Why Use Content & Language Objectives in Your Classroom?

From guest blogger Valentina Gonzalez

I had an epiphany! I have to share it with you. Especially those of you that have ever wondered…

“Why do I have to write my content and language objectives on the board?”

I used to think it was for administrators to see what was going on in classrooms. That was even a rumor in the building. Teachers were all a buzz over the new expectation. 
In hindsight, it would have really helped to know exactly why we needed to put these objectives up on the board. 

But when it hit me, it hit me! It wasn’t for the administrators at all. Here’s what happened…

I went grocery shopping WITHOUT a list! YES, that’s when it hit me.

Think about this…A time when you went to the grocery store without a list. What happened and how did you feel? 

If you’re like me, you walk around grabbing everything in sight, feeling overwhelmed and leave realizing you didn’t get what you really needed for dinner. And somehow, tons of junk ends up in your cart. I’m serious…for example, chocolate bars and Oreos (I’m speaking from experience).  This is not a lie. It’s what happens to me all the time when I go without a list… JUNK! I lose focus and I get distracted by all of the surroundings. 

Now think of a time when you went to the grocery store with a list. What happened and how did you feel?
For me, when I go with a list, I know exactly what I’m there for, and I get everything I need. I leave feeling successful. 

What does this have to do with content and language objectives?? Well…our classrooms are full of information. They can be confusing and overwhelming ESPECIALLY to students learning English as another language and content at the same time. If we don’t tell them what the goal or target for the day is, they can be grabbing ideas throughout the lesson instead of focused on the learning. I don’t want them grabbing for junk. “I wonder if my job today is to understand that adjectives can make a sentence more descriptive. Or am I supposed to understand that verbs can be irregular? Or is my goal today to build sentences that are compound?” 

When we explicitly tell our students what the goals are for the day or class period, it’s like giving them the target. They know what to reach for so they can aim appropriately. And they are not focused on everything all at once. As we know, learning English is a huge task while at the same time learning content. The more support we can give our kids, the better. Giving them content and language objectives is another scaffold, a support. 

I want my students to walk in and know what is expected of them. Nothing is a surprise. 

So that’s why we should post our content and language objectives. But take it one step farther. I learned that kids need to read the objectives out loud at the beginning of class. Otherwise, the objectives become wallpaper after time. Kids need to talk about the objectives and reflect on them at the end of the class period. “Did I hit the mark?” “Do I still need to work on this objective?”

If anyone ever questions why they should put up objectives-there it is! They are like targets. They give students something to aim for during the day.

About today’s guest blogger:

valentinagonzalez

Valentina Gonzalez has been in education since 1997. Her work spans across multiple grade levels. She started her teaching career as a third grade teacher but has also taught second and fourth. Valentina Gonzalez has also served as an ESL Specialty Support Teacher where she co-taught in first through fifth grade rooms. She served Katy Independent School District as an ESL Facilitator traveling the district and supporting ESL teachers and their campuses. Valentina Gonzalez is currently a Professional Development Specialist for English Language Learners in Katy, Texas. She has had the pleasure of presenting at district, local and state conferences. She is a life-long learner who is passionate about advocating for all students.

You can read more of Valentina’s work on her blog, English Language Learners, and by following her on Twitter: @ValentinaESL

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One comment

  1. I LOVE this analogy, Valentina! Thanks so much for sharing your epiphany in such an approachable, understandable and relevant way! I will be sharing your article with teachers when they ask me the same question!

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