Mr. K’s thoughts here. In sum, posting the standard being taught gives away the punchline at the beginning.

Makes me think of a comment by Grant Wiggins (I forget where I read it, somewhere on his blog most likely), where he noted that one red flag for low-quality teaching is when he asks students what they are learning about and they struggle to articulate it.

I think Mr. K makes a good point–but with the assumption that the lesson is an exploration where students get to experience the punchline. Different folks, different strokes.

While posting “SWBAT identify that when multiplying exponents with like bases, the exponents add and the base stays the same” absolutely gives away the punchline in a lesson that is easy to structure as an investigation. But thinking of Grant’s point, students should absolutely be able to say “we’re exploring the properties of exponents” or “we’re trying to figure out what happens when exponents are multiplied”. Many students in classrooms with objectives posted may have trouble articulating that, and I think that is my goal when I think about how students interpret our purpose in math class.

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banderson02“one red flag for low-quality teaching is when he asks students what they are learning about and they struggle to articulate it”

This is always a concern for me, and my school is one where we have to have “Big Ideas” posted. I look at it this way:

Posting IS giving things away. Now I post a general statement about Linear Functions, and don’t go beyond that. I still feel it cheats the students a little, but it’s also about how you present things and focus class discussion. When kids see the Big Shoe I put up on the screen, I collect questions, and then we look at what questions we need to answer and I ask them what MATH then need to get there. Most of the students can tell me some type of strategy so we write it up there and away we go. This might become streamlined or reworked into something different, but it gives the students ownership and allows them to have a baseline from their thoughts about what we are doing and where we go.

I take the stance, after 5 minutes, if students don’t have a clear objective of what we are doing then I’m not doing my job. Students will have an idea, they can articulate it clearly, and we revisit what we are doing and reflect on whether we want to change our approach. The Big Idea is still present, we just don’t rush to it right away- but we also don’t wait until the bitter end to wipe away the mathematical mystery.