Many of our international visitors are eager to learn about lesson planning: how we teach and assess our students in Finland. One of the key components is the alignment of learning objectives, teaching and assessment. The three elements address the same agenda and support each other. Sounds easy and logical but requires a lot of professionalism and planning.
Learning objectives are the key to the teaching and learning process: they define what is taught and what students should learn. Knowing the learning objectives the students are able to focus their learning process on the objectives. Therefore, the objectives should be described openly for the students from the beginning.
Teaching should be planned according to the learning objectives. How are the students able to reach the objectives? What are the most suitable teaching methods to support their learning? Teachers continuously observe the students’ learning process. When needed, the teaching methods are changed. When doing lesson planning, it is worth remembering that positive atmosphere and joy of learning promotes students’ motivation and learning.
Teaching and learning are interactive processes. The students are encouraged to participate actively, to set their own learning objectives and to solve problems both independently and with others. Thus, the students learn to self-reflect their own learning process, experiences and feelings.
Assessment gives us information on how well the students have reached the learning objectives. Nevertheless, the assessment should measure not only the learning outcomes but also the learning process, motivation and personal development. In fact, a fundamental part of the assessment is to develop students’ self-assessment and analysis on their learning outcomes compared to the learning objectives. This is why the students should know the assessment criteria from the beginning.
The successful assessment takes into consideration the suitability of each assessment method for every student. If a student has difficulties in writing, a written exam should not be the only assessment method. The students are treated individually and not compared with each other. This normally surprises our international guests – how Finland has such a great PISA success if we do not have nationally wide exams during comprehensive school.
Lesson planning and many other topics will be discussed during KOULU Group’s EduVenture event in September 2017. Learn more and join us at www.koulugroup.fi/eduventure
An example: 5th-grade history
- Specific theme: Life during the 19th century in the students’ homeland
- Learning objective: the students familiarise themselves with the life of people from different social classes during the 19th century
- Teaching methodology
The students familiarise themselves with the 19th-century life and social classes in small groups. They search information from different sources independently. The teacher supports the process if needed.
- Each group selects a social class and prepares a small play on the life of the people from that class.
- The groups perform their plays. After each play, the whole class discusses and analyses together with the content of the play.
The teacher assesses the students’ learning process during their group work and presentations. The students’ activity, ability to analyse the subject and the presentations are assessed. Peer- and self-assessment are used during the discussions after each performance.