Beyond Objectives: Preparation
By Marjan Hong, posted December 5, 2016
As a self-proclaimed social constructivist
who devoured the writings of Lev Vygotsky and Reuven Feuerstein, I was
immediately drawn to inquiry-based learning when first introduced to this
pedagogical method. It resonated with my personal educational experience, so I
was ready to jump in with both feet and introduce my students to inquiry-based
My first lesson was, as they say, an epic
failure. My students were all over the
place with their conjectures and reasoning, the lesson objectives were not met,
and most students didn’t even attempt half of the task out of sheer frustration.
When my colleagues and I reflected on the experience, one teacher asked a
question similar to the one I asked in my first blog: “We have students whose experiences
are all over the place! How can we possibly transition to inquiry-based
My personal understanding and response have evolved
over the years, but three critical elements have developed that are central in
my work with teachers.
1. Plan beyond objectives.
2. Activate a beyond-objectives mindset during implementation.
3. Embrace baby steps.
Planning beyond objectives might be defined
in a single word—anticipate. A
description of its characteristics includes the following:
• Identify the lesson goal.
evidence of learning.
critical elements that are necessary for all students to have access to
or create a task that is oriented to meet the goal of the lesson.
or develop open-ended launch questions and probing follow-up questions.
Purposefully planning beyond objectives
takes time and practice. Collaboration with colleagues is a critical part of
the planning process. Like our students, we develop frameworks for thinking as
we participate in discussion with our colleagues. In some instances, this may
require reaching beyond your school to connect with teachers in other schools.
You may want to pursue opportunities to connect virtually with other teachers.
What other avenues of collaboration do you envision? What additional obstacles
do you anticipate? I welcome your feedback and ideas!
The next two blog posts will explore the two
other central elements of successful transition to inquiry-based learning and examine
exemplars of transitions in action.
Marjan Hong, firstname.lastname@example.org,
has worked in mathematics education for nearly thirty years as a teacher,
mentor, curriculum specialist, and consultant. She is currently curriculum
content developer for Discovery Education. Her passions include access and
equity in mathematics education, empowering teachers, and inquiry-based