Chapter Summary

In the United States, broad educational goals for most subject areas are published by many national professional associations and by all state departments of education. Usually the state departments of education also publish curriculum framework or curriculum guides that offer somewhat more specific explanations of educational goals, and how they might be taught.

Transforming the goals into specific learning objectives, however, remains a responsibility of the teacher. The formulation can focus on curriculum topics that can analyzed into specific activities, or it can focus on specific behaviors expected of students and assembled into general types of outcomes. Taxonomies of educational objectives, such as the ones originated by Benjamin Bloom, are a useful tool with either approach to instructional planning.

Since students normally are diverse, teaching requires differentiated instruction, or adjustments to students’ learning needs, backgrounds, and capacities. A widely used framework for doing is called response to intervention, and involves continual short-term assessment of students’ response to teaching, coupled with a system of more intense instruction for the relatively small number of students who need it.

In addition to planning instruction on students’ behalf, many teachers organize instruction so that students themselves can influence the choice of goals. One way to do so is through emergent curriculum; another way is through multicultural and anti-bias curriculum.

Whatever planning strategies are used, learning is enhanced by using a wide variety of resources, including the Internet, local experts, field trips, and service learning, among others. It is also enhanced if the teacher can build bridges between curriculum goals and students’ experiences through judicious use of modeling, activation of prior knowledge, anticipation of students’ preconceptions, and an appropriate blend of guided and independent practice.

Further Resources

  • AdPrima. This is one of many websites that explains what behavioral objectives are and how to write them. It gives more detail than is possible in this chapter.
  • Assessment of K-12 learning. This page has several items related to instructional planning. See especially the links to several websites about Bloom’s Taxonomy, as well as the page about simple classroom observation techniques, which is a potentially useful part of RTI interventions.

 Additional References

Chi, M. (2005). Commonsense conceptions of emergent processes: Why some misconceptions are robust. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 14(2), 161–199.

Derman-Sparks, L. (1994). Empowering children to create a caring culture in a world of differences. Childhood Education, 70, 66–71.

Haywood, K. & Getchell, N. (2005). Life span motor development, 4th edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Press.

Perkins, D. & Mebert, C. (2005). Efficacy of multicultural education for preschool children. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 36(4), 497–512.