Providing a Clear Instructional Focus

My parents meander.  As much as I would like to say this is related to their retirement status and not having set schedules, I cannot.  They have been this way for many years.  I recall one vacation many, many years ago when my parents packed bags, loaded the car, drove to the nearest highway, and then asked, “Do you want to go north or south?”  Once a direction was picked (they chose north), off they wandered for the next week without having a real destination or plan for their time.  

I suppose there is a place for meandering in life (perhaps a vacation period in a new location), but in my research regarding instructional practices I don’t find such a place.  In fact, I find the opposite.  Researchers John Hattie and Robert Marzano, two giants in the field, both indicate the need for clearly identifying a focal point for classroom instruction.  Identifying a focal point takes on a variety of forms:

  1. “I can” statements – Such a statement narrows focus to a specific content standard and clearly articulates what a student should be able to know and do as a result of instruction.
  2. Guiding questions – A guiding question focuses student inquiry to a specific content standard and provides clarity for the instructional period.
  3. Overt daily task/goal statements – Something as simple as placing the agenda on the board at the beginning of the lesson can help clear the academic clutter and focus energy on the standard being addressed. 

As you prepare for next week, think of ways that you can provide focus and direction for your lessons.  You and your students will be glad you did! 

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