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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Meaningful Connections: Objectives and Standards

Karen Lea

5 - 12 mathematics teacher and currently teacher of teachers

As a new teacher, you are probably being asked how your learning objectives are linked to standards. You might even be asked to display your objectives and/or standards for each lesson. On top of taking attendance, learning student names, classroom management . . . are you wondering how you will accomplish that? Don't despair, this is not as daunting as it seems!

Why Do We Link Objectives to Standards?

Hopefully, you are using the standards as a foundation for what you teach so that your students are learning the material they should be learning; that's the science of teaching. Then you take the standards and create objectives for your students; that's the art of teaching. You think about the question: "What do I want students to learn, and how will they demonstrate that learning?" Look at the example below where we have taken the standard for "solving problems" and made it creative by having students "create a blueprint." That's how we make a meaningful connection between the standards and objectives. That's how we link the science of teaching to the art of teaching. We have also included writing, which is a focus of common core standards. Yet it is not just writing an explanation; it is a persuasive essay.


Standard: Solve problems involving scale drawings of geometric figures, including computing actual lengths and areas from a scale drawing and reproducing a scale drawing at a different scale. (This is a common core mathematics standard for seventh grade.)

Objective: Students will compute lengths and areas of a classroom to create a blueprint of the classroom indicating the scale used. When finished, students will write a "sales pitch" to a person explaining why their blueprint is accurate and should be purchased.

Within the objective, we have included the "what" and the "how." This will keep us on task in the classroom and will tell the students what the task is. When we post this objective for the students, we are letting them know the task at hand and that it is important enough to post. We have also included multiple levels of Bloom's Taxonomy, which is important to ensure that our students are critical thinkers.

Creating Objectives

So here is the challenge. Take the standards below and create objectives for your classroom. Choose a grade level, or several grade levels. The standards are listed by grade levels and are taken directly from the common core standards.

Kindergarten: Correctly name shapes regardless of their orientations or overall size.

Grade 1: Partition circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares, describe the shares using the words halves, fourths and quarters, and use the phrases half of, fourth of and quarter of. Describe the whole as two of, or four of the shares. Understand for these examples that decomposing into more equal shares creates smaller shares.

Grade 2: Recognize and draw shapes having specified attributes, such as a given number of angles or a given number of equal faces. Identify triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons and cubes.

Grade 3: Partition shapes into parts with equal areas. Express the area of each part as a unit fraction of the whole. For example, partition a shape into four parts with equal area, and describe the area of each part as 1/4 of the area of the shape.

Grade 4: Draw points, lines, line segments, rays, angles (right, acute, obtuse), and perpendicular and parallel lines. Identify these in two-dimensional figures.

Grade 5: Classify two-dimensional figures in a hierarchy based on properties.

Grade 6: Find the area of right triangles, other triangles, special quadrilaterals, and polygons by composing into rectangles or decomposing into triangles and other shapes; apply these techniques in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems.

Grade 7: Know the formulas for the area and circumference of a circle, and use them to solve problems; give an informal derivation of the relationship between the circumference and area of a circle.

Grade 8: Apply the Pythagorean Theorem to determine unknown side lengths in right triangles in real-world and mathematical problems in two and three dimensions.

Once you've met this challenge, post your objectives in the comments section below, and let's help each other take the science of teaching and connect it to the art of teaching.

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