Writing Learning Objectives is as Easy as ABCD

There are many ways professed by many experts on how to write a learning objective. It should be a simple process, but sometimes others make it seem like a formulated conundrum. My youngest is about to start his teaching career, and aside from our conversations around teaching practices and student engagement techniques, he is curious about lesson planning. (He’s entering the field with an alternative license, so he has forgone the formal lessons from Madeline Hunter and Harry Wong.)

So, lesson planning starts with backward planning. What do you want the students to know and to what level of mastery? A good objective comes next. A good learning objective can be as easy as ABCD.

A: Audience – Who is the objective for? Typically, it’s students, but like in show-business, you should always know your audience first. Be mindful of your students’ interests, culture, and background.

B: Behavior – What do you want your students to do exactly? Think taxonomy here. Do you want them to learn (most basic), compare (a little more cognitive demanding), or synthesize (very cognitive demanding)?

C: Condition – Under what circumstance do you want the objective met? By the end of the lesson, the week, or the semester? This helps you decide if your objective is a terminal or short-term objective.

D: Degree – To what level of mastery? Is this an introductory lesson, or a building complexity lesson. Do you need 100% mastery on this lesson for your students to grasp the next level of concepts, or do you need your students to have introductory awareness so that they may develop their mastery at their own style and rate.

An example of a terminal objective: Students will create a short video that summarizes the 10 most pivotal moments of the Civil War, providing descriptions and reasons by the end of the week with no less than 80% mastery (this would allow a student to deviate 2 out of the 10 pivotal moments).

An example of a short term objective: By the end of the lesson, students will correctly add double digit numbers when asked to show and tell with their peers, no less than 2 out of 3 attempts.

Of course, you would share your objectives with your students at the beginning of each lesson and ask that they are mindful of the required results, but encourage them to aspire for 100% degree of mastery. Students typically like to “win big.” So frame it like that. If you find that 50% or more of your students are not meeting the mastery degree you set, it would indicate it’s time for a slowdown and need for a re-teach with another strategy.

This post is dedicated to Bo Perry and all aspiring young teachers.

Channeling Aldo Leopold

Since the beginning of the Pandemic of 2020, my husband and I have filled our free time with “getting back to nature.” We have always loved everything outdoors: hiking, boating, fishing, bird-watching, etc. so this period in our empty-nesting is delightful. Our most recent trip took us into the Aldo Leopold Wilderness. It’s part of the Gila National Forest, and it’s wonderful. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to find a spot off the grid, yet inside the boundary of the Land of Enchantment. (And forget about cell service! Another bonus!).

So, as I do when without the distraction of the internet, I began to think about our educational efforts (generally speaking) during this strange and challenging time. Aldo said, “Education I fear is learning to see one thing by going blind to another.” He’s right, especially in our most recent 20+ years in public education in the US. How does high-stakes accountability testing evolve our most precious resource, our children, into enlightenment and knowledge about the most important things in life? It doesn’t. Yet, up until this major interruption called Covid 19, that’s exactly where we put our educational efforts: making great test-takers. We have a chance now to re envision our nation’s educational efforts. Let’s make it a place where a child doesn’t have to go blind to the most important learning our world can offer so they may be adequately prepared to take an exam. Let’s help our children see the real beauty of this amazing world so they can make it a better place for justice and love.

Forest Friend
Happiness is hiking the Gila.

Grant Writing 101

The first thing to do when you plan to write a grant: understand your mission and purpose. You should find grant funding that meets YOUR vision, not the other way around. There are many ways to find grants, but a simple google search might possibly reveal an opportunity. If you are a church-based group, you might check with your affiliate organizations. If you are with a government-related agency, you might check Grants.gov. Once you find that perfect grant, the real work begins. Here’s a few steps to get you started:

  1. Be sure to address each prompt/question thoroughly. Use the exact descriptors and words from the prompt/question in phrasing your answers. For example: If the question prompt is: What is your organization’s strategic mission and how can it increase opportunities for workforce development? Your answer will start like this: XYZ enterprise’s mission is _____ and through this funding, opportunities for workforce development will occur by ______.
  2. Follow the template exactly. Don’t deviate and go rogue creating your own version of how you think your narrative should go. Answer each question in the order they are presented on the RFP (Request for Proposal), using their numbering system and format.
  3. Start working on your budget requests early. Budget is a VERY important area that will likely be revised multiple times as your plan develops. Don’t forget to add fringe rates for personnel and an Indirect Cost allocation if allowable.
  4. Do it with a team! Many hands make light work! Facilitate a team with planning and discussion sessions to capture buy-in and different opinions and insight. This team will be your extra eyes and hands for editing and re-editing.
  5. Ensure your proposed activities support the funding purposes and/or the funding agent’s mission.

There are many elements to a great grant proposal that will get it noticed above others. Remember, grant writing is typically a competitive effort, and you will want to submit a PERFECT proposal to the funding agency. Of course there’s always people to help your organization such as Learn New Mexico. I have a stellar record of obtaining grant funding, and I would love to help you achieve your dream! learnnewmexico.com michelle@learnnewmexico.com

Shrinking Pains

You may have heard of growing pains, but let me share with you about my experience this afternoon with shrinking pains, more specifically, budget reduction. I tuned in today to the “town hall” with NMSU administration, and the cards were laid out in full view. (I attend a PhD program at NMSU.) Here’s the news: The budget reduction that will occur at NMSU in the very near future is $14.2 MILLION. Once that was revealed, the rest of the meeting involved discourse around HOW. Fear and worry are real now, as jobs are likely part of that reduction. NMSU is not the only higher education institute in our country facing this very uncomfortable reality. “Last month, employment in state government education dropped by 49,000 jobs and employment in private education fell by 69,000 jobs, according to employment data released last week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.” Read more about the effects of the budget crisis affecting our country’s colleges and universities here New Round of Budget Cuts Hitting Personnel in Inside Higher Ed. This will be a difficult time for many of our fellow New Mexicans and our beloved Aggies.

Community Action Calls! Learn While Doing

BE the Change!

I’m actively involved with an organized effort to bring vital services to families and their children. In the county where I live in Southern NM, there is an extraordinary rate of poverty. Poverty is the result of multiple effects, and is often a companion to many needs such as food, transportation, health care, and quality education.

What can be done to help families in need? What can you do? What can any of us do? Start by visiting this website: https://annaageeight.org. Here you will find information about a state-wide effort to identify gaps in services that are necessary for thriving, such as parent supports and job training, and the services that are necessary for survival, such as medical & behavioral health care and housing. The building blocks toward this effort is from a book called, 100% Community by Dr. Katherine Otero Courtney and Dominic Cappello. Also, read the authors’ first book, Anna, Age Eight, an account of Anna, a young girl whose tragic story began the journey for this initiative.

Dr. Otero Courtney and Mr. Cappello have continued their efforts for multiple years to bring sustainable change to NM through a framework that helps NM counties develop and implement their own action plan toward a healthier and trauma-free community. Part of that framework requires leaders to address challenges and roadblocks that often come in the form of a “three-headed hydra.” You’ll have to also read their most recent book Attack of the Three Headed Hydra. This is a relevant and timely account of efforts necessary to solve our most difficult insecurity issues among our most marginalized citizens, especially in these precarious pandemic times.

It only takes one visit, one click of the mouse, and you too can get involved. There is a solution, and you are part of it.

AI in Chinese Classrooms; Would this ever fly in the US?!

I just watched a shocking video from the Wall Street Journal about some government-funded research that is being conducted in Chinese classrooms around the use of AI for student performance. Take a look: https://youtu.be/JMLsHI8aV0g! Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts. Would this ever fly in the US?!

Pecha Kucha

Pecha Kucha is a presentation delivered using 20 slides, with high-quality images, which are shown for only 20 seconds each. The presenter speaks as the slides run automatically. It is an excellent way to deliver an engaging speech.

I am hosting my Pecha Kucha right here in preparation for my presentation (along with my colleague from NMSU-A, our Division Leader Cathy Aguilar-Morgan). Cathy was a member of the team who developed the 2020 HSI Title V Proposal. I led the group and wrote the proposal. We learned in September of this year that NMSU-A was the only campus within the institution who was awarded $300,000. In addition, the proposal was given a perfect score by the US Department of Education. We are excited to get this proposal underway. We will be sharing this presentation on November 12, 2020 at the NMSU Graduate Research Fair. Please click here to find my Pecha Kucha: NMSU-A HSI Title V Presentation

UPDATE: click here for the live presentation of this pecha kucha on November 12, at 4:30 mtd.

The Danielson Framework for REMOTE teaching

As a public educator in the state of NM for a VERY long time, I am extremely familiar with the Danielson Framework. Basically, it was THE teacher evaluation tool in our state since 2013 (maybe before). I tuned in today to a webinar on the newly released Framework for REMOTE teaching. I was pleasantly surprised. Here is the link to the tools that were covered in today’s event: https://danielsongroup.org/resources If you have limited time, download and take at least the self-assessment on Creating Environments of Respect and Rapport. Even in virtual learning, we know and understand the power of relationships in our classrooms. I have to say this feels like a more gentle and supportive observation protocol compared to what I knew from years gone by. Let me know what you think!

Into the Wilderness

Today as I was hiking the Pine Tree Loop trail at Aguirre Springs (built for mountain goats) I lost the trail at the top. I began to think about the panic and struggle when people lose their way and of course education during the pandemic came immediately to mind. Here’s what I learned today. Stay calm and be ok with the fact you can’t find your path. Breath in and breath out. Look around and get perspective. Don’t panic and smile. If all else fails, make your way back the way you came. Which is what I did. Be gentle with yourselves NM educators as you work on these difficult paths. Keep your head and breathe. This too shall pass and what we thought was hard before becomes clear eventually.

1997 Educational Technology in its infancy!

Dear Friends,

I am sharing an article from 1997 from Education Week. Technology Counts, School Reform in the Information Age.  I am asking that you take a glance and see where your state reported in relation to how tech ready the education system was.  You’ll likely agree that we have come so far so fast, yet we still have many of the same problems that haunted us 23 years ago.  One of my favorite parts of this article is the mention of RETA in NM.  In 1998, I became a member of the Regional Education Technology Assistance Initiative, RETA.  This was a state-wide professional development program designed to enhance the use of educational technology.  I was hooked!  I continued with the same cohort for 2 years; learning everything I could about the developing technologies of the time and how to use them in my classroom.  At the time, I was teaching a class called, “High Tech” in a middle school.  We were learning to use the popular Macintosh Classic 2.  It was a very modern piece of equipment for the time because it was an evolution to the 5 ¼ inch disk from the 8-inch floppy disk.  We used the computers to develop the school newsletter (basically substituting the computer for a typewriter) where we literally copied and pasted (with glue sticks)!  The class was really popular, and I loved teaching it.  Eventually “High Tech” was faded out and in came the computer lab.  This was to enable ALL content areas the access to the lab.  I was a huge proponent of the integrated approach so that all students could have access to the computers.  However, it meant I didn’t have the class anymore, but I went on to teach other courses, always including technology into my lesson planning, mostly in the form of PowerPoints and web-based scavenger-hunts when I had a turn in the lab. 

In 2002, I wrote my first grant:  Enhancing Education Through Technology (E2T2).  This opportunity came as PED flow-through funds from a federally funded initiative.  I couldn’t believe it when I was awarded the funds to purchase a Computers on Wheels Cart (COW) with 25 Apple computer laptops.  For a year, my principal let me keep the cart in my own classroom until the other teachers in the school started inquiring how they could also use the cart.  So, once again, for the benefit of all the students, I stood aside for progress and let the cart go into library circulation.  In the mid-2000’s the COW concept caught on like wildfire, and the computer lab concept became less appealing. 

Fast forward to 2019, you will rarely see computer labs in modern schools.  They are now “maker spaces” or other kinds of rooms intended to house interactive technology and facilitated learning.  COWs are now smaller and filled with inexpensive Chrome Books that are assigned to students for continual use.  In the best-case scenarios, every classroom has a bank of portable technology, interactive white boards, and cloud-based instruction.  We now expect teachers to offer deeper applications with technology as it has become more relevant, personalized, and common-place in the classroom.  We’ve come a long way baby! 

I have a deep appreciation for the power of technology in the learning environment as a tool. I want to be on the cutting edge of the next generational expansion of the use of educational technology.  This is the reason my area of emphasis is Educational Learning Technologies. I believe it’s important to stop and look back at all the ground you have covered professionally.  I challenge you to appreciate how far you have come, and how far you have left to go.  Keep the faith!

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