Saturday, April 14, 2012

Learning objectives with WALT and WILF

After reading a very interesting blog post from Stuart @Mr_SJS , which started with

a somewhat provocative statement (à la Katharine Birbalsingh) the other day - 'A good teacher
states clear Learning Objectives. The best don't. Discuss.'

I have been inspired to add my own thoughts and experiences. I very much agree with what Stuart says and am in fact quite passionate about not needing learning objectives, that they can sometimes limit children's learning. Certainly in some maths lessons I will use an 'I can ...' title, because I want the children to self assess at the end. Mostly I want the children to develop inquiring minds, to be able to problem solve, collaborate and consider their own learning objective. When we drop into a drama and begin learning using the mantle of the expert approach it is the children that lead the way. Do you need to state a learning objective for that? It would ruin the anticipation, the thought processes, the discussions and all the other juicy skills that do not require a teacher telling them 'We Are Learning To'. Our children are quite able to create their own personalised learning objectives.

To give an example, imagine this scenario. A bag has been found. I don't know what to do with it. I need help from others. What would the learning objective be? Why would you need one? The children made decisions, did a lot of thinking and sharing of ideas and were quite clear about what they were doing. (If you are interested in reading about this drama/enquiry day, you can do so here.)

What about if you started a lesson with something like this.

Would you need to give the children a learning objective?

I have had this discussion with many professionals and in general have found that schools who have been awarded satisfactory or below have also been given poor advice or have been made to become hung up on over-planning and setting learning objectives.

In one 2 day inspection three different inspectors visited four of my lessons (they had not seen the mantle of the expert approach before and were intrigued). During this time they did not see one learning objective, but they saw learning happening. They saw enthusiastic children pushing themselves, working collaboratively and independently from me. I was an observer.
This is not a one-off, OfSTED have returned and have sen the same approach, with no learning objectives. They have not questioned it and have judged my lessons as outstanding. Not my teaching - they saw very little of that - they were making judgements based on the children's learning and progress.

So, if your children are inspired, enthusiastic, learning and pushing themselves to their limits without having been given a learning objective, have LO, WALT etc become surplus to requirements?

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