4. Content Knowledge – The teacher uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning.
4.2 Setting Instructional Outcomes
All the instructional outcomes are clear, written in the form of student learning. Most suggest viable methods of assessment.
Instructional outcomes should be developed with relevant learning standards in mind. Using a backwards design approach to planning, an instructor should reference learning standards in order to determine the central focus and learning targets of a given lesson. This practice would then drive the following instruction, activities, and assessments of a given lesson. When assessing students for understanding, they should be assessed to see whether they are meeting the goals of the learning target, or instructional outcomes. Assessments and instructional outcomes should be built into the structure of a lesson plan and learning targets should be posted for students to see and interpret throughout the course of a lesson.
An instructor can verify if students are meeting the goals of a learning target by using formative and summative assessment strategies. But in order to do this, those assessments and instructional outcomes need to be planned in advance, utilizing learning standards in order to plan effectively. Figure 1 shows the introduction of a lesson plan, outlining the lesson title, learning standards, central focus, academic language, learning target, lesson introduction, instruction, and formative assessment. Prior to student exploration of new content knowledge, students are provided with instruction and are assessed providing them with enough background knowledge to be successful.
In the sample above, students are assessed to see if they understand new content. If the majority of the class is showing evidence of understanding, the teacher can move on with the next activity. Formative assessment is structured throughout the lesson, and during formative assessments, there are planned alternatives if students are showing evidence of struggle with meeting the instructional outcomes measured by the learning target. Figure 2 illustrates an outline of the remainder of the lesson, adding formative assessments as checkpoints to evaluate student understanding of the learning target, and a closure evaluation of student voice, to assess student understanding of the learning target.
This lesson provides an example of how a teaching can be preplanned and structured in order to provide clear instructional outcomes. When designing this lesson, I began with the learning standards in order to provide activities that were engaging but also assessments that measured student growth relevant to the central focus/learning target. Assessments were preplanned to evaluate student understanding of what I was teaching but also to make adjustments to the plan if this was not successful. After teaching this lesson, I learned that I needed to make the following adjustments to my lesson plan…
- Document in the plan how the learning target will be introduced and relate it to past knowledge and academic language.
- Plan elaborate interrogations when questioning students to have students provide evidence of a deeper understanding of the content (Marzano, 2007).
- When issuing an exit ticket, there could have been a period of reflection and demonstration of understanding of the learning target, providing one more opportunity to assess students.
- During formative assessments, a plan should be documented for the students who aren’t grasping an understanding of the content. For example, if 20% of students don’t understand the new material, the teacher could use ability grouping to provide more instruction to that 20%.
These noted adjustments are based on the notes of an observation of the lesson that was taught. While the majority of students demonstrated understanding of this material, these changes could provide a more effective lesson. Furthermore, providing more discussion and discourse relevant to the learning target would deepen student understandings of that content. This would have been very helpful to a few students that were struggling with the lesson. Making adjustments to teaching based on the feedback from others, evaluating student data, and reflection of learning activities are all methods of appropriate pedagogy (Marzano, 2007). During my first year of teaching, I plan to consistently adjust in these ways in order to plan more effective instructional outcomes.
Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.