Activities for exploring learning outcomes | Teacher training

learning outcomes

Have you taught materials that included a section at the beginning of a unit or module that looked like this?

By the end of this session, you will have:

  • considered perceptions towards developing reading skills
  • explored the different sub-skills involved in reading
  • considered how you can best develop and practise reading skills with your learners.

How do you tackle learning outcomes? Be honest. Do you signpost them on the board? Do you make your learners read them silently or aloud? Or perhaps you skip them entirely. I’m often guilty of all three. And yet there is evidence that getting learners to explore outcomes explicitly may enable them to better anticipate lesson content, be focused, and retain information more effectively. I also like the idea that they promote a sense of transparency in the learning contract between the instructor and his or her students.

I’m currently facilitating a six day teacher training course for the BC’s English Partnerships initiative and my participants (who are Master Trainers) and I are trying out different activities for exploring learning outcomes that they in turn could use when they train teachers across the western Indian state of Maharashtra.

1. Underline all nouns

Pre: Ask Ss to individually read the learning outcomes for the module and underline all the nouns. Pair share to see if they identified the same nouns as their partner. Poll to identify which key words Ss consider important.

Post: Ask Ss to revisit outcomes. Now that they have experienced the module, would they want to add any nouns to the learning outcomes?

2. Underline all verbs 

Pre: Ask Ss to individually read the learning outcomes for the module and underline all the verbs. Pair share to see if they identified the same verbs as their partner. Take whole class feedback on what sort of activities they might do based on the verbs they underlined.

Post: Ask Ss to revisit outcomes. Now that they have experienced the module, would they want to change any of the verbs in the learning outcomes?

3. Ranking 

Pre: Ask Ss to read the learning outcomes for the module and rank the objectives (1, 2, 3) from most important to least important. Group share to check if they prioritized objectives in a similar way. Poll to find out which objective was ranked as most important.

Post: Ask Ss to revisit outcomes. Now that they have experienced the module, would they want to change the ranking they had assigned to the learning outcomes?

4. Familiarity index

Pre: Draw a horizontal line on the board. On one side, write “not familiar”, on the other side, “very familiar”, and in the middle “familiar”. Ask Ss to draw this scale or index under the section on learning outcomes. Ask them to number the outcomes and place them on the scale based on how familiar they are with the contents of the outcomes. Check my doodle at the end of this post.

Post: Ask Ss to revisit outcomes. Now that they have experienced the module, would it make sense for them to change where they placed the outcomes on the index?

5. Phases of the moon

Pre: On the board, draw three phases of the moon (three empty circles; shade a crescent into the first, a half moon into the second and a nearly full moon into the last). Label them ‘challenging’, ‘moderate’ or ‘easy’ from crescent to full moon. Ask Ss to read the outcomes and decide how easy or difficult it might be to apply that outcome (in the classroom in the case of teacher training). They should draw the phase of the moon per the key on the board next to the outcome. Check my doodle at the end of this post.

Post: Ask Ss to revisit outcomes. Now that they have experienced the module, are they in a position to see application of these outcomes as somewhat easier? Have them shade in their circles as appropriate.

 6. Prediction 

Pre: Ask Ss to read the outcomes individually and predict what might be covered in the lesson. Pair share to check predictions.

Post: Ask Ss to revisit outcomes. Were their predictions correct? Were there any additional concepts, skills or items that got covered? Which ones weren’t included?

7. Smiley face & Flowery face 

Pre: Draw a smiley face on the board. Next to it, draw a flower (ensure that it looks like an empty circle with some petals around it). Ask Ss to read the outcomes and draw a smiley face next to the outcome if they think they already know what might be covered under this outcome. If they don’t know or are unsure, ask them to draw a flower. Pair share.

Post: Ask Ss to revisit outcomes. Can they now turn their flowers into smiley faces? Is there anyone who had assigned a smiley face to an outcome but realized that there much more than what they had anticipated? Do they want to turn their smiley faces into flowers? Check my doodle at the end of this post.

8. Hide ’em

Pre: Write the title of the session on the whiteboard. Ask Ss to hide the outcomes with a piece of paper and then slide sideways to only reveal the initial verbs. Have them guess what the outcomes might be and share with a partner. Take the paper off. Were their guesses accurate?

Post: Ask Ss to revisit outcomes and check to see if the outcomes were met through the activities and tasks done in the session.

9. Secret mission 

Pre: Ask Ss to read the learning outcomes and label them A, B, C etc. Have them choose one outcome that appeals to them. Tell them that this will be their secret mission. They need to check to see if the outcome is being met through the activities and tasks that will be conducted during the session. You can have them signal this through different ways: raise their hand after an activity has been completed and let the class know OR run up to the board and place a mark in a designated space OR use coloured flags if you have some OR any other technique that you think is appropriate and won’t distract the class.

Post: Ask Ss to revisit the learning outcomes. Did they see themselves or their peers completing their secret missions for any of the activities?

10. Cloze

Pre: Write the outcomes on the whiteboard or a flipchart and gap out key words. Ask Ss to work with a partner to find the missing words. You might choose to check answers now or wait till after the session.

Post: If you chose to wait till the end of the session, ask Ss to revisit the learning outcomes and check the outcomes for themselves – they’ll probably be able to easily validate their earlier responses. Let them check with you or their peers for any that they’re unsure about.

11. On a scale of 1 – 5 

Pre: This technique works well for concepts like ICT where you can ask questions around what teachers have implemented in their classrooms. On the whiteboard, write the numbers 1 to 5 in a row. Draw an arrow under them and label one “Never” and five “Regularly” Ask participants to read the outcomes and think about whether they have used what this outcome is talking about in their own classrooms. Have them write a number between 1 and 5 next to the outcome. Pair share.

Post: Ask participants to revisit the learning outcomes. Now that they’ve experienced the session, can they change any of the numbers they assigned to the outcome?

12. Disappearing sentences 

Pre: À la Scott Thornbury, also called progressive deletion or vanishing words. Write the outcomes on the whiteboard. Ask Ss to read and commit the sentences to memory. Ask them point out key words in the outcomes. Erase these and ask Ss to recall the sentences and tell their partners. Erase some more and repeat procedure etc.

Post: Write up the words that were left on the board before you completely erased the outcomes. Ask Ss to use these as clues to recall the outcomes.

13. Cryptograms 

I used to use these a lot when I was working with a corporate. It was a good way of keeping Ss engaged when most of the Ss hadn’t arrived for the lesson. This technique requires a bit of preparation and photocopying unless you plan and include it in your printed materials or maybe you have just a couple of outcomes so you can write it up on the board or on a flipchart. Fair warning: cryptograms can take up a lot of time depending on your Ss’ level.

I usually use Discovery’s Puzzle Maker to create cryptograms. Copy-paste the sentences you want to encrypt. Choose to encrypt in the form of numbers, Greek letters or normal letters. Then, select letters you want to give away as clues (I usually give away half the vowels and less frequent letters like V and Z). Create the cryptogram, print or copy on to a slide.

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Do you have any other ideas I could add to this list?

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