Objective: Tell Me At the End

In our district, teachers are required to post their objectives somewhere in the classroom for each lesson including the “what” and the “why.”  I’m a huge fan of inquiry based lessons and I think this can really ruin a great lesson.

Since 3 act tasks are all about exploration and questioning, I never tell my students what the objective is when we are working on a 3 act task.  My first slide always starts out: Objective: Tell Me At the End.

When I started doing more 3 act tasks in classrooms, I noticed some visible tension when I showed this slide and announced to students that “Today I’m not going to tell you what we’re learning about in math.  You are going to tell me.  We’re going to do some wondering and some thinking and some talking and some questioning and then you’re going to tell me what math you did today.  I know I (or your teacher) usually start out by saying today in math we are going to learn about blah blah blah.  But not today.”

I can truthfully say that this is one of the best things I ever did in math class.  Students really seem to enjoy the wrap up when they get to tell me what math they did.  The best thing is that they usually come up with about 4 more objectives than what I would have written on the board.  It’s also a natural closure for the lesson and students get to have the final word.

Now that several classrooms have had me teach a few 3 act lessons, I can hear students start talking early in the lesson about what math operations they will be using which really opens up some great dialogue and reinforces vocabulary.  I have to wonder which objective they will remember at the end of the day.  The one the teacher wrote on the board, or the one they typed out?

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