Why not spell it out for them?

27th June 2008 at 01:00
We need to be clear about what we want children to learn and how we are going to get there
We need to be clear about what we want children to learn and how we are going to get there. Direction and pace go hand in hand, that is how we keep on track.

The lesson objective tells pupils what they are going to learn and the learning pathway shows the teacher how they are going to get there. Stick to the path and the pace will not stall and focus will be maintained.

Make sure your lesson objective is clear and in child speak, not national curriculum speak. I saw a lesson recently with a learning objective on informational texts, which was actually about teaching Year 3s to use a dictionary. So why not say so?

Break down the learning objective into three or four key teaching points, to act as your learning pathway. So for a lesson on using a dictionary, your teaching points might be:

- Alphabetical order.

- Sequence - look up alphabetically the first letter first, then the second, etc.

- Look at the variety of word descriptors.

- Pick the description that fits and summarise in your own words.

Re-focus on the learning objective in the lesson. Show pupils how well they are doing and how they can usefully move forward.

Don't confuse speed with timing. Sometimes you need a faster pace and sometimes a slower one depending on the intellectual challenge of the content you are teaching. The problem comes when you are going fast when you should be going slower and vice versa. Each section - beginning, middle and end - should have sufficient time to do it justice in a smooth and balanced way.

In the plenary, review and consolidate what the children have learnt

Alan Haigh is the author of The Art of Teaching: Big Ideas, Simple Rules.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today