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Check It Out: 10/10/18 Learning Goals & Academic Discourse

Your monthly news from the OPS Library Services Staff

Learning Goals are an Essential Component of Every Lesson

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Learning goals should be clearly posted in your library each day for each class.

Posting your Learning Goals is just the first step in using them effectively with your students.  When working with LGs, be sure:

1)  All of your instruction should be centered around your learning goals which should relate back to standards

     When crafting your lesson plans, your learning goal should should be the driving force.  Remember, there are student friendly learning goals already created in the Pacing Guide sections of the A+ Curriculum Guides (located in our Library Services Notebook).  Those student friendly learning goals will grow and change as we continue to work with the new AASL standards and our state standards.  You can also refer to Section 2 of the Best Instructional Practices Handbook for additional guidance.

2)  Highlight LGs at the beginning of your lesson

     Make sure you explain the learning goal to your students before the lesson begins.  Pause and confirm they understand the goal--possibly with the help of #3

3)  Check that students understand the learning goal by asking them to restate it

     Students can restate the goal as written or put it into their own words.  Students should clearly understand what they need to do to reach mastery for the learning goal.

4)  Refer back to the learning goal during the lesson

     As you progress through the lesson, be sure to reference the goal where it feels natural.  Ex--During a transition between activities share with or ask students how what you just completed or what you are doing next supports the learning goal.  

5)  Asess the learning goal through formative or summative assessment

     This can be an easy thumbs up/thumbs down activity, a brief glance at student work as you move around the room, a conversation with small groups of students as they are working, an exit ticket at the conclusion of the class or lesson, etc.

"Why don't students use feedback? Sue Brookhart writes that if students don't know how to use feedback or don't understand the learning goal they're applying it to, they're likely to see feedback as evaluative rather than informative. Like a final grade, feedback under these circumstances marks an end to learning, not an opportunity to extend. Raters can be motivators, however, when feedback is timely, specific, actionable, and compassionate. Here's how to put forward-focused feedback to work in your classroom."

Click here for find several articles from ASCD Express on Feedback that Fuels Learning

Learning Goals

Learning goals are an essential component of a guaranteed and viable curriculum. They help guide student learning and provide focus for daily instruction. Take a moment to look through the slides below to learn more about crafting learning goals. 


The flip book featured above should be available in your buildings.

Academic Discourse

The slides below are part of a presentation that was shared at the principals meeting on Tuesday regarding academic discourse in mathematics.  As with growth mindset and productive struggle, academic discourse is a skill that can easily translate to instruction in the school library.  One easy way to ponder this is to replace the word math or mathematics in any of these quotes with the word inquiry.

Allowing your students time to discuss what they are working on with each other in relation to inquiry will provide the same benefits that it would during mathematics instruction.  

1)  Students can develop a shared understanding about inquiry through discourse.

2)  Students can use language to process their thoughts on components of the inquiry framework, sources available for curating information, evaluation of sources, and creation of final products.

3) Students can learn from each other with struggles or failures in the inquiry process.  If students are exploring the same inquiry topic--through social studies or ELA projects--they will have common ground on which to share their successes and struggles.

Just look at all of the bullets in the last slide on why discourse is helpful for students!  

Goal:  Think about how you can add 5 minutes of academic discourse to your daily instruction.  Where can students discuss and learn from each other?  Or, where have you already added in academic discourse?  Are you seeing some of these benefits?  If not, are there adjustments you can make?  How is your academic discourse supporting your learning goal/standards?


AMLE--How Rich is Your Classroom Discourse

Effective class discussions focus on critical thinking rather than right answers.

Self-Checking Discourse Quality

A few questions may help you self-assess the quality of discourse in your class:

  • Is the emphasis on giving the right answers rather than processes and strategies?
  • Do the verbal interactions follow the teacher-dominated initiation-response-evaluation pattern?
  • Is discourse carried by the voices of a few where the others are reluctant to contribute?
  • Do you often provide opportunities for students to lead the discourse?
  • Do you model and insist wait-time be used as a key component of dialogue?
  • Do you send non-verbal signals to students based on your perception of their ability to give a quick or correct response?
  • Does your lack of comfort with content lead you to pose more close-ended questions?

When you create a classroom culture rife with intellectually safe spaces and emphases on processes of strategic thinking versus production of right answers, you invite instructional episodes of rich discourse. Student-led discourse is a powerful way to let students take ownership of their own learning.

Edutopia--Academic Discourse and PBL

Academic discourse is not something that comes easily to most students; rather, it is something that needs to be taught, modeled and recognized by both teachers and students. With strategic instruction around what academic discourse sounds, looks and feels like, it can be a useful tool that enriches all classroom interactions and facilitates deeper learning and retention.

Over the past year, we have established that increasing academic discourse also increases classroom engagement. When students are more likely to interact with their peers and take part in discussions, the long-term benefits of their understanding of the material are apparent in other math courses.


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Las Escuelas Públicas de Omaha no discriminan basados en la raza, color, origen nacional, religión, sexo, estado civil, orientación sexual, discapacidad , edad, información genética, estado de ciudadanía, o estado económico, en sus programas, actividades y empleo, y provee acceso equitativo a los “Boy Scouts” y a otros grupos juveniles designados. La siguiente persona ha sido designada para atender estas inquietudes referentes a las pólizas de no discriminación: El Superintendente de las Escuelas, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).