Questions / Reflections

On creating SMART lesson objectives

 There are various (and numerous!) points of view on formulating good lesson objectives. Some popular models are described in The Decision Book by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschappeler (such as SMART, PURE, CLEAR, etc.)

Many of us in ELT are familiar with writing Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound lesson objectives / aims. What I don’t find a lot online is how to write those SMART objectives and how to help teachers do so for their own lessons. This short posting was written for my Teacher Education Consultant course participants in Korea and can hopefully be of some use for others as well.

This article not about teaching can be helpful to look at setting objectives out of our usual perspective of teaching or training professionals.

Another article on writing SMART Learning Objectives is perhaps closer to our teaching/training or mentoring context, with some examples

I would like to give an example of objective setting process and making it SMARTer that was helpful for me personally (again, is not related to teaching)

I want to learn how to swim.

  • Specific? To be able to swim without stopping
  • Measurable? To be able to swim for 50 meters
  • Achievable? using the freestyle stroke
  • Realistic? Yes: it is now mid – May now and I have been working out a lot lately, plus I am going to join a health club pool
  • Time-bound? To be able to do it by the end of September 2013

So, by the end of September 2013 I will be able to swim without stopping for 50 meters in a pool using the freestyle stroke.

Moving back to teaching: I sometimes use quite simplistic explanation of SMART for designing lesson objectives by asking the following questions. What exactly are my students learning today? (Specific, Time-bound) How will I see that they learned it? (Measurable) Is it possible to do this in one lesson? (AchievableRealistic)

Below you see some examples of lesson objectives collected from my colleagues. They are mostly SMART but not perfect and can be improved based on your context, students, lesson length, etc. All are based on productive skills lessons (writing and speaking)

I will be using the following abbreviation:

      SWBAT = students will be able to

       TL = Target Language (meaning Grammar structures or some Vocabulary items)

  • By the end of the lesson SWBAT write a simple poem introducing their friend using TL by drawing a mind map.
  • By the end of the lesson SWBAT describe their friend in 3 – 5 written sentences using at least 3 verbs (is, live, like)
  • By the end of the lesson SWBAT introduce themselves to a pen pal in a foreign country in an e-mail sharing topics that they have already learned such as appearance, future job, the time they feel happy, favorite food, and personality
  • By the end of the lesson SWBAT tell about their last weekend using past verbs such as watched, ate, went etc. to describe what they did in a survey activity (asking at least three peers)
  • By the end of the lesson, SWBAT find out their friends’ future jobs and similarities or differences between them using TL in a mingling survey activity
  • By the end of the lesson, SWBAT exchange information about their family members using at least 3 new personality adjectives in a mingle activity
  • By the end of the lesson, SWBAT describe their favorite 3D movie using TL [8 adjectives] in a pair work interview activity

The easier part to me is writing the SMART objectives for receptive skills lesson, because the objectives reflect the major task(s) students will be able to perform to demonstrate their understanding of a text/recording. The ‘trick’ would be to choose such tasks that really show understanding of the given text (and perhaps moving a little beyond that), BUT this is a completely different story then.

The post written by Zhenya.

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