Learning Objectives: 3 Things Students Must Know

Learning objectives are goals teachers set for each lesson. These objectives are skills students are acquiring rather than content topics being covered. Students work hard to achieve the objective by the end of the instructional lesson.

Teachers often write these objectives on the board to share them with students. Administrators look for them when they enter the classroom to know what students are working on without having to interrupt the lesson.

One of the major problems with learning objectives is the way they are written. Using convoluted academic language is not easily understood by students. Objectives can tend to lack tangibility from a students’ point of view. They become something written on the board, never to be referenced or understood.

In order for lesson objectives to accomplish their purpose of driving student achievement, there are three things teachers need to consider:

learning objectivesAwareness

First, teachers need to make students aware of the learning objective. This means drawing attention to it on the board or at the beginning of the lesson to set the stage for the learning that will take place. Instead of jumping right into a lesson, teachers should begin by explaining the end goal (objective) of the lesson. Using student friendly terms will help students digest the meaning of the academic language often found in objectives. When a guest enters the room and asks a random student what they are learning, all students should be able to share what they are working on or towards in their own words.


Second, teachers need to build on the awareness by explaining to students why learning the objective matters to their personal and academic life. By connecting content to real life, students are more invested in their learning. They see the relevance of the material on the outcome of their daily lives. This association is powerful in motivating students to pay attention, try their best, complete their assignments, ask questions, and deeply engage in the lesson. By creating the connection from self to content, many classroom misbehaviors will also dissipate.


Third, teachers need to be explicit for how students will master the objective. Students need to know what they are working towards throughout the lesson so that they can remain on track for learning that skill and for knowing when they have met/not met it. By laying out the roadmap of what students are learning and how they are going to learn it, they feel safe to begin the learning journey.

By following this simple formula of awareness, association and achievement, students will be more successful in the classroom. They will know what skill they are working on, know how it applies to their life, and know how to successfully acquire it. This brings clarity to all learners, boosting confidence and investment in their own education.

Next Steps

  • Meet in Professional Learning Communities to review how objectives are integrated throughout the lesson. Grab a PLC leadership guide here to lead more productive PLC’s.
  • Complete Learning Walks around the school to see how other teachers are implementing the three pronged approach to learning objectives. Get the details for running effective learning walks here!
  • Access other lesson planning materials to support teachers such as a lesson plan checklist, lesson plan feedback slips, and lesson planning visuals.

How are you increasing student awareness and investment in daily learning objectives?

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About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.