Learning Objectives Posted by Quarter
I stole this awesome idea from Jennifer Gragson, one of my fellow elementary music teachers in Kansas City, Kansas. I noticed one day when visiting her classroom that she had all of her learning objectives posted on her board, divided by grade, so that anyone who came in could see what they were working on and could quickly look at the broad goals that each grade was tackling that semester. I loved the idea and made my own version. This is right next to my front door and all students have to pass it to get into the music room.
Three reasons I love this:
1) It is absolutely totally amazingly easy to create and post (assuming you already have all your goals planned out by quarter/period) and administrators can easily look through and figure out what’s going on.
2) Students can find their own grade and objective. This has been especially helpful for back to school nights, open houses, and parent teacher conferences. We’re starting to mandate that everyone do “student lead conferences” where students have to explain the learning concepts and talk about their growth. Well, this visual makes it easy for students to figure out each skill that we’re working on and what the end goal is.
3) It helps keep me on track. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped by these posters and thought, “Hmm, what song can I do next to help me reach that goal?” or “What do I need to do now to make sure that I hit that by week 9?”
Our district curriculum is broken into four learning areas: Vocal Performance, Instrumental Performance, Composition/Improvisation, and Guided Listening. So, each of my grades can find their standards quickly if they look at the headers of each piece of paper.
A couple organizational thoughts…
So, when planning this out I spent a little time thinking about composition before I started making stuff. One of the things that I do in my room is color code… EVERYTHING! If it’s a second grade thing, it’s blue. If it’s a fourth grade thing, it’s orange. I color code all grade level materials so that students can quickly find what belongs to them whether that be learning standards, objective questions, or materials for a project. How did I choose those colors? Well, I got wise after an amazing teacher in my district, Carrie Davis, told me her little trick. Color code to match with the books from your textbook series. I don’t always use the books, but when I do the kids know exactly which ones belong to them because they are the color that they see everywhere else to match their grade.
I secured each white rectangle objective onto the colored backing with two small velcro dots. I like this because I can then leave the backing color paper (which has the label of Vocal Perf., Instrumental Perf., etc.) and just change the learning standard out each quarter. The velcro makes it easy to change objectives when it comes time for that.