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I CAN: Strategies for Rethinking How We Share Objectives

Science and Children—July/August 2024 (Volume 61, Issue 4)

By Julianne Wenner, Brooke Whitworth

Teachers are often required to display or explicitly state learning objectives prior to beginning a lesson. In particular, many elementary classrooms are required to post or state “I CAN…” statements related to their standards. Unfortunately, this practice can ‘give away’ what students should be figuring out, decrease students’ ‘need to know’ or motivation for learning about the phenomenon, and/or narrow what students notice or connect during the lesson. Here, we provide three strategies that may assist teachers in meeting their schools’ requirements while preserving students’ sense of wonder and ability to engage in sensemaking: 1) Delay sharing the learning objective until after the lesson and use it to metacognitively check understanding; 2) Frame learning objectives in terms of the Crosscutting Concept or/or Science and Engineering Practice; and 3) Create a question map to think more deeply about the core ideas embedded in the standard(s). We encourage teachers to consider how to present the learning objective as a vital part of the lesson planning process and recommend that they try these strategies individually or in combination to find what works best for their classroom.

Assessment Teaching Strategies Elementary

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