice questions, but we also have to teach that skill.

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37 Cris February 17, 2012 at 11:09 pm

I struggle with making my K-6th students (I’m a Japanese teacher) embrace the relevance of learning the basics of the language. It’s easiest when it’s something like introducing yourself and stating your age, because that kind of conversation comes up all the time when you make new friends in a foreign country. I like to have students model the day’s dialog by pretending they are college exchange students and having such-and-such conversation in a given situation. They love pretending they are carrying around a backpack as a college student. Anyway, I have a hard time being that relevant in all my lessons (especially teaching colors, fruits, etc), but I WANT to make them “get into” all of the lessons and “feel” their relevance.

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38 Cynthia W. February 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm

The hardest part for me is that I am a new teacher and so I am trying to juggle all the requirements and have meaningful learning for my students. I want to know how to be more purposeful and have enjoyable lessons for my students.

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39 Kelley February 19, 2012 at 10:08 am

Biggest challenge is time! More and more responsiblities just keep piling up. It is hard to keep it all undercontrol. Two grade levels, elementary school being run like a middle school because we are short teachers, million dollar shortages not going anywhere, children who district hop, turn over of administrators….I would love to just teach. I do love to teach! Wish it was my only job…wait it is the only one i get paid for. :)

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40 Sunny February 19, 2012 at 10:08 am

I think the most challenging part of making lessons purposeful is helping children see the relevance of a lesson they may not understand. This wasn’t as difficult when I was teaching older students. Trying to help my 2nd graders understand why they need to know this (whatever “this” is at that moment) for the long-term is difficult. I teach in a high poverty area and many of the kids can barely see the end of the day let alone the end of a unit or school year. This presents its own challenges when trying to ensure children understand why something will be important for them to know LATER rather than immediately.

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41 Mike M February 19, 2012 at 10:09 am

I started a new job this year and the district requires us to use a different format for objectives than what I’d used the last 12 years. Writing K.U.D.s for math is sometimes tricky and frustrating, as the Know and Understand are often the same, but we’re not allowed to post the same thing for both. The Do is the easy part of the objectives…

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42 Tara Moffitt February 19, 2012 at 10:10 am

I would agree that time to fit it all in is usually my problem. I feel like perhaps if we teamed in third grade my planning would be a bit more effective. I would love to read this book!

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43 Liz February 19, 2012 at 10:11 am

The most challenging aspect of purposeful lesson planning: scaffolding activities for struggling learners so they can learn effectively and making sure they understand why we’re learning it – it seems more difficult to give these children real life bridges they can understand.

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44 Megan C. February 19, 2012 at 10:16 am

Sometimes I find it difficult to communicate to students how some objectives are important to more life long learning and connects with the “real world” once they are adults with careers.

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45 Lisa February 19, 2012 at 10:16 am

My biggest challenge is the ever-present “threat” that admins will walk in, ask my children what they are learning and why, and the child will answer, “I don’t know.” …or “Nothing.”. PLEASE, I’d love the assistance it sounds like this book would provide…and I have not one more penny to put into teacher resources. Teachers at my school are too busy buying pencils and printer paper. Thanks, Angela!

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46 Libby S February 19, 2012 at 10:19 am

I agree that making the objectives and standards relevant to students. Creating kid-friendly objectives and essential questions takes time! I would love to read this book!

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47 Heather February 19, 2012 at 10:21 am

This is definitely something that’s being stressed in our district right now. One of the most difficult things for me is finding ways for students to make connections between what they are learning and helping them see how it is relevant in their lives outside of the classroom.

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48 Heather B February 19, 2012 at 10:24 am

The most difficult part of lesson planning is getting all the district and state objectives in during the time they give us. I always go through the day with my students but need to work on how to post it and have it there for them. I would love ideas on how to accomplish all of this.

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49 Angela Piccoli February 19, 2012 at 10:24 am

This book sounds like a great read. I am in a title 1 public charter school who needs to create their lesson plans on their own and sometimes I feel like the things I am doing are not truly helpful to the children. I am trying at this point to make every minute of my room more purposeful and all centered around student learning.

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50 Alison Murray February 19, 2012 at 10:24 am

As an inner city high school teacher the biggest challenge for me in lesson planning is differentiation. I have such a huge range of abilities in my classroom, from students who read on a first grade level to students who are on level, it makes planning a lesson that will teach all of them a huge challenge.

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51 Lesley February 19, 2012 at 10:26 am

There are so many things I struggle with when planning purposeful lessons. Fitting it all in is definitely a roadblock….there is so much! Making it interesting and relevant to the kids lives seems to be a hurdle at times, and putting the lessons into kid friendly language, that is easy for them to understand. I have so many books that I pull ideas from, it sure would be nice if there was a 1 tool that would take the place of all of the different tools I use……it is exhausting to constantly be running from one resource to another to obtain information for making writing purposeful!

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52 Jennifer McVeigh February 19, 2012 at 10:28 am

This would help me so much! I start student teaching in the fall :)

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53 Jen Sykes February 19, 2012 at 10:31 am

This would help me tackle the hardest part of my job… meet district requirements *and* make our work together meaningful for students.

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54 Tina Gibson February 19, 2012 at 10:33 am

It’s a toss-up between fitting all learning goals in, in all classes and communicating their relevance to my students. I’ve found that relevance fuels motivation. Goodness knows, we need motivation!

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55 Michelle Carter February 19, 2012 at 10:37 am

The most challenging part is trying to make it meaningful for ALL students. Making sure my objective is relevant to all my students can be tricky.

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56 LMonn February 19, 2012 at 10:39 am

I have found that some standards are written so vague that it’s hard enough for the teacher to understand it, much less the students understand; but still, we try to make everyone understand. My students actually have a copy of their standards (for my class) inside their textbooks, but ironically the students don’t know they are there until I point them out to them. My district has also suggested that we post our standards, and it’s funny I had a similar idea as your article, I was going to print out all the standards and post them on the wall, bulletin board, etc each day as I needed them. Then I discovered that I use so many during a week, that I would be wallpapering my walls with them, so I did not follow through. Again, I go back to the rational that the students have a copy in their books; however, as the article pointed out, they don’t read them. They truly do not have a clue of why we do the lessons that we do in class until I explain it to them; it would be nice for them to understand why we are studying parts of speech, phrases, and clauses to improve their essays without me having to stress it to them everyday.

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57 Krystin February 19, 2012 at 10:39 am

I find the hardest part to be making the learning relevant and connecting to the students everyday lives… And trying to fit it all in!! So many objectives, so little time!

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58 Lisa Decker February 19, 2012 at 10:41 am

The most challenging aspect of purposeful lesson planning is connecting it to the students. As a teacher the challenge of taking teacher talk and putting it chunks of learning for the students to be successful in.

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59 Kathleen Ennis February 19, 2012 at 10:41 am

The hardest part of purposeful lesson planning for me is how to infuse the learning with not just the objectives, but with the joy of learning I want to leave with my students. I miss the days we could stay devoted to a topic that they LOVED, and didn’t have to move quickly to cover the objectives. My students are very young, and I think if we don’t encourage their natural enthusiasm for school, we will lose them down the road.

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60 Toby Hale February 19, 2012 at 10:42 am

The aspect I find to be the most challenging of purposeful lesson planning is discovering clever ways to make all learning fun and explain how they might use what they learn in real life. Making the personal connection is not always easy for a teacher to do for every lesson. Once the students’ expectations for your lessons are carried out in this manner when you don’t have something fun for them you lose them instantly!

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61 Marilyn S February 19, 2012 at 10:42 am

I teach Early Childhood Education to high school students and we have a preschool right in our classroom… Trying to deal with teaching the standards to the ‘bigs’ who teach the the preschool standards to the ‘littles’ keeps me dizzy! I can always use more guidance with this!

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62 Kristin Hockman February 19, 2012 at 10:45 am

I find it most challenging to just remember to post the standards daily. I have strips with student friendly wording but it still doesn’t seem to make it relevant to my students. I would love to read about ways to more effectively communicate to my students what we are learning and why. I have been looking for a resource like this!

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63 Jeff February 19, 2012 at 10:47 am

Students should know why they are learning what they are being taught, it speaks to the idea of usefulness. People don’t do quality work unless they see it as somehow being useful. We don’t like jumping through the hoops that local, state and national entities force us to jump through, especially when they are virtually clueless w.r.t. education. We should expect the same from our students: if they think we are just making them jump through educational hoops, we should not expect quality from them, either.

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64 Shannon February 19, 2012 at 10:47 am

I find as a first year teacher that I struggle with many things. The main thing is motivating students, or students understanding the purpose in learning specific skills. If I can get the students to understand the purpose or usefulness behind the topic, they will usually get on board with me. As I saw in a previous post, objectives are very vague, and I struggle with what should I teach. I would love to add this book to my collection.

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65 Susan Silliman February 19, 2012 at 10:50 am

My biggest challenge is addressing each child’s learning gaps in a way that he/she can best learn. It’s a complicated dance.

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66 Anna February 19, 2012 at 10:52 am

I teach grade 7 and it’s pretty straightforward for the students to understand our province’s standards. What they are amazed at is that the government tells teachers what to teach each year, and that they can see this document on the internet. It’s an eye-opener for them academically that our little in-school monthly standardized test isn’t the thing that determines their grade, it’s all those other little things as well!

I don’t have the same requirement as many teachers to exactly match a standard to a lesson plan. Ours are quite broad and can encompass just about any sensible learning activity. To get students to understand why we are doing something is often as simple as making an argument for being an intelligent, creative and well-educated person because these are the people who dislike NOT knowing things. Or I have them face it as a challenge: are they ABLE to do it? Great! Then they win over the “boring” thing. They’ve mastered it and can move on.

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67 Bonnie Schulman February 19, 2012 at 10:53 am

I can’t help it. . . I just feel that forcing teachers to “post” objectives and “coach” students on how to answer questions about what they’re learning is disrespectful and a waste of precious classroom time! Effective teachers constantly reflect on their lesson objectives and ways to make learning relevant to the diverse group of students before them.

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68 Donna Acre February 19, 2012 at 10:54 am

The most challenging aspect is making it relevant to the kids. I know why I’m teaching what I’m teaching, I need them to understand also.

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69 Tammy Shipley February 19, 2012 at 10:54 am

Teaching kindergarten, I find it difficult to make standards/learning objectives relevant to five & six year olds. Our district would like for all students to be able to “state” standards/learning objectives when asked.

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70 Melanie February 19, 2012 at 11:01 am

My biggest challenge is matching learning objectives to meet the needs of all my students while also meeting the “needs” of my district’s expectations.

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71 Annie Reynders February 19, 2012 at 11:02 am

Boy do I need this book! I’m halfway through my first year teaching (still alive!) and I feel like I’m finding my own way at last. My school is under the gun to make AYP this year after missing he mark the last two years. My poor fourth-graders are feeling the pressure with our state writing test approaching in 9 days. I feel passionate about teaching the whole child, not just prepping them to perform on our standardized test. Finding a balance has been one of my greatest challenges this year.

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72 Cheryl February 19, 2012 at 11:04 am

I struggle with phrasing the objective in a kid-friendly manner and with planning lessons that fully engage the students and fulfill the purpose and meet the objective.

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73 Lorrie February 19, 2012 at 11:08 am

I would say the most difficult for me is to fit everything in. There are so many objectives to teach in so little time. It makes it difficult to spiral back and move forward. Also, I teach at a Title 1 school and many of my students come from homes where education takes a back burner to the troubles of everyday life. Another difficulty is making my students see the relevance and value in what I am teaching them.

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74 Farrah Eckard February 19, 2012 at 11:11 am

My greatest challenge is posting essential questions and learning objectives in such a way that my 3rd graders really get it and take ownership of those goals/objectives.

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75 Tiffany Perry February 19, 2012 at 11:13 am

The most challenging part of lesson planning is preparing instruction for all types of learning styles.

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76 Leslie Maxwell February 19, 2012 at 11:17 am

I,too, struggle on how to get students to articulate the purpose of an activity. I look forward to reading this book!

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77 Christine Anderson February 19, 2012 at 11:21 am

I want to learn not only how to incorporate all outcomes but how to making it meaningful and important for the students. I want to inspire my students to become independent learners.

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78 pat February 19, 2012 at 11:24 am

Working as part of an inclusion team, my coteacher and I do not always agree about the lessons to be taught and how they are to be presented to maximize the benefit to both groups of students, those regular ed students and those students with IEPs. Hoping this book can shed some light on what is best. Thanks!

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79 Glenda Dunson February 19, 2012 at 11:27 am

One of the biggest challenges is getting all of the information on the board. I teach second grade, so that means all subjects in my class. Finding the space to put it all up is tricky. When I finally have everything up, the poor kids can’t read it unless they come close because it is too small for them to see. I can understand listing what we will be learning, but we have to include essential questions along with the objectives. Did I mention we must include bell work, homework, and a summarizing activity known as a “ticket out”? I would LOVE to have help in making this process easier and most of all MEANINGFUL for my kiddos.

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80 Heather February 19, 2012 at 11:39 am

Because I teach at a Charter school and we have an extended school day you would think that I would have more time for our units, but we pack so much into our day I find myself just trying to get through the units. Just trying to get through doesn’t give me much time to evaluate and think about purpose like I know I should.

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81 Leslie danner February 19, 2012 at 11:52 am

Using kid friendly terms and making lessons relevant and meaningful (and engaging and fun)to kinders is a great challenge most of the time. And time..,finding the time to develop lesson plans without taking so much work home is a huge challenge.

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82 Cindy February 19, 2012 at 11:53 am

Trying to explain why prime factorizing is important! When do we use it?!!!

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83 Caren February 19, 2012 at 11:54 am

I think it is very important that my students know the purpose of what we are learning. I would love to read this book to find out how to do this in the most effective way.

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84 Juli February 19, 2012 at 11:57 am

Putting the purpose in kid language is definitely the biggest challenge for me.

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85 Meghan February 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm

The hardest part I find to lesson planning is differentiating the guided practice for all students. This is something I hope the book would help me with.

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86 Lori Zastrow February 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm

As our district/state moves into adopting the Common Core as well as principals doing Downey Walk-Throughs – this book is very timely and I will be reading it! As I begin wrapping my arms around the new standards, what a great idea to start out with all of us (me and my students) understanding the whats and whys of our learning….and the principals that will be looking for the displaying of said standards!

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87 Mary February 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Sometimes, it’s difficult to pinpoint one objective. I usually start my lesson plan with an objective, but (in language), trying to incorporate the skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing (and culture) often means that the same objectives get used over and over, just with different vocabulary, etc. It can take meaning away from the objective when it’s so often repeated. That’s a challenge.

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88 Tisha Moon February 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm

For me the hardest thing about purposeful planning is the material that these young children are being exposed to. Some of my students are just not ready for these rigours tasks. No matter how I present it I just know some children just need more time and unfortunately with pacing schedules they won’t get it. So trying to find that “extra time” can be challenging but is a must when planning for my class.

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89 JJ February 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I agree with everyone that posted. Students need to take ownership of their learning. Regardless if I get a free copy, I think I’m going to order the book immediately. I’m always on the lookout for ways for improving myself as a teacher and my students.

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90 Sarah February 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm

My district is just now making the transition into stating teacher objectives. This book sounds like one I ought to read. I love reading professional books. Jazzes me up for a great school year! Thank you for sharing the info.

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91 JIm BUrgoon February 19, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I think the most challenging thing about purposeful planning is three things:

1. The time it takes in the midst of all the other responsibilities we have
2. The lack of true training and peer mentorship
3. The lack of understanding among new teachers, who are career changers.

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92 Jennifer February 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm

My district began this practice this year. I believe it is important that students know which skill or standard they are practicing/learning and why. However, it is often difficult to make every lesson relevant to students so that they have that connection and motivation. The most challenging aspect of purposeful lesson planning for me is how to make the material meaningful to students while keeping them engaged. Students are not always able to comprehend that we are learning skills to enable us to learn new skills later on in school. I look foward to exploring the techniques and strategies in this book!

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93 Debbie February 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm

The most stressing part about purposeful planning is trying to plan lessons for the students when their background knowledge is so diverse. I feel like I am trying to meet so many needs in their lives in order to get them to the place where the concepts and skills can make any sense to them. It’s frustrating to know where the students are supposed to be by the end of the year when you see what they have when they come into your classroom. I love teaching – but the pressure of trying to meet the goals expected of teachers with students that are not educationally prepared makes teaching tough these days.

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94 Kathleen Benedick February 19, 2012 at 1:37 pm

It has become more challenging to create lessons that are relevant to students and to have them recognize and BELIEVE IN the relevance of the lessons for them. We have the same requirements to post ‘kid friendly’ objectives and for students to be able to explain what they are learning, why they are learning it, and how their learning will be demonstrated. Objectives cannot address all of that in any concise way!

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95 Sara February 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm

That book sounds fascinating! I have been trying to get my students to connect to the purpose of our lessons for awhile, but it an be tough. I would love some clear cut explanation on how to do this in a kid-friendly way!

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96 Beth February 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm

I also post kid friendly learning targets each day. I find that sometimes it is freeing. When we get too immersed in a lesson and I feel that I am losing some of them, I stop and refer back to the “bottom line” of the topic. If they get that, they are doing okay. The rest is “nice to know” but not necessary. You can see the relief in their faces. Knowing the expected outcome/goal is good for them.

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97 kristie williams February 19, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Differentiation of students learning styles and connecting with the lesson.

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98 Donald Schultz February 19, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Sometimes my/the lesson objectives do not meet all my students’ needs, therefore tweaking objectives by differentiating is necessary.

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99 Stephanie February 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Presenting purpouse in kid friendly language is a big one for me teaching first graders. I see the bigger picture of what we’re learning but I’d love some tips on how to make it more purpouseful for them!

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100 Kelly February 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Getting the students to buy-in to the purpose of the lesson.

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101 Kris February 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm

I love your idea about incorporating objectives into your Morning Meeting time. I think the hardest thing is having students understand why they’re doing a certain activity. Talking about it in Morning Meeting would give me more time to explain and answer questions. It would also give the children more time to process that purpose before engaging in the activity. Thanks!

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102 Donna February 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm

The biggest challenge that I find in purposeful lesson planning is finding the balance between following district requirements and the added stress of meeting the standard on state standardized tests. At times it feels like every ounce of creativity and ingenuity is sucked away by mandated curriculum and required lessons.

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103 Tammi Fitzgerald February 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I find that the hardest part is to get everything in that needs to be covered, meet the standards, requirements, and still make it meaningful and relevant to ALL students. It is tough job, but so rewarding. Tell me how to make it even more meaningful and still meet all of the requirement!

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104 Emily Whitfield February 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm

As a new teacher this year, I teach 7th grade Special Education- Mild to Moderate. We are inclusion, which places the students in Language Arts and Math. Some students may be in both, just one or I may only see them once in Reinforcement. The hardest part of lesson planning, is that the students knowledge is so diverse, and their motivation is even harder to obtain. Some times, you can plan for days, and then when it comes time, nothing goes right, the students could care less, and then oh by the way, YOUR DROP-IN happens. The standards can be confusing, with the SPI, learning target, the objective, all in kid friendly language. I love my job and my students and wouldnt change it for the world though.

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105 Corie February 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Meeting everyone’s needs every second of everyday, including my own.

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106 Dori MacFarlane February 19, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I find it challenging to deal with students who want to be at school, but don’t seem too interested in learning. This books sounds like a great way to involve the students in their own learning, and helping them have ownership of their education!

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107 Amanda February 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Wow! Your introduction sounds exactly what I did when we first started to have to post objectives. Now, I try to make them as child friendly as I can and just write them daily on the whiteboard. I like the idea of discussing them in the morning meeting, I am going to work this in this week and see how it goes. Thanks for the new idea! :-)

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108 Monica Horn February 19, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I find it challenging to align standards to our old math series – and then find the resources to cover those skills not in our curriculum. Very time consuming. It is also a challenge to add formative assessment and reteaching opportunities.

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109 Susan Belles February 19, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Sounds like just what we need.

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110 Rebecca February 19, 2012 at 9:02 pm

I’m not sure how I could make the standards relevant and meaningful for my 1st graders and still get some sleep each night. I thought getting them to understand the Essential Question for each lesson was challenging enough. This book will definitely be on my short list of must-reads.

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111 Heather February 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Taking into account where wach child is every day and developing small “flexible” groups.

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112 Marcie Zambryski February 19, 2012 at 11:57 pm

The most challenging aspect of lesson planning is trying to incorporate the Core Standards with the local district’s standards in such a way that six and seven year olds are able to articulate back what they are learning about during the lesson.

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113 Heidi black January 20, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Would this book be helpful for? I teach head start

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